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2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (The Superoo), Graphite Gray Metallic, CVT, Yoko Geolandar G015 AT 225/65R-17
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236 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I don't know if this qualifies as irreconcilable, but this forum is full of strong opinions on which transmission is the best one for our outbacks. I'm a fan of the CVT myself and I've only got the first gen. I love not having that awkward downshift when the slush box finally decides you want to accelerate with any sort of urgency. On ramps, and exiting corners with haste are now so much smoother! And I love having my paddle shifters to keep it in a low gear off road.

Tough to say if I would enjoy having a manual more and that is saying something as I've been a stick shift guy since I got my license. Sometimes I miss it, but I've enjoyed not having to worry about it in Austin traffic.

Is this argument worth having here?
 

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It's more of moot point, no? Since Subaru has discontinued the stick in the Outback and now in the Forester. I currently have a 2012 Forester 2.5i Premium with a 5MT. That trans/engine combo is lively. Plenty of power with a full load even going uphill. My next vehicle will probably be the Outback 3.6R since the 4 sounds like it's too slow. I would love a really nice, loaded car but with a stick which is all but impossible in the USA these days. But I've driven sticks for about 35 years so it was a lot of fun while it lasted and I will look forward to not having to deal with it in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Worst traffic experience was driving from Atl to NJ on Sunday after Thanksgiving. Bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-81 the entire length of VA--it was nightmarishly long and I was so tired of all the clutch, shift work . . .
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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14,366 Posts
I've had a manual Outback and enjoyed it, but I LOVE my current 5EAT. True, in normal mode it is slow to kick down. But in sport mode it's extremely responsive, no complaints.

I haven't spent enough time with a Subaru CVT to say much. They certainly didn't bother me though.
 

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2016 WRX, 2017 BRZ, 2017 Legacy
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366 Posts
It depends on the car and how it's used.

For long term ownership I'll take a bulletproof manual with known and expected clutch replacement costs over a slushbox. I won't own a CVT/Auto w/o a warranty.

Our Outback XT 5MT is much enhanced with the manual because the gears are shorter and it leaps off the line. It allow me to use every RPM however I want. Since converting from DMF to SMF there is as much communication from the engine through the clutch pedal as there is through the throttle, brake, or steering wheel.

Our BRZ was made for it's 6MT. I couldn't imagine how lifeless this car would be with only 205hp and a CVT. Yuck. Same with Honda Preludes ... I drove one with an auto and it was terrible, whereas the 5MT was fantastic.

Our Legacy 2.5i w/CVT is fine. It's the one CVT I've driven which I don't hate, even though it tries to emulate an auto. Since it is a Legacy, with a mushy suspension, no power, light imprecise steering and no side bolsters on the seats, it is as non-sporty as it can possibly get and a manual transmission wouldn't add anything to car ... except long-term reliability.

The BMW 535i 6MT was awesome. The manual transmission was integral with the rest of that car's performance that without, it was just another premium 4-door sedan, like a Lexus, Infinity etc (minus the reliability). Not to mention that BMW automatic transmissions are only slightly less reliable than the rest of their vehicles, while the manual transmissions are near unbreakable.

Back to the question .. for the Outback, I would probably pick a CVT. It isn't a performance car by any stretch of the imagination. The older 3.6R's had automatics and those were troublesome, so the CVT is an improvement. If doing any climbing/offroad work I wouldn't want a clutch to burn out, so it would need to have a very low first gear which would otherwise be annoying (and expensive). But if they ever make another turbo legacy, then I would want a 6MT .. with the suspension to match it.
 

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2018 Legacy 36R
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I have a Legacy which only comes with a CVT, as does the new Outback. I have had two other cars with CVTs both Toyota Hybrids so the concept isn't new to me. I am an old guy so I have owned a lot of cars, most of them with manual transmissions, my previous car was an Accord with a 6 MT, great transmission. But I wanted a car with Eyesight type systems and I thought the Legacy was a good choice, so far that has proven to be true.


As to the Subaru CVT, I like it. It's smooth and provides good acceleration for passing, entering the freeway, etc. I don't care about "off the line" acceleration because I don't need it. I do have one issue with this CVT and that is the use of fake gears, so we can pretend we have a "normal" automatic I guess. It's a CVT, why not let it act like one. The paddle shifters are OK but I only use the down-shift mode and only when descending steep hills. I let the fake up-shifts take care of themselves.
 

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'18 Outback Touring Dark Blue Pearl 3.6r
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1,655 Posts
The "fake" shifts are not really fake, they just are different than what you get with an Electronic Automatic Transmission. It's not choosing a different planetary gear within the transmission, it is choosing a different location on the variable diameter pulleys which in essence is a different output ratio.

 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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12,306 Posts
The 5EAT is about bullet proof unless it has been:

-Neglected.
-Abused.
-Fed the wrong ATF.
 
