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Discussion Starter #1
I was in California the past five days, and ended up in a 2019 Nissan Sentra as a rental car. It has a computer-controlled CVT transmission. Driving it through a full tank of gas on LA freeways, and around town, I came to one conclusion: KIA got their transmission exactly right. Nissan didn't. Now I understand the complaints reviewers and many drivers have with CVTs. There seems to be little connection between the engine speed and acceleration, especially when the transmission is pushed under heavy acceleration. And then, upgrades and downgrades in the Nissan are spent with the engine RPMs going up and down in ways you wouldn't expect. The transmission always seems to be hunting for the right ratio and you can't feel what's going on. It's distracting and annoying at the same time.

The Sentra also doesn't have the Soul's manual shifting option when you move the shift lever to the left. There is a second forward position, marked "L" like some old automatics, but I never tried it. The car also has a Sport mode, which I also didn't try.

KIA set up 8 ratios, almost like fixed gear ratios, and switched between them like a regular automatic transmission, so you you feel and hear the connection between the engine and the rest of the drive line. That feeling is even more marked in Sport mode. You can also choose to manually move between those fixed ratios in the manual shift mode, and see which ratio you're using on the digital speedometer display. It's a far more satisfying experience for the driver in the Soul, while the Nissan Sentra always keeps you wondering what the transmission is doing. I didn't like the Sentra one bit after five days of driving it.

KIA got it right. Every review I read or watched also said it was the best CVT they'd experienced. Bravo to the KIA engineers!
 

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Not a big surprise since Nissan is almost half owned by Renault & Nissan owns Mitsubishi.

Now there's a devils triangle of top notch brilliance :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
From what I have read, Nissan manufacturers their own transmission via a subsidiary (substandard) company.
Maybe they should try farming that out?
Well, the Nissan's version is clearly biased toward maximum fuel economy. I found it distracting while driving the Sentra. I think KIA's solution is a better one.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I think ALL C.V.T's are based on fuel economy.
Isn't that the whole purpose of their existence?
Well, yes, they are. However, maximum fuel economy requires that the CVT be allowed to set an ideal, infinitely variable transmission ratio for the throttle setting, driving conditions, and engine RPMs. That has led to customer dissatisfaction and confusion for some auto models, due to the apparent cognitive disconnect between engine RPMs and acceleration. That's what causes the complaints from reviewers and customers alike for many CVT-equipped cars. KIA decided to have the computer simulate an 8-speed traditional automatic transmission under many common driving conditions. Perceptible and predictable shift points reassure the driver that everything is operating normally.

For example, as with a traditional automatic transmission, shift points vary according to how far the driver pushes the accelerator pedal. Under light acceleration, the shift point might be 3000 RPM for upshifts. Under heavy pedal pressure, the shift point will move up, even nearing the engine's redline at full throttle. KIAs IVT simulates that behavior very well, giving the driver a level of comfort based on past experience. The Nissan Sentra I drove responded to full-throttle acceleration by ramping engine RPMs up near the engine redline and maintaining them there by changing ratios smoothly. The Soul responds completely differently under full throttle acceleration, shifting to fixed ratios with a familiar drop in engine RPMs. The difference in actual acceleration is minimal, but the car feels like it's accelerating faster in the KIA. It's all about driver perception. Bottom line is that the KIA Soul LX would kick the Sentra's butt in straight line acceleration, and the driver would feel a lot better about how it performed.

Adding a Sport Mode and Manual Shifting mode to the Soul's IVT increases customer acceptance and a choice of operating characteristics, at the sacrifice of a couple of MPG points in some situations. However, at highway cruising speeds, the IVT behaves more like a pure CVT, with the transmission's ratios changing subtly and flexibly. The driver doesn't notice, unless he or she is monitoring the tachometer. For example, cruising at 70 MPH in Normal mode, there are no perceptible shifts, but the engine RPMs go up on gentle up-grades, and drop on down-grades. The IVT is operating as a CVT in those driving conditions.Given the quiet operation of the engine, you might not even notice, unless you're watching the tachometer, which I was doing.

The result is that both auto reviewers and customers feel that the transmission behaves as they have come to expect from an automatic transmission. Since the transmission is computer-controlled, it can behave in any way the designers wish. Kia could, and did, make it behave in a way that pleases consumers, rather than regulators. It's a compromise. However, with attentive driving and the use of cruise control, my Soul returns higher fuel economy than is claimed for highway driving. On a 600 mile Interstate highway trip, with average speeds of 70 MPH, the car reported 36.3 mpg for the entire trip., which also involved some, but not a lot of, surface street travel.

I remember when KIA had to change its mileage claims for my 2013 base Soul after they didn't match typical results. In 2020, they understated mileage figures somewhat, and drivers (buyers) are seeing better fuel economy than expected. Consumers will see that as a bonus, and KIA shows them their trip mileage every time they turn off the engine. Customer satisfaction appears to be KIA's goal, rather than federal reporting.

As far as the reason KIA chose to use a CVT (IVT) in the Soul, I suspect that was more of a cost thing for KIA than anything else. The IVT is really bound to be cheaper to manufacture, due to fewer internal parts than a traditional automatic transmission.

