My first time posting to this forum, but I have a fundamental transmission question for the members. I plan to be a Subaru owner in the very near future, probably an Outback, or possibly a 2014 Forester. For handling mountain grades, with extended downhill sections, can the CVT be shifted down to retard the vehicle so you don't have to ride the brakes so hard? The 2.5 models come with the CVT, whereas the 3.6's come with a conventional 5 speed auto w/ paddle shifters. My concerns are tending me to go for the 3.6 just to get away from the CVT. I see where the mileage seems to be better with the CVT, but I worry about slippage and ineffective downshift control. I plan to do some light trailer hauling (1600 lbs) in addition to general highway and errand running use. Do these CVT's do a decent job? My Ford Superduty has the Tow/Haul mode which really works great, so this is kind of setting my expectation.
Thanks for any info and experience you may offer.
I have towed many trailers over the years with various cars including the older Subarus and the new one with the CVT. 1600lbs is within what I like to call the sweet spot but starting to get into the heavy side of that sweet spot for basically all the Subarus given their cooling capacity and running gear etc. Having said that I've towed 1700+lbs many times with the CVT the prior car was the 2.5 Legacy GT non turbo with the 5spd MT which was great but lacked cooling ability for the long climbs in hot temps with anything beyond about 1000lbs.
The new Gen4 cooling system is far far better and the CVT is proving to be pretty dang nice for the tow effort given for the climbs you really don't have any flat spots like you get with the fixed gear autos or even the manual you just pick the speed that works best for the climb and temps etc and just plug along.
The really big deal is the outside temps! I'm in Ca and there are a few places we go in the summer where it is common to see 110 degree temps and very steep climbs. Which case my summer time camping rig set up was 1300lbs or less empty trailer weight which case the trailer I ended up with is 900lbs empty. The CVT hardly notices it. I've hauled the same trailer over the I5 Grapevine with about 700lbs in it +900 and the CVT and 2.5 easily did the run with no issues however it was in the 60's temp wise not a hot trip. Regarding the climb out of LA 3200rpm had us running between 63mph and 50mph the whole crossing which is very respectable given we had plenty of extra juice to pick up the pace when needed.
It's no f250!!! But those of us who have towed with the big pickups are smart enough to know this. My boat runs 1700lbs empty weight with trailer behind the car and we have hauled it packed with camping gear and three adults one child +dog up past Auburn Ca up I80 which has some fair climbs in 80 degree temps and the OB and CVT handled it beautifully we even got a trip average of 23mpg on that trip. My old 5spd 2.5 could only do that trip with me solo and the boat empty cooling was just not there to keep things cool. The 2010 with CVT never showed any sign of getting even warm with a much larger load. The steepest climb is a short one about a 6% up to the lake and the 2.5 with CVT held the 45mph speed limit easily could have gone faster. The old 5spd 2.5 had plenty of power for that climb also but cooling was the limiting factor always was with the old car.
My only caution would be high drag trailers tall box trailers - hot temps and long climbs when your 1500lbs and up.
The owners manual has a cooling system note and limitation listed
CVT is 1350lbs for 104+temps and 5+ mile climbs
The 5spd AT is 1500lbs same conditions
The MT 6spd lists your limit of 2700lbs but I can promise you 2700lbs 104+ temps and 5+mile hard climb you'll run out of cooling capacity before you run out of power.
The longer wheel base on the Legacy and OB make for some really nice towing and handling with the trailer by the way. One of the reasons I almost always haul the trailer with the Subaru over even our Sequoia the subaru just does it well with better mileage and is a nicer drive.
Short hauls 2000lbs is doable in mild temps. I found my 1700lb boat to be about where the limit is for the longer road trips go much heavier than 1700lbs and you do find your self wanting a bigger vehicle for those really windy sections of the trip or when the temps get hot and you have a climb ahead of you etc. But keeping it under 1700lbs seems to really be the ideal towing weight range for any of the subarus.