Toyota announced two new transmissions today, quietly, as part of an otherwise fairly dull release on the Toyota Corolla Hatchback née Scion iM.
First is the new K120 CVT — a continuously variable transmission, but not purely driven by belts or bands. Now, Toyota has included a special launch gear — the world’s first launch gear in a passenger-car CVT — avoiding the bands entirely. The reason is because CVTs tend to have low efficiency in lower gear ratios; so now when drivers start, they will have “gear drive,” avoiding a moment of sluggishness and wasted power. It moves from gear to belt drive after launch.
Using the belt for launches means that the belts can be tuned for higher gear ratios. Combined, the two systems bring an excellent, class-leading range of 7.5 — similar to much more expensive nine speed automatics. Reducing the torque load of the belt meant that the belt and pulley could be smaller, increasing shift speeds.
The second major announcement was a new “smart” six-speed “iMT” manual transmission, which automatically matches engine revs on downshifts for greater smoothness and, likely more important for Toyota, lower emissions. The new gearbox is also 15 pounds lighter (at 88 pounds) and shorter (by 0.94 inches).
The author of books on the Dodge Viper, Jeep pickups and wagons, and Chrysler minivans (as well as a kid’s book about early Jeeps), David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.com and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form.