What Does PVT Transmission Mean? Definition, Features, and Functionality

PVT refers to Passively Variable Transmission. It has a low-velocity ratio for small loads and a high torque ratio for large loads. Another popular PVT transmission is the Polaris Variable Transmission, which is used exclusively in Polaris ATVs and UTVs. Also, it’s actually a CVT transmission.

Understanding the function of your vehicle’s transmission is crucial to ensure a smooth and safe driving experience. There are several transmissions used in vehicles. PVT transmission is one of the transmissions used mostly in ATVs/UTVs.

So, today I will discuss what does PVT transmission mean?

Now, let’s talk about the definition of PVT transmission, how it works, and its relationship with the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission System).

PVT Transmission

PVT transmission primarily means Passively Variable Transmission with a high torque gear ratio for heavy loads and a low-velocity gear ratio for small loads. Also, it’s a type of transmission system found in vehicles that automatically adjusts the gear ratio to optimize engine power and efficiency. 

CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) system, on the other hand, has hydraulic actuators that actively change the size of the pulleys to adjust the gear ratio. Comparatively, the PVT system uses a simple mechanical design, typically with a centrifugal clutch, to automatically adjust the gear ratio.

The centrifugal clutch in a PVT system engages or disengages depending on engine speed, providing different gear ratios for acceleration and cruising. When the engine RPM increases, the clutch expands and engages a higher gear ratio, and when the RPM decreases, the clutch contracts and engages a lower gear ratio.


PVT transmission means Passively Variable Transmission (Prototype) or Polaris Variable Transmission in Polaris ATVs/UTVs. The Polaris Variable transmission is basically a CVT transmission that automatically adjusts the gear ratio to optimize engine power and efficiency.

What Does PVT Transmission Mean In ATVs/UTVs?

Another definition of PVT transmission is Polaris Variable Transmission, that’s actually a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It’s a type of automatic transmission developed and used by Polaris Industries, an American manufacturer of snowmobiles, ATVs/UTVs, and motorcycles. 

The Polaris PVT system is a transmission technology that offers continuously variable control of the transmission ratio, providing smooth and seamless acceleration. The Polaris PVT transmission is designed for off-road vehicles and is built to handle rough terrain with improved power and control over conventional automatic transmissions.


Polaris PVT is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that provides smooth and seamless acceleration. It is designed for off-road vehicles and is built to handle rough terrain with improved power and control.

How Does Polaris PVT Transmission Work?

The PVT transmission provides smooth and consistent power delivery to the wheels. It doesn’t use stepped shifting like the traditional manual or automatic transmissions. The vehicle maintains optimal engine RPM regardless of speed or terrain, making it ideal for ATVs and UTVs.

What Are The Features Of a CVT Transmission?

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) has some unique features. These are:

  • Improved fuel efficiency: CVTs can continuously change the gear ratio, offering an infinite number of combinations. It improves acceleration and fuel efficiency because the CVT transmission controls the RPM for the best performance.
  • Seamless Shifting: As CVT transmissions do not have fixed gear ratios, they provide immediate and responsive acceleration uphill. As a result, while driving on an incline, power and speed can be optimized by avoiding gear shifting. For limited gear ratios, a manual transmission may experience sluggish gear shifting.
  • Smooth Rides over Long Distances: CVT transmissions offer smooth rides over long distances. It provides seamless shifting, allowing the engine to operate at the optimum RPM. It also reduces mechanical losses and vibrations and provides a smooth and comfortable driving experience.
  • Better Torque Ratio: The CVT transmission maintains an optimized RPM range, typically between 2000-4000 RPM. That means the torque ratio remains consistent regardless of driving conditions. 

This makes a vehicle equipped with a CVT highly predictable, providing instant power during acceleration from a standstill or when maintaining constant RPMs for extended periods of time.


The advantages of a CVT transmission include improved fuel efficiency, seamless shifting, smooth rides over long distances, and better torque ratio.

Disadvantages of the CVT Transmission System

Here are some potential disadvantages of the CVT Transmission system.

  • Expensive to Repair: CVT transmissions can be costly to repair in case of a failure or malfunction. Repairing a CVT transmission costs an average of $3,500 to $8,000. The price varies according to the vehicle’s make and model.
  • High Maintenance Cost: Maintenance costs for a CVT transmission can be higher compared to traditional transmissions due to their complex design and more specialized components.
  • Low Towing Capacity: Some CVT transmissions may not have the capability to tow heavy loads, as the transmission may not be designed for this type of use.


Is CVT Better Than Automatic?

Yes, CVT is generally better than traditional automatic transmissions for smoother gear shifting, fuel efficiency, reduced mechanical wear, etc. But It depends on the specific application and personal preferences. However, some drivers may prefer the more traditional driving experience offered by an automatic transmission.

How Long Will a CVT Transmission Last?

CVT transmissions can last and offer reliable operation up to approximately 160,000 kilometres on new vehicles. Also, this can be extended up to 200,000 kilometres if you use proper lubricants and service your car at the recommended intervals. In modern vehicles, it’s typical for a CVT to have a lifespan of over 100,000 miles.

How Often Should PVT Oil Be Changed?

The recommended frequency for changing the transmission fluid in an ATV or SxS is either every 100 hours of use, every 1,000 miles travelled, or annually, whichever comes first. However, the changing interval time may vary depending on your ATV/UTV brand and model. Check your vehicle’s user manual for the correct time period.

Do You Drive a Polaris In High Or Low Gear?

The high gear on an ATV is intended to increase speed and acceleration, while the low gear is meant to boost torque and power. Low gear should be utilized when carrying a load or navigating steep or challenging terrain. However, it’s important not to drive at excessive speeds in low gear as it may put undue stress on the engine.

The Bottom Line

That was all about your query on what does pvt transmission mean? Hopefully, you got the definition of the PVT transmission system and the confusion cleared. Transmission is one of the crucial components of your vehicle. 

So, perform routine maintenance of the transmission system at the recommended interval. This will ensure optimal performance and longevity of the transmission.

1 thought on “What Does PVT Transmission Mean? Definition, Features, and Functionality”

  1. I owned an older model JD Gator with a CVT. It offered zero down grade transmission hold/braking.
    I assume the newer CVS are the same resulting from the centrifugal clutch. Is my assumption correct?


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William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news

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Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at Autoglobes.com with a passion for the automotive industry.