Abandoned Prosperity

America, for all its supposed wealth and prosperity, has many abandoned places. From natural disasters, to foreclosures, to budget cuts, to rebuilding; I've seen quite a few in my short life-time. All across this vast country people are homeless, when there are many buildings and places that could be "repurposed" to house them. This blog is all about the places I've lived and explored, over the past 47 years. It also involves other things of interest to me, which will become apparent as I continue along. Most places and events I can only remember and right now, I'm active in exploring the current state I live in, Tennessee. Follow along in my foot-steps as I clambour over and sometimes into the abandoned debris of our society...from junkyards to cellars to my own mind.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Abandoned The CVT

5-speed equipped!
*Author's note: I am in no way, shape or form, getting paid to write this but wish I was. Maybe someone from Car and Driver or even Nissan will happen upon this and learn something from an actual customer.*

 I will never go back to owning any car with an automatic transmission, especially one that is a CVT. Antique vehicles would be the only exception. Lesson learned the hard way. A few months back I did a post about the 2014 Nissan Versa Note I had recently bought. You can read that HERE if you want to. Car and Driver had it right when they stated that "you could do worse than having a 5-speed manual in this car...you could buy the one that was CVT equipped." Unfortunately, the article did not come out until the winter and I had bought the first Note in July of 2013. It wasn't until December that I found out about not one, but two recalls on the early models. Both problems were minor and eventually fixed. A couple other foibles of the CVT-based model: The front seat belts had an irritating way of knocking against the b-pillar when not in use. Also, if your front seat isn't adjusted properly (in my case to far forward), you have to be a contortionist to get at the belt. I noted all the problems areas in my J.D. Power survey.

It only took one test drive to get back into gear.

In February of this year (2014), I finally got to get my manual back. It took seven months for the dealers to get any on their lots, or so I was told. I can believe it due to all the hype over getting a CVT equipped car. That seemed to be all the dealers were ordering out of Mexico, at the time. I had the same problem about ten years ago when I went to buy a Chevy Tracker. Only then it had only taken five days to find a stick-shift model, not seven effing months! But, I digress. And I suffered and complained. But at least the updated model's seat belts didn't knock up against the b-pillars. And the lid for the extra 12-volt socket is now spring-loaded.

 What I can't believe is how bad these things (CVTs) really are. The "acclaimed" mileage is a joke. As one who has owned both the CVT and 5-speed models, I can attest to the 5-speed being the better choice. I've driven both cars as far as Lower Virginia (from Massachusetts), along the I-81 corridor. Lots of nice hills to climb.

 Let's compare: The CVT-based car can't get out of its own way, literally. You can forget about merging into traffic unless your foot is to the floor. And only then you'd be lucky not to get crunched by that fast-approaching semi. Climbing hills? Yeah. Right. The CVT caused the engine to go into warp drive when getting anywhere near a hill, much less a mountain. The tach ran anywhere from 4,000-5,100 RPM just to keep up to the speed limit. The end result for this trip is that I averaged 29.2 MPG. A bit better than the guys at C&D did but then they were driving the manual. After seven months my over-all mileage was 37.2 combined. Meh.

It's...it's so...black and shiny!

Now for the 5 speed version: Yes, the shifter is a bit notchy but then, it's still an upgrade from the old KIA Cinco's 5 speed. With 107 horse-power and equal torque, it's enough for me to be able get out on the highway, especially if I'm stomping throttle in 3rd gear. Going through the same mountain chain (the Shenandoah Mountains), I saw a remarkable difference. The 5 speed kept up with traffic at barely 3,500 RPM and no down-shiftings required unless I was hitting an off-ramp (and even then I'd just throw it into neutral.) My trip average was 35.4MPG. And this was at and average speed of 65MPH. Quite a difference. My current over-all average is now 40.2 MPG. But then, I tend to drive in neutral a lot, especially on the back roads.

End result? My money's on the 5 speed. Better acceleration, better mileage and a whole lot more fun to drive. No more complaints.