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RX450h CVT gearbox good/bad ?


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HI All,

As you have probably seen from my earlier post, I'm thinking of jumping in to the RX450h as a daily driver.

Probably the only reservation I have in my mind is that CVT gearboxes have such a strange feeling/usage compared to a normal torque converter gearbox and this somewhat impacts the feeling and driving of the vehicle.

I have only owned one CVT gearboxed car in the past, an Audi A6 of 2004 vintage and I didn't like the way it hung on to revs for the speed to catch up. The only saving grace was that it did have a manual mode which simulated gear changes.

Ultimately this car will replace my S-Class, so space, pace and grace is the most important factors for me.

Discuss please, as this is my only reservation at the moment.

Iceboy

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I went from an LS400 DHP to an RX450H and yes there is a difference in the feel of driving with the difference in the gearboxes.

I find that I don't get quite the throwback into the seat with the RX  as i did with the LS but again they are a different vehicle. As in an S class, you are going from a low sedan to a high SUV albeit a luxury one, where the ride and position is completely different. When I get in my son-in-laws E class or my sons Peugeot 508 it feels like I'm sitting in a go kart it is soo near the road.

I suggest you test drive one over a weekend and really use it where you will use it daily, that should help you make your mind up.

 

 

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Hi Kole, After living with a CVT box for a while I've grown to really like it in the GS, it's different for sure but isn't a deal breaker for me.

Sure at first it did seem very weird but the smooth endless push is very nice, especially on long journeys.  Who wants jerky gear changes, they're soooo last year!

Journo's mostly slate CVT's and I can only image that they are trying to 'rag' the car all the time, in which case I can appreciate that the high engine revs would become tiresome. 

For my car, one of big positive is it's power so big throttle inputs are rare and short lived as you'll soon be beyond the legal limit. 

I have driven a smaller capacity CT200 and any spirited throttle inputs did have the engine rev'g for much longer than I'm used to in the GS. 

The RX is a big vehicle but has good power so I suspect the CVT revs will not be as intrusive as a smaller capacity engine.

As already mentioned, you really do need to drive one and try to have have an open mind to see if it'll suit you or not.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Cheers, Lee

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First thing to point out is that the CVT in your audi really was a CVT. The "e-CVT" in the Lexus Hybrids isn't - it's rather clever and incredibly simple system that doesn't have any clutches, bands or chains, very few moving parts and basically never wears out (millions of prius cabs can't be wrong). 

However, the driving feel is sort of akin to a CVT, in that the engine can hold a speed (ie rpm) and the car can accelerate. The thing is that, with the GS at least, this rarely happens for any particular length of time. A slip-road acceleration from 30-70 lasts maybe 3-4 seconds during which time the revs rise and so there's maybe 2 seconds of static revs. It's not some constant "drone" as many motoring journalists have written (watch the Fifth Gear review - they complain about it while driving pegged down bruntingthorpe runway. Not realistic!)

The actual driving characteristics of the eCVT are pretty good, once you learn to ignore the disconnect between sound and speed. When accelerating, you get continuous linear acceleration much more like an EV (and my other car is a Tesla) - you don't have the horrible lumpiness of torque at the wheels that occurs with a turbodiesel combined with discrete gears (whether manual or auto). However, I will obviously concede that an S class is going to be a damn sight smoother than most cars in this regard!

The other huge benefit of the eCVT is that it allows the car to cruise along with the engine ticking over at 1000rpm at all legal UK motorway speeds (and quite some way beyond). As you can see from my sig below, our GS450h with similar (but not the same) drivetrain returns a real world average of 37mpg which is absolutely phenomenal for a 340bhp petrol car. Our previous 2011 Volvo V70 Diesel returned 38mpg. 

Ultimately it's a matter of fitness for purpose. The eCVT won't ever win friends among those that want to carve up country roads, heel-and-toeing downshifts, etc (ie most of the motoring press). But then again, is a ~2 tonne squidgy luxury SUV going to win friends there anyway, regardless of its transmission? It is fabulous for smooth progress - when driven at 5 tenths to 6 tenths the GS450h gathers speed without making a fuss. It doesn't have the neck-snapping party piece of the Tesla, but instead it has an uncanny ability to be doing 30 and then just a few seconds later be doing 60 in such a way that your passengers didn't even notice the change. 

As for your last point.... Space, the RX is a pretty spacious vehicle. Maybe not as spacious for 4 passengers as an LWB S, but I doubt you'd have many complaints. Pace... it's quick enough, but not one for a B-road hustle. Grace - not quite there with the S class, but that's really a very high bar. The RX will attract less attention and will mostly get on with being comfortable and unobtrusive. 

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Don't be influenced by the motoring press and their German based biase. They don't have to live with a car every day. I came from a 2012 e class 250cdi convertible and the Lexus experience is streets ahead of  modern Mercedes. This is my third Lexus with Ecvt gearbox and I drive between 20 and 30000 miles a year. The big plus of the Lexus gearbox is that power is seamless and apart from a growl under hard acceleration very smooth and quiet. I drove 162 miles today mixed motorway and cross country across Shropshire in appalling weather and got out of the car just like I'd been to the local shops 

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As others have said, it really is a non-issue.  The RX is not at all like a small CVT automatic and while the revs do rise on hard acceleration, it is not  intrusive.  In fact, I have become so accustomed to the eCVT in my RX daily driver that I now have to recalibrate my brain to cope with driving the conventional torque converter box in my SC.

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Yes it does need getting used to.  Most of the time you don't notice the slight 'roar' and to me a feeling this is like clutch slip.  The changes on a good conventional auto box are barely discernable nowadays with no significant change in noise or feeling like clutch slip and I prefer this to the CVT one although it's not a dealbreaker as the RX has a lot going for it overall

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The thing that helps the RX is that they matched the cvt transmission with a decent engine power wise .go try a under powered nx300h they are all the same until you want to actually over take something .Then either you go ***** am I going to make it in other cvt cars .Or pull out in the Rx and do your Jeremy clarkson impression to the wife POWERRR lol.

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Hi Kole,

 

Wellllll, as coincidence has it - - I moved from my (rather wonderful) S500 to a 2014 RX-450h just two months ago.

I just loved the S Class, - its comfort, its wonderful get-up-and-go (!) and its feeling of solid dependability.

(I also achieved an annual ave of 30mpg - which was a surprise)

The RX 450 is SO different, - - yes - the CVT box is strange at first, (and the car is nowhere near as quick) - but it's certainly quick enough, I'm achieving the same mpg around my hilly town journeys - but the plus factors are great: Excellent vision, wonderful comfort, and (at my age) it is SO much easier to climb down from a car, rather than climb out of it!. I wouldn't go back to the S500 now.

 

 

Edited by Illogan
Edited for pour spilling
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