Transmissions are often a sore spot for car owners because they are costly to repair. So, if you're looking to purchase a new Nissan Frontier, you may be wondering what kind of transmission the pickup has. But since transmissions aren't a flashy feature, it isn't easy to find direct information on which transmission type comes on which vehicle. Luckily, we researched the transmission on the Nissan Frontier and have the answer for you here.
The 2021 Nissan Frontier comes with a 9-speed automatic transmission. To be more precise, the Frontier's transmission is not a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) but an automatic geared transmission.
That's the tip of the iceberg for transmission information on the Nissan Frontier. In the rest of this post, we will discuss some potential problems the Nissan Frontier transmission might have. Additionally, we will take a look at some other transmission types used by Nissan. Finally, we will dive into the world of CVT transmissions to examine how useful they really are.
The Nissan Frontier's Transmission
According to the Frontier's vehicle specifications page on the Nissan website, the Frontier doesn't have a CVT transmission.
On the contrary, the 2021 Nissan Frontier has a more standard automatic transmission. The Frontier's automatic transmission is special because it has nine total gears, a lot more than your typical five-speed manual vehicle.
The Frontier's nine-speed automatic transmission helps the truck to operate more efficiently by increasing fuel economy. The fact that there are nine gears for the transmission to work through makes the drive smoother than ever.
When you combine the high gear transmission with the Frontier's 3.8-liter V6 engine and potentially four-wheel drive, you get excellent performance.
Do Nissan Frontiers have Transmission Problems?
You may have heard some talk about Nissan vehicles having transmission problems. If the Nissan Frontier has a regular automatic transmission, though a fancy one, does it still have some issues?
Nissan Frontiers, and most other Nissans without CVT transmissions, won't have any significant transmission problems, especially with low mileage.
It's a little too early in the lifespan of the 2021 Nissan Frontier to draw any reasonable conclusions about its transmission, but older Frontiers have had some problems.
Several Nissan Frontier forums, like Club Frontier, feature owners' complaints about problems with their truck's transmission.
There are a few model years that are of particular concern: 2005 to 2008. If you're considering buying a used Nissan Frontier, we suggest you stay away from that era due to some concerns with the transmission.
Overall, automatic transmissions in Nissan vehicles aren't anything you should be deeply concerned about. The Transmission problems you've heard about when it comes to Nissan more than likely come from models that have the CVT transmissions.
Let's take a look at CVT transmissions in greater detail.
Do all Nissans have CVT Transmissions?
Not all vehicles made by Nissan have CVT transmissions. In fact, many of them still have high-quality automatic transmissions, and a few hold-outs are available with manual transmissions.
That being said, many vehicles in the Nissan lineup have made the switch over to the CVT transmission.
Here is a list of all the Nissan vehicles that come with a CVT transmission:
- Rogue Sport
While all of those Nissan models could potentially come with a CVT transmission, it is not always the case. Some models, particularly models with sporty options, may have multiple transmission styles available.
How do I know if my Nissan has a CVT Transmission?
There are multiple ways to tell if your Nissan has a CVT transmission. First, check out your car's manual under the transmission section. These pages will likely have information about transmission maintenance and function, including transmission type.
Second, you can tell if your Nissan has a CVT transmission by the feel of acceleration while driving. When you drive a car with an automatic transmission, you might feel slight hiccups in acceleration.
Gear changes in the transmission are what cause these hiccups. With a CVT transmission, the acceleration will be completely smooth.
Finally, the fail-safe method for finding out what type of transmission you have is by visiting a mechanic.
If you go to your local Nissan dealer or a mechanic that deals in transmissions, they should be able to tell by looking under your hood. Otherwise, they can search your VIN and find out from a database.
What is a CVT Transmission?
So, if the Nissan Frontier doesn't have a CVT transmission, but other Nissans do, what's the deal with them anyway? Let's start out by defining exactly how the CVT transmission differs from other transmissions.
The abbreviation CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. To better explain how the CVT transmission works, we'll begin with the automatic transmission.
An automatic transmission works through a series of interconnected gears that spin in sync with one another. By doing this, they transfer energy created in the engine to the wheels.
On the other hand, the CVT transmission works without the series of interwoven gears you find in the automatic transmission—instead, two cones (one for input and one for output) with a belt connecting them.
Functionally, to change the speed of the vehicle, the cones expand and retract. So instead of physically changing gears, the cones change in width and smoothly increase the car's speed.
CVT transmissions have been in cars since the late 1980s but aren't even fully adopted as standard today. Still, CVT transmissions come with many benefits.
For example, they provide an exceptionally smooth ride compared to manual or automatic geared transmissions. Additionally, they make the vehicle more fuel-efficient than the other transmission types.
Here is a fun video that explains the differences in the three transmission types and focuses on the CVT:
How Long Should a CVT Transmission Last?
The length of time a transmission or any car part lasts depends on a large number of factors. For example, factors like climate, driving habits (speed/acceleration), and make/model all affect a part's lifespan.
CVT transmissions are no different. Generally, you can expect a CVT transmission to last at least 100,000 miles. But, it's not ridiculous to predict that one could last much longer than that. There are simply too many factors to make a solid estimate.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a CVT?
The last thing you want to hear when you have car trouble of any sort is the word transmission.
Classic, manual and automatic transmissions are already expensive to repair, so it's no surprise that the CVT isn't cheap either. The cost for replacing one can range between $3,000 and $8,000 in total.
Due to some concerns with the CVT transmissions on their vehicles, Nissan decided to offer the possibility of having an extended warranty on this part.
This helps mitigate some of the cost risks that a driver takes on by buying a car with a CVT transmission. For Nissan models with CVT transmissions from model years 2003 to 2010, Nissan actually doubled the warranty to the limit of 10 years or 120,000 miles.
Are Nissan CVT Transmissions bad?
The Nissan CVT may have some complaints, but that doesn't mean it's a completely bad transmission. As with anything, you have to use the machine the way it was intended in order to get the best performance and longevity out of it.
For a Nissan CVT transmission, that means proper maintenance and responsible driving.
Nissan may have had some issues with the CVT in the past, but the automaker hasn't moved away from them.
They understand the benefits and believe the pros outweigh the cons for their vehicles. Their commitment to providing extended warranties just in case of CVT transmission issues is proof of that.
The Nissan Frontier may not have a CVT transmission, but plenty of newer Nissan vehicles do.
Even though there are some bad reviews for Nissan CVT transmissions, don't completely shy away from them. The technology is good, and there are real benefits to driving a CVT-powered car.
Just be responsible and keep up your maintenance schedule. But if you're shopping for a Nissan Frontier, the newer model years are perfectly okay transmission-wise.
If you found the information in this post helpful, please check out a few of our others: