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Jatco CVT May Be Ditched in Favor of 9-Speed Auto for 2021 Nissan Pathfinder

JATCO Ltd. – which is actually an acronym for Japanese Automatic Transmission COmpany – started producing transmissions a heck of a long time ago. Spun off by parent company Nissan in 1999, Jatco is known for making some of the most unreliable CVTs out there.
Nissan Pathfinder 17 photos
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A continuously variable transmission is meant to save fuel as much as possible, more than a torque-converter automatic or a dual-clutch setup. Toyota has a pretty good CVT nowadays thanks to incremental upgrades, but Nissan appears to have made its CVT worse with every incarnation. Just take a look at the complaints section of the NHTSA website.

Let’s take the Pathfinder as our example because we’ll talk about the mid-size crossover a bit later as well. "The transmission seems to be slipping," said an owner from Florida. "There is a noticeable metallic sound and loss of power." Another owner wrote that "the transmission reduces, then stops applying power to the wheels and acts as though it's in neutral."

You’ll find dozens of complaints with similar wording, and coincidence or not, Nissan has been turning a blind eye to this matter for too long. A lot of rumors suggest that the 2021 model year Pathfinder will switch to a nine-speed automatic transmission because of the sub-par CVT, and a report from Bald Tires appears to confirm the torque-converter auto.

“We had some serious quality concerns,” said a spokesman about the three-row crossover. “Numerous owners reported catastrophic failure at as low as 50,000 miles (80,467 kilometers).” By catastrophic, Bald Tires means that the Pathfinder needs a replacement Jatco transmission.

The question is, what nine-speed auto? The JR913E revealed in March is for longitudinal engines and rear-/all-wheel-drive applications. When it comes to transverse mills and front-wheel drive, only the JF414E and JF613E can be taken into consideration. The latter seems more likely because it’s specifically developed for “medium and large FWD vehicles."

It remains to be seen if the nine-speed transmission actually happens, but more importantly, the rumor mill suggests that the Pathfinder will get the VC-Turbo from the Altima and Infiniti QX50. Given that the variable-compression engine comes exclusively with the CVT8 Xtronic, it’s high time for Nissan to either fix this tranny or stop making CVTs altogether.

UPDATE (May 19th, 2020)

Other publications have reported on the subject, including Autoblog. A certain "Bryson" told Autoblog.com: "A little birdie told me that the 2021 Pathfinder is ditching the CVT for a 9-speed automatic transmission."

 
 
 
 
 

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