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Old 12-08-2014, 06:05 PM   #1
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Nissan CVT (Continuous Variable) Transmission

I purchase a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder 3.5 L, V6, CVT because it is rated at 5,000 lbs. I bought a 22 ft Safari about a year ago on the forum in Sacramento, hooked it up a drove back to San Diego. I am getting 16-18 mpg going 63 mph and that sounds pretty good to me. People are starting to hate the Pathfinder CVT online because it shudders /slips if you lug it, say 1200 rpm going up hill at say 15-20 mph. It stops slipping when you gas on and I towed over the “grape vine” zero to 5K ft with not problem passing the Mack trucks with ease.

Is anyone else towing with a CVT transition? Does any one else have experience towing with a CVT?
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Old 12-08-2014, 06:25 PM   #2
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We currently rent TVs for our 1960 Avion T20 (+/- 3000-3200# loaded & wet), & last year we rented 3 different 2013 Pathfinders from a Nissan dealer in Long Beach with the 4.0 V6 & CVT. So mine is limited to a trip to Pismo, one to Cachuma Lake (near Solvang) & local to Newport Dunes Newport Beach from Orange - all for vintage trailer events.

They did fine 2x on the smaller grades Camarillo to T-oaks & Santa Barbara to Santa Maria. Not Grapevine grades, but it did have the V6 winding up to pretty high RPMs. Our towing mpg was a little less than yours.

I'm not particularly a fan of the CVT - and prefer a V8 to V6 for a little more power when towing so the drivetrain works less hard - but the Pathfinders would work fine if you have one or like Nissans. Earlier 2000's Pathfinders were also available with a V8, & had a choice of standard or auto transmission I think.

The newer unibody Pathfinder for 2014 is no longer body on frame, & has a lower towing capacity than the <2013 ones.
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Old 12-09-2014, 02:41 AM   #3
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How is the braking on hills? We have a Prius with CVT, and I often just ride the brakes going downhill. However, I don't press hard enough to actually engage the brake pads. Instead, the CVT drives the electric motor to provide regenerative braking that recharges the batteries.

I'm sure others think I'm crazy for riding the brakes on long downhill grades; but the brake pads don't heat up (since they aren't actually being used), and our batteries get fully charged for the next hill.

Can (or, how does) the Pathfinder CVT downshift for downhill braking?
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Old 12-09-2014, 06:48 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
How is the braking on hills? We have a Prius with CVT, and I often just ride the brakes going downhill. However, I don't press hard enough to actually engage the brake pads. Instead, the CVT drives the electric motor to provide regenerative braking that recharges the batteries.

I'm sure others think I'm crazy for riding the brakes on long downhill grades; but the brake pads don't heat up (since they aren't actually being used), and our batteries get fully charged for the next hill.

Can (or, how does) the Pathfinder CVT downshift for downhill braking?
Regenerative braking breaks a lot of the "old rules", if you know what you are doing.

CVTs have a pretty long and storied past. In theory, they're great...and they are definitely getting better from a durability standpoint and increase "city" mileage pretty dramatically. I don't think they are at a point where I'd tow with them though, I'm just not convinced they are that robust yet. I hope I'm wrong, as we are marketing the Chevy City Express right now, which is a cooperative with the Nissan NV200.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:23 AM   #5
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Rent verses Own Tow Vehicle

Thank you all for your comments. For clarification I have the newly redesigned SUV like unibody 2014 Pathfinder. I think you are right about the stress of towing on CVTs – still a big question mark when it comes to longevity. In theory and in practice it works great because you never have the sensation that it is shifting so there is never the up down shifting searching that some experience with 5 or 6 speed autos.

I like the idea of renting a tow vehicle and I am starting to think It would be cheaper to rent a truck for the 2 or three weeks a year that I actually tow anything. I would rather drive a small car than an SUV or Truck every day.

Has anyone on the forum done a rent verses own cost benefit analysis?

Cheers,
Peter Joe
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:50 AM   #6
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Towing a 64 Tradewind with a 2013 Pathfinder. I have towed about 8,000 miles with no problems. Trips include AZ, NM, Cal, Colarado and Ozarks with no problems. Great gas mileage. Usally in the low 16s in town or towing. I think the CVT may be an advantage towing because of lack of shifting. My dealer gave a lifetime warranty to the CVT so I thought I would give it a try. I have not noticed any slipping.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:44 AM   #7
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The 1987-1995 Pathfinders are basically hardbody trucks, body on frame, with 4 cylinders and a V6 option.
The 1996-2004 Pathfinders (I still have a 1999) are all V6 and unibody construction.
The 2005-2012 Pathfinders are basically Frontier trucks/XTerras, body on frame construction, with V6 motors and a 5.6L V8 option in some years in the middle of the body style run.
Some years of 4Runner (2005? 2006?) had a 4.7L V8 option.
All of them were rated to tow 3,500#-5,000# depending on engine and transmission options.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:45 AM   #8
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I have never towed over 3,500# with my 1999 Nissan Pathfinder LE 3.3L V6 210 hp 4 speed automatic.
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Old 12-09-2014, 11:34 AM   #9
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I tow with a 2006 Pathfinder with 4.0L V6, auto trans and factory tow package. It is rated for 5000 or 6000 lbs, I forget which.
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Old 12-09-2014, 12:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterJoe View Post
Thank you all for your comments. For clarification I have the newly redesigned SUV like unibody 2014 Pathfinder. I think you are right about the stress of towing on CVTs – still a big question mark when it comes to longevity. In theory and in practice it works great because you never have the sensation that it is shifting so there is never the up down shifting searching that some experience with 5 or 6 speed autos.