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2012 Outback 3.6R
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The older 3.6R's had automatics and those were troublesome, so the CVT is an improvement.
The 5EAT is troublesome. What were the troubles and what do you base this statement on. The 5EAT was widely used by several manufactures and has proven to be a very good transmission.
 

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The manual mode on the CVT makes the manual trasmission obsolete. The fact that current models have a CVT that behaves like an automatic makes the automatic obsolete. The current CVT provides everything the other transmissions did and then some.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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6,139 Posts
The current CVT provides everything the other transmissions did and then some.
The jury is still out on long term reliability of the current CVT. While they might have fixed all of the reliability issues seen with earlier models, time will tell.

It also is quite a bit more expensive to service for a fluid change.
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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4,204 Posts
The manual mode on the CVT makes the manual trasmission obsolete. The fact that current models have a CVT that behaves like an automatic makes the automatic obsolete. The current CVT provides everything the other transmissions did and then some.
Unfortunately with the fake shift points the CVT fails to provide one thing--a continuously variable transmission. Maybe they should change the name.
 

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'18 Outback Touring Dark Blue Pearl 3.6r
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1,655 Posts
Unfortunately with the fake shift points the CVT fails to provide one thing--a continuously variable transmission. Maybe they should change the name.
I'd say they are not fake and the transmission is still varying it's output continuously. ;) It's not shifting gears but it's still shifting where the pullies are at any given time.

JMHO of course.

https://shrtm.nu/mflt
 

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2017 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited
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58 Posts
Yesterday we drove to a destination on the sunrise side of the Blue Ridge Mountains for a Low Country Boil. There is almost a 2,000 foot change in elevation required "going over the mountain" as we call it. Instead of taking the most direct route (it still uses using one of the gaps to cross), I decided to try two of the lesser crossings. Both prohibit through commercial vehicles due to the sharp curves and rapid changes of the grade.

Going there I tried one route that is more downgrade as we are already at 1,400 foot elevation. I would leave the CVT in Drive but downshift (- paddle) to retard my speed. Convenient and easy to use.

On the return, I used a different route that had about 20 miles of narrow roadway that was constantly changing. It reminded me of a mule path turned into a road! I started by just leaving it in Drive but found that I really needed it in Manual mode due to the many changes. I actually drove it rather spiritedly as I had a Mercedes SL behind and didn't want to be an obstruction, plus there weren't any pull-offs to duck into! The only fault that I found was "loosing" the paddles due to having to rotate the steering further than just planting my hands on the wheel. A couple of times I was trying to flip the Information Button pod!

I have to admit that I somewhat agree with fmw in #11 regarding the CVT vs. a manual transmission as it does stay in that setting compared to an automatic. But for really driving in the "twisties" I'd rather a manual.
 

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2012 Outback 3.6R
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510 Posts
I have to admit that I somewhat agree with fmw in #11 regarding the CVT vs. a manual transmission as it does stay in that setting compared to an automatic. But for really driving in the "twisties" I'd rather a manual.
Note sure I understand your statement.

When my 5 EAT is in manual mode it will stay in the gear I select with the shifter or the paddles on the steering wheel.
As for the twisties I prefer the 5EAT in manual mode as I do not have to worry about getting throttle and clutch matched. I just have to shift gears with the gear shifter or most of the time with the paddles on the steering wheel. If a down shift will result in excessive RPMs the transmission will not shift unlike a manual.
 

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2017 Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited
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Note sure I understand your statement.

When my 5 EAT is in manual mode it will stay in the gear I select with the shifter or the paddles on the steering wheel.
As for the twisties I prefer the 5EAT in manual mode as I do not have to worry about getting throttle and clutch matched. I just have to shift gears with the gear shifter or most of the time with the paddles on the steering wheel. If a down shift will result in excessive RPMs the transmission will not shift unlike a manual.
Sorry, I probably misstated regarding a Subaru automatic. Older domestic auto transmissions behaved that way.

Not that I care to find out but will the CVT prevent too extreme a downshift?
 

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2010 Outback 3.6R 2014 Legacy 2.5i 2003 Legacy L special edition (retired to backup)
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^most if not all electronically controlled auto will not allow for engine to over rev in a downshift either...most will hold current gear until speed is low enough to allow for a downshift without over reving… been that way for quite a while now
 

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2020 Outback Premium
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The CVT in our 2020 sure acts like a true CVT. It appears to use fixed shift points only when you give it more gas. With lighter accelerator use (like a mild hill) it doesn't go to those fixed points and it seems to be a true CVT.

I suspect its programmed to hold fixed ratios during heavier acceleration because of the stress on the mechanism that changes the ratios. I wonder if the older-generations of Subaru CVTs behave that same way?
 
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