Note: The above is my analysis of things. Is it correct? Well, I think so, but others might differ with me.
 

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Well, as an engineer who understands the benefits of having the engine stay at optimum rpm and vary the transmission I think kia is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I love the way my bmw c650gt works properly with it's CVT and keeps the engine rpm the same. I get that the general public doesn't understand this, but if that's the case, stick with a normal automatic.

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Well, yes, they are. However, maximum fuel economy requires that the CVT be allowed to set an ideal, infinitely variable transmission ratio for the throttle setting, driving conditions, and engine RPMs. That has led to customer dissatisfaction and confusion for some auto models, due to the apparent cognitive disconnect between engine RPMs and acceleration. That's what causes the complaints from reviewers and customers alike for many CVT-equipped cars. KIA decided to have the computer simulate an 8-speed traditional automatic transmission under many common driving conditions. Perceptible and predictable shift points reassure the driver that everything is operating normally.

For example, as with a traditional automatic transmission, shift points vary according to how far the driver pushes the accelerator pedal. Under light acceleration, the shift point might be 3000 RPM for upshifts. Under heavy pedal pressure, the shift point will move up, even nearing the engine's redline at full throttle. KIAs IVT simulates that behavior very well, giving the driver a level of comfort based on past experience. The Nissan Sentra I drove responded to full-throttle acceleration by ramping engine RPMs up near the engine redline and maintaining them there by changing ratios smoothly. The Soul responds completely differently under full throttle acceleration, shifting to fixed ratios with a familiar drop in engine RPMs. The difference in actual acceleration is minimal, but the car feels like it's accelerating faster in the KIA. It's all about driver perception. Bottom line is that the KIA Soul LX would kick the Sentra's butt in straight line acceleration, and the driver would feel a lot better about how it performed.

Adding a Sport Mode and Manual Shifting mode to the Soul's IVT increases customer acceptance and a choice of operating characteristics, at the sacrifice of a couple of MPG points in some situations. However, at highway cruising speeds, the IVT behaves more like a pure CVT, with the transmission's ratios changing subtly and flexibly. The driver doesn't notice, unless he or she is monitoring the tachometer. For example, cruising at 70 MPH in Normal mode, there are no perceptible shifts, but the engine RPMs go up on gentle up-grades, and drop on down-grades. The IVT is operating as a CVT in those driving conditions.Given the quiet operation of the engine, you might not even notice, unless you're watching the tachometer, which I was doing.

The result is that both auto reviewers and customers feel that the transmission behaves as they have come to expect from an automatic transmission. Since the transmission is computer-controlled, it can behave in any way the designers wish. Kia could, and did, make it behave in a way that pleases consumers, rather than regulators. It's a compromise. However, with attentive driving and the use of cruise control, my Soul returns higher fuel economy than is claimed for highway driving. On a 600 mile Interstate highway trip, with average speeds of 70 MPH, the car reported 36.3 mpg for the entire trip., which also involved some, but not a lot of, surface street travel.

I remember when KIA had to change its mileage claims for my 2013 base Soul after they didn't match typical results. In 2020, they understated mileage figures somewhat, and drivers (buyers) are seeing better fuel economy than expected. Consumers will see that as a bonus, and KIA shows them their trip mileage every time they turn off the engine. Customer satisfaction appears to be KIA's goal, rather than federal reporting.

As far as the reason KIA chose to use a CVT (IVT) in the Soul, I suspect that was more of a cost thing for KIA than anything else. The IVT is really bound to be cheaper to manufacture, due to fewer internal parts than a traditional automatic transmission.

Note: The above is my analysis of things. Is it correct? Well, I think so, but others might differ with me.
Proof positive that perception is indeed reality!
 

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Transplant said: "I remember when KIA had to change its mileage claims for my 2013 base Soul after they didn't match typical results:

I'm sorry Sir but I believe you have that backwards.
Kia fluffed the mileage numbers and got busted in the process and was forced to compensate owners for the deception!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, as an engineer who understands the benefits of having the engine stay at optimum rpm and vary the transmission I think kia is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I love the way my bmw c650gt works properly with it's CVT and keeps the engine rpm the same. I get that the general public doesn't understand this, but if that's the case, stick with a normal automatic.

Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
Well, if KIA wanted to, they could add a driving mode that did what you want. However, they didn't do that. The reason is that most drivers are uncomfortable with that CVT strategy. I've seen it described as a "rubber band" transmission. Everything about cars is targeting the consumer and the consumer's wishes. I doubt KIA will ever offer that sort of driving mode, but it could do so very easily. That button could give you Normal, Sport, and Pure CVT modes just as easily as it gives you two choices. However, few people would choose the Pure CVT mode, I think. In a car, it just feels weird.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Transplant said: "I remember when KIA had to change its mileage claims for my 2013 base Soul after they didn't match typical results:

I'm sorry Sir but I believe you have that backwards.
Kia fluffed the mileage numbers and got busted in the process and was forced to compensate owners for the deception!
Yes. They overstated the mileage numbers back then. That's what I'm referring to. Sorry for the confusion. Clearly, they've learned from their mistake. Now, the 2020 is delivering better mileage than their claims for some drivers. That gets seen by owners as a bonus, I think. The psychology of automobile retailing is complex.
 

