At the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda unveiled the Earth Dreams Technology range, a set of new engines, transmissions and hybrid drivetrains which it claimed would help it lead the automotive industry in fuel efficiency for every segment within three years. 

Now the Japanese automaker has expanded that range with a new continuously variable transmission (CVT), which it will use in midsize vehicles to improve performance and fuel economy. 

But Honda’s first recipient of the new transmission won’t be its popular Honda Accord. It will be a functional, kid-toting Minivan. 

Yes, the latest weapon in the war against rising gas bills and ever-tougher emissions regulations is the Honda StepWGN, a Japan-only Minivan sized between the Honda Odyssey Van and Honda Pilot Crossover.

According to its press release, Honda claims the new transmission is capable of improving fuel economy by 5 percent over previous generation CVT and 10 percent over a traditional 5-speed automatic gearbox.

Why are we reporting on a CVT transmission that is currently being used in a Japan-only car? 

Honda Earth Dreams Technology engine

Honda Earth Dreams Technology engine

Until now, Honda has used its CVT transmission for compact gasoline and hybrid cars. 

With a large-car CVT transmission now developed, Honda is one step closer to bringing the benefits of CVT transmission to everything from its Accord sedan through to the Crosstour, Odyssey and even 2WD Pilot. 

Take it one step further, and we could easily imagine Honda applying its new two-motor hybrid system to those same cars for class-leading fuel economy.

The net result? Lower fuel bills, without compromising on space or versatility, a fact that will surely improve Honda’s market share among car-owning Americans. 


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