A CVT is technically an automatic gearbox because it doesn’t require the use of a clutch to change gears, but the major difference is that it does not have any conventional fixed gears.
Nissan states that their XTronic CVT offers rapid, seamless acceleration, significant improvement in fuel economy, and a lighter, more compact unit. Moreover, with fewer moving parts, the friction and heat generated are minimal, so it is more efficient and durable than a conventional transmission.
However, customers have reported a multitude of problems ever since the first version was released and some of these issues persist even with the current-generation Xtronic. The main complaint is that when accelerating at low speeds, some owners experience shuttering and shaking of the gearbox, which seems to struggle to get up to speed.
In most cases, this problem happened while the vehicles were still covered by the factory warranty, so dealerships fixed the issues by reprograming the gearboxes and replacing parts of the pulley system.
But owners have complained that in some cases, the sluggishness is far too evident, and this can have extremely dangerous outcomes. The main concern of those who reported this issue was that the car would have trouble getting up to speed in critical driving situations like overtaking.
Nissan’s XTronic has also gained a reputation for being loud. This is another real-life problem that is not unique to the Japanese carmaker’s CVT and goes against another main advertising point.
All these problems are mainly caused by overheating, and many experienced mechanics who studied the transmission concluded that its cooling system was inadequately designed.
Apart from the problems that we already covered, certain overheating Xtronic transmissions caused cars to suddenly enter fail-safe mode, which instantly limits the power of the drivetrain, causing potentially dangerous situations.
The current generation of the Xtronic promises to address these issues and comes with a five-year/60,000-mile (96,560 km) warranty.
Those who are thinking of buying a new Nissan should not completely avoid this transmission, but they should know its history, consult current owners for accurate feedback and make sure they understand the conditions and benefits of the warranty when purchasing the vehicle.
One thing is certain, the Xtronic and CVTs, in general, are innovative but far from perfect, flawless gearboxes.