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You get caught, Hopefully you learn something.
Either you become a better liar or you take the road to redemption and straighten up and fly right.
I think their hand was forced as far as giving back via gas cards and 1-time payouts.
Seems doubtful any company would do it on their own.
 

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Well, if KIA wanted to, they could add a driving mode that did what you want. However, they didn't do that. The reason is that most drivers are uncomfortable with that CVT strategy. I've seen it described as a "rubber band" transmission. Everything about cars is targeting the consumer and the consumer's wishes. I doubt KIA will ever offer that sort of driving mode, but it could do so very easily. That button could give you Normal, Sport, and Pure CVT modes just as easily as it gives you two choices. However, few people would choose the Pure CVT mode, I think. In a car, it just feels weird.
C.V.T. and Rubber band have always been somewhat ASSociated.
Kia broke the mold here especially on an entry level vehicle.
While I would expect near perfection on a beemer or a benz, finding it on a sub 20k vehicle is pleasantly surprising.
What's Kias slogan again..."The power to surprise?"
 

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Discussion Starter #15
C.V.T. and Rubber band have always been somewhat ASSociated.
Kia broke the mold here especially on an entry level vehicle.
While I would expect near perfection on a beemer or a benz, finding it on a sub 20k vehicle is pleasantly surprising.
What's Kias slogan again..."The power to surprise?"
Well, since it's all a matter of computer programming, the cost to provide a range of CVT modes is relatively low. That's not to say that the programming is easy, because it's not. A lot of factors go into shift points and ratio choices, but it's not really a mechanical issue. The algorithms used to determine ratio selection could get really complicated for some driving situations. KIA spend a lot of time designing the behavior of their unique CVT implementation.

The company appears to understand how to please its customers and, as you said, surprise them with what seem to be high-end features at a low cost.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
And now...a word from our sponsor:
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Those are good marketing videos. I hadn't seen them before now. My favorite thing is to listen to people I give a ride to in the Soul. They're surprised by many things about the car, from back seat leg room to performance. "You paid HOW MUCH for this car?"
 

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I had an O8 Rogue for three years I've put two transmissions in it one was covered by the extended warranty of 110000 miles the second one I had to pay for after another 50,000 miles I put in a $3,700 transmission and it still didn't feel right that's when I traded it for my 2020 soul. I still can't believe there isn't a class action lawsuit so I could get some of my money back.
 

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When I pull out from a stop at medium speed, the CVT does indeed keep the engine speed constant at around 3500 rpm and when I reach my cruise speed it drops to <2000. . When I pull out with a lead foot I feel / see the shift points of a traditional automatic trans. It's the best of both worlds.
 

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Well, if KIA wanted to, they could add a driving mode that did what you want. However, they didn't do that. The reason is that most drivers are uncomfortable with that CVT strategy. I've seen it described as a "rubber band" transmission. Everything about cars is targeting the consumer and the consumer's wishes. I doubt KIA will ever offer that sort of driving mode, but it could do so very easily. That button could give you Normal, Sport, and Pure CVT modes just as easily as it gives you two choices. However, few people would choose the Pure CVT mode, I think. In a car, it just feels weird.
CA, based on the comments I've read, the new 2020 drive train sounds nice. I suspect I'd be happy with it. But, I've also read a bunch of comments about decontenting the 2020 Soul's. I think that is what they did here. They could have designed a really nice 8 speed fixed gear transmission, capable of handling the torque of the turbo and other engines, but I think they decided to take a less expensive CVT and make it feel like a normal transmission so that no one would notice the cost savings.

Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #20
CA, based on the comments I've read, the new 2020 drive train sounds nice. I suspect I'd be happy with it. But, I've also read a bunch of comments about decontenting the 2020 Soul's. I think that is what they did here. They could have designed a really nice 8 speed fixed gear transmission, capable of handling the torque of the turbo and other engines, but I think they decided to take a less expensive CVT and make it feel like a normal transmission so that no one would notice the cost savings.

Sent from my SM-T820 using Tapatalk
I really don't think that's it. A CVT or IVT can increase fuel economy, and has the potential for requiring less maintenance over time. The challenge is consumer acceptance, which is what KIA addressed with its 8-speed fixed ratio strategy in some modes and driving conditions. I knew they got it right when all of the reviewers praised it as better than other CVT implementations. After driving the 2020, I knew even better that KIA solved that issue.

It was expensive to develop the IVT, since they introduced a metal belt for it. It's a very simple piece of machinery with far fewer moving parts than a traditional automatic transmission. It should cost a good deal less to manufacture, as well.

Did KIA decontent the Soul? I don't know. They changed some things, to be sure. But, the IVT isn't decontenting. It's actually an engineering improvement. Lucky for us, they used in in the 2019 RIO a model year earlier, so we're not the first to get it.
 
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