CVTs automatically operate at the most efficient gear ratio, so why fake shifts? And can I turn it off?

2018 and newer Toyota Corolla Hatchbacks and Sedans come with Toyota’s all-new direct shift-CVT transmission with a physical first gear and 9 simulated gears at pre-set ratios. But what if I prefer the CVT drone and don’t like the fake sounding shifts. Can I turn off the simulated shifts on my Toyota Corolla?

Short answer is no.

For the greater good of the average Toyota Corolla owner.

The average Toyota Corolla owner stepping into a 2018 or newer Corolla most likely used to own another Toyota product with a traditional automatic. So, how does Toyota introduce the innovative CVT without scaring new owners with an uncommon drone without shift points like they’re used to?

By adding a physical first gear so their acceleration is peppy off the line and programming in said shift points so even the most basic Corolla owner who knows nothing about CVTs is none the wiser.

Just code with no discernible improvements in performance.

Simulated shift points is just CVT programming code in the ECU with no secret unlock procedure, as far as we know, that can turn it off.

And, there are no performance benefits to shifting on your own.

According to CNET,

Though technically not as efficient, these “virtual gears” make the acceleration feel familiar and have a psychological effect on the driver’s perception of speed.

Toyota says simulated shift points are for engine braking

If your Corolla has paddle shifters, your Toyota manual says the purpose of simulated shift points is so you can manually select your level of engine braking.

  • Gear step functions
    • You can choose from 10 levels of engine braking force.
    • A lower gear step will provide greater engine braking force than a higher gear step, and the engine speed will also increase.

Without paddle shifters, slotting your shift lever into B applies moderate engine braking driving down hills. Your Corolla will adjust your pre-set CVT ratios to hold a simulated shift point with a higher RPM as an engine brake.

This one Youtube video with a Corolla CVT that doesn’t shift

Researching about this topic, I came across exactly (1) video of a 2020 Toyota Corolla SE, its owner, somewhere in the United States, where he mashes the gas, the CVT shifts through first, but doesn’t shift after that. It stays at a higher RPM without shifting like a CVT is supposed to. But how?

Here’s the video and here’s a mirror just in case Toyota secretly deletes it off Youtube.

For comparison, here’s what EVERY new Corolla with a CVT shifts. All those annoying simulated shifts.

Youtube commenters, myself included, asked how he turned his CVT shift points off. No response from OP.

I’ve reached out to Toyota for an explanation of how this is possible.

Until I update this blog with their response, simulated shifts. You’re stuck with them.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here