I like the idea of renting a tow vehicle and I am starting to think It would be cheaper to rent a truck for the 2 or three weeks a year that I actually tow anything. I would rather drive a small car than an SUV or Truck every day.

Has anyone on the forum done a rent verses own cost benefit analysis?

Cheers,
Peter Joe
Peter Joe,

I think what you have then is an early production 2014 Model Year (MY) "new" Pathfinder first sold in Fall or late summer 2013 - but considered a 2014. They start selling the new models around August/Sept.

I don't know if your towing package had the 7-way electric connector or only 4-pin, but you need 7-way for the trailer brakes to work.

1. One downside to our renting the 2013 MY Pathfinders was that they only had the tow option rated at 5000# with 2" receiver but only a 4-pin - so I had to take an hour before/after towing to attach a 4-to-7-way adapter + power wire run up to the battery in front under the hood, which was a royal PITA. I didn't need the other 2 wires of the 7-way connected (Aux & Brake Controller), since I used a Tekonsha RF wireless brake controller mounted on the trailer, but it did require the power from the TV.

So I had to do the adapter drill each time & they were a 45 min drive away to Long Beach to pick-up/return - and that added an extra day to each end of the rental over the basic trip time.

Since they no longer had tow equipped trucks/SUVs in their rental fleet for most of this year, & due to the 4-to7-way BS & distance, I switched to the local Enterprise Truck Rental in town with 3/4 ton behemoth crew cab pickup trucks with 7+4-way connectors to save the extra 2 days & adapter BS & logistics of coordinating our work schedule to get over to Long Beach.

The trucks were more to rent, but evened-out with less days needed, but they also required their own LDL for us. Also, Enterprise will only allow their commercial account holders to tow, which I got via my business, & then they require us to either have them a "named insured" on a business auto policy, or to buy their daily coverage - which is what I do to keep it simple & keep rental costs all together without a huge upcharge on our policy (Hertz Commercial is the same, but doesn't offer their own daily coverage alt.).

If the Hooman Toyota/Nissan dealership rental fleet has 7-way equipped trucks/SUVs next year when we start towing to vintage trailer events again, then I may go back with them since they'll accept my AAA policy on our cars & trailer to keep costs a bit lower - even with the distance.

2. Second downside is that you can't tow them out of state with any of the rentals - only within CA, so that doesn't work if you go out of state.

Also note that the regular car rental places do NOT allow towing any more, even if the truck/suv is tow equipped. They used to but stopped a few years back.

3. Third downside is that the cost can add up to the cost of owning a used TV by about your 4th, 5th, or 6th weekend or week trip in a year - depending on the specific rental costs vs that of ownership - & without the logisitics of arranging & getting a rental several times a year, as well as making spontaneous "let's go this weekend" trips far less likely.

If you just go for a 2-3 week trip once a year, or even 3 1 week trips, then it may work okay for you.

I do like the styling of those new Pathfinders, but not sure if the 3.5L V6 will be as strong as the 4.0L we used.

Cheers!
Tom
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Old 12-10-2014, 08:54 AM   #11
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Thanks for the details. I thought simply renting and hitting the road was too good to be true. About the 3.5 CVT it’s plenty of power, freakishly so I think because the transmission’s computer automatically finds the sweet spot. At times my mileage is so good I started bragging about it but I stopped telling people because they think I’m crazy. The 22 safari has a single axel though and I put new Carlisle tires on it that inflate to 80 psi. If one needs a 7 seat car like feel SUV that still tows I can recommend it. Mine is loaded but I think they can be had new for $30K new. Used ones are probably a steel because of the “shuddering/slipping” when lugged issue that I mentioned. It is disconcerting enough that I would bet that some private parties are motivated enough to take KBB whole sale, or about 40% off MSRP for a 1-2 year old car.
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:23 AM   #12
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How is the braking on hills? We have a Prius with CVT, and I often just ride the brakes going downhill. However, I don't press hard enough to actually engage the brake pads. Instead, the CVT drives the electric motor to provide regenerative braking that recharges the batteries.

I'm sure others think I'm crazy for riding the brakes on long downhill grades; but the brake pads don't heat up (since they aren't actually being used), and our batteries get fully charged for the next hill.

Can (or, how does) the Pathfinder CVT downshift for downhill braking?
Our Prius has a "B" function on the shift knob that engages the regenerative feature on long descents. There should be no need to ride the brakes if your's is equipped with this feature, plus we normally get slight regenerative feedback just coasting.

I catch a lot of grief from friends about the Prius... Until they drive it that is.
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Old 12-13-2014, 10:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
How is the braking on hills? We have a Prius with CVT, and I often just ride the brakes going downhill. However, I don't press hard enough to actually engage the brake pads. Instead, the CVT drives the electric motor to provide regenerative braking that recharges the batteries.

I'm sure others think I'm crazy for riding the brakes on long downhill grades; but the brake pads don't heat up (since they aren't actually being used), and our batteries get fully charged for the next hill.

Can (or, how does) the Pathfinder CVT downshift for downhill braking?
I just spent a week driving a rented 4 cylinder Altima with CVT. There is an OD lockout button on the shifter that provides additional engine braking. I recall the engine speed sitting around 3000 rpm, versus about 1800 with the button not engaged. It worked reasonably well.

It was the best CVT I've ever driven, but it was still a good reason not to buy a Nissan. It is not designed for a sporting driver, and overall gearing is much too tall. Only 2000 rpm at 75 mph meant that the engine was working so hard that there was a constant mild lugging.

The only time I liked it was under gentle acceleration, with the revs holding about 2000 while the speed built up gradually. Very smooth and quiet. In my view, the CVT would work really well with a large engine with lots of torque.

Highway fuel economy was about 33 mpg - on par with my 14 year old Volvo with a manual transmission.
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