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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have an Outback that they've driven thru the mountains on I-77. I'm interested in the performance with the CVT transmission!
 

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I posted a few weeks ago about towing an 1100 lb trailer thru the eastern Sierras and Cascades at 4000-7500 ft for about 500 miles. No probs for the CVT 2.5i unless you are in a huge hurry
 

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The CVT is rated for 2700 lbs, any thoughts
Wind impacts the performance and mileage - huge boxy trailer isn't as fun to tow nor do you get good mileage vs a tight compact trailer even if they weigh the same.

40,000 miles with lots of towing so far on the CVT. 1700lbs 21ft 8.5ft wide racing sailboat 16mpg with head wind up I5 at 70mph - tows easy - no head wind flat 21mpg at 65-70 etc.

The 4x6 tent trailer 980lbs empty another 200lbs packed - about as high as the bottom of the window in the rear hatch and 5.5ft wide. 25-26mpg at 70mph I5 - 21mpg in the hills 60-65mph. The boat tows like a dream but you know its there - the tent trailer tows well and you hardly know its there but it hops around a bit and isn't as stable as the boat.

CVT works great. 2700lbs max trailer weight is flat towing under 100 degrees out ie meaning very mild towing conditions. My prior 2.5 towed for over 10yrs and I sold it at 180,000 miles.

The prime max weight for long trips going just about anywhere you want to go regardless of temps or climbs is around 1500lbs. 1200lbs would be even more ideal. Which is why I targeted 1200lbs or less for our camping rig. We can cross CO in the summer - go to Alaska etc and never have a single towing issue regarding it being too much. 1500lbs there are places in CA we go that I would not go with 1500+lbs behind the car simply due to cooling capacity the car simply can't handle the heat and that type of load. You run out of cooling long before you run out of power with the 2.5.

Without the trailer you run out of Handling capability with the OB long before the 2.5 runs out of breath. LOL

cooling capacity limits are stated in the owners manual

CVT is 1350lbs at 104degree temps and 5+mile climb
5spd AT is 1500lbs 104degree temps and 5+mile climb

The Manual 6spd is unrestricted by cooling 2700lbs - so you cook the engine before you cook the transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Subiesailor,

"Without the trailer you run out of Handling capability with the OB long before the 2.5 runs out of breath".

What do you mean by handling capability?

My interest is performance in the mountains while not towing anything. Some of the pulls can be 5% grade for several miles. Will the cvt hold at 65-70 mph and at what engine rpm's.
 

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Subiesailor,

"Without the trailer you run out of Handling capability with the OB long before the 2.5 runs out of breath".

What do you mean by handling capability?

My interest is performance in the mountains while not towing anything. Some of the pulls can be 5% grade for several miles. Will the cvt hold at 65-70 mph and at what engine rpm's.
Yes, and without too much strain. It all depends on what you are used to driving. If you drive a car with 400 torque and it weighs 4k lbs, you will find the OB lacking. If you drive a car with 100 torque and 3k lbs... you might just think the OB is a sports car.

I don't recall what my RPM's were while going up a big grade with the 2.5 and CVT but it was able to hold 60-70 just fine with 900lbs and two adults (I think we were at 5k feet). However, If I want to pass a semi at 60 mph the 2.5 seems to run out of breath even on flat roads (compared to other cars I have driven). So...less than 60 mph, passing is easy. Over 60 mph you have to make sure you have plenty of space. I find the later is true of most cars and trucks though.

If you are asking hypothetically if the 2.5 can take a 5% grade at say 6k feet with the engine under 4k rpm and could still pass someone, I'd say no.
 

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I recently took a trip where I went to just under 11,000 feet in elevation in my 2013 2.5i with the 6mt. While I don't have the CVT, I'm guessing you'll probably see the engine running a lot higher RPM with the CVT when you go beyond 7,500 feet and travel uphill. My car got pretty weak at the summit but I was still able to pass slow vehicles (mountain gawkers). The car definitely handles better then the engine can perform at high altitude (I was wishing for at least 50 more hp to make the switchbacks more fun while I was running that mountain pass).

Just take your time so you don't overheat the engine or transmission and you should be fine with a 5% grade. My daily drive to town and back includes a hill with 6% grade at 70 mph and my Outback handles it just fine. I don't know what engine RPM you'll be running with the CVT but I only need to downshift to 5th gear to maintain my 70mph speed while going up my hill (granted, my elevation is only about 2,500 feet).
 

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Because I-77 crosses the Appalachians, the elevations will generally be less than a mile. This isn't to say that there aren't significant grades, but at least the air density stays high, relative to, say, I-70 west of Denver.

We had the 2.5i with CVT (it turns out) as a rental at around 7500' for a couple of weeks, and I was very glad for the paddle shifters--they're what made it tolerable. Without them, I'd describe the "performance" as sluggish at best. HPH
 
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