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I would recommend driving it before damning it.

I've been happy with mine.
I drove an infiniti q60 sedan with a 7-speed auto and am happy with the cvt in mine. I had about a day or two of getting used to no shifts but it was seamless to transition for me.
 

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Well, this was fun reading. I have been on the Forester owners forum since 2014, and just recently joined this one. The CVT was a long standing topic over there, and I had some fairly heated exchanges with a few folks that took their CVT love very seriously.

I grew to hate my 2014 2.5i Forester, not only because of the CVT, but the host of dumb drivetrain elements that made it maddening to operate. Excessive throttle tip in, surging, rubber banding out the wazoo, and that lovely hit the throttle when ya need it but go nowhere character. And the droning. Lord.

So, still liking Subaru I ditched the 2014 and bought a 2015 FXTT, with the HT CVT and SI drive. Well, the engine and response was super, after some turbo lag, but it still was a pretty rough customer. To smooth it out you needed to give it some pedal, and it still had some surging, and that DIT had a severe carbon fouling issue.

Along the way I continued to roast the CVT in general, while praising somewhat the 2015 XT version, but only compared to the 2.5, which I loathed. Actually, it was the drivetrain and lackluster programming, coupled with the CVT, that gave it that overall unpleasant nature.

I agree with many of the posters that much of the annoyance I experienced is personal preference, and the fact that I’m an old guy with habits honed over a lifetime of driving sticks or step transmissions. But that’s what it is, and I like what pleases me for my $.

So now. I’ve had my 2019 OBT 3.6r for 700 miles. And I must say, my previous complaints are long gone. The drivetrain, including the CVT, is just wonderful. The nice, smooth torque makes me drive it so it hardly ever hits the shift points, and I don’t notice them anyway.
All I can say is with the right engine, and a bunch of years to work on improvements, Subaru got it right, at least for me. I couldn’t be more pleased, and happy to change my attitude.

I notice no rubber banding, the ratio changes are swift and sure, and it all goes as smooth as a bobsled on ice. Like my FXT in “S” mode, when passing I give it some gun and it goes, without screaming to redline and making me wonder if I will make it back into my lane without a head on.

A lot of that is because the vehicle is not grossly, stupidly underpowered, as the Forester 2.5 was, and is, as well as the other, well, you know models with similar power. And, I fully admit that’s personal preference, too, but it is what it is. I can’t see how driving a vehicle that takes nearly 11 seconds to hit 0-60 is fun or safe, unless it’s in a parking lot.

So, I don’t dislike all CVTs anymore, I’m so glad to admit.

Cheers,

EJ


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The problem isn't the CVT, the problem is the engine.

It's all about torque. Shift points are required when the demand for acceleration is greater than the torque required for the RPMs at the point of demand. A shift is required to get the higher RPMs that provide the needed torque. Shift points are basically saying the driver has a heavy foot. If you don't want to feel a shift point, lift your foot off the gas pedal.

Rubberbanding is more complicated, but I believe it occurs where the demand for power is low enough to not require a CVT shift point to higher RPMs, but at the max torque for the demand. As the car speeds up, the RPMs increase to a higher torque, which pulls the car harder. Thus the feeling of a rubberband. I felt the same thing in cars with small 4 cylinder turbo diesels and standard transmissions. As the RPMs increased with the car speed, the turbo increased the power curve at the higher RPMs making the engine pull the car harder. For the small diesel, I could either do a lot of shifting like the Subaru 4 cylinder CVT, or be patient and wait for the car to a accelerate to a speed where the engine higher RPMs gain the power advantage of the turbo. Huge rubber band effect if I don't manually shift the standard transmission to a lower gear for instant higher RPMs.

Like the turbo diesel, the Subaru engine doesn't have enough torque at the lower RPMs to provide constant acceleration. Since the better torque is at the higher RPMs, the car accelerates or pulls harder as it speeds up.

I test drove two Foresters: the one without the turbo didn't have much acceleration and I had to patiently wait to get to the speed I wanted. The one with the turbo had much better torque for better accelleration, but was constantly shifting to seek the higher RPMs for the higher torque. It was annoying on small gradual hills.

The perfect solution is a 8 cylinder engine. There is no replacement for displacement.

Beary
 

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So now. I’ve had my 2019 OBT 3.6r for 700 miles. And I must say, my previous complaints are long gone. The drivetrain, including the CVT, is just wonderful. The nice, smooth torque makes me drive it so it hardly ever hits the shift points, and I don’t notice them anyway.
All I can say is with the right engine, and a bunch of years to work on improvements, Subaru got it right, at least for me. I couldn’t be more pleased, and happy to change my attitude.
I also have a 2019 Outback 3.6r, now for 6,900 miles AND LOVE THE CVT. This is my first automatic car EVER, always having stick-shifts for the past 40 years. Well, tough to find what I needed in a stick in 2019, so the 3.6r! Also, my left hip no longer hurts!
 

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The problem isn't the CVT, the problem is the engine.

It's all about torque. Shift points are required when the demand for acceleration is greater than the torque required for the RPMs at the point of demand. A shift is required to get the higher RPMs that provide the needed torque. Shift points are basically saying the driver has a heavy foot. If you don't want to feel a shift point, lift your foot off the gas pedal.

Rubberbanding is more complicated, but I believe it occurs where the demand for power is low enough to not require a CVT shift point to higher RPMs, but at the max torque for the demand. As the car speeds up, the RPMs increase to a higher torque, which pulls the car harder. Thus the feeling of a rubberband. I felt the same thing in cars with small 4 cylinder turbo diesels and standard transmissions. As the RPMs increased with the car speed, the turbo increased the power curve at the higher RPMs making the engine pull the car harder. For the small diesel, I could either do a lot of shifting like the Subaru 4 cylinder CVT, or be patient and wait for the car to a accelerate to a speed where the engine higher RPMs gain the power advantage of the turbo. Huge rubber band effect if I don't manually shift the standard transmission to a lower gear for instant higher RPMs.

Like the turbo diesel, the Subaru engine doesn't have enough torque at the lower RPMs to provide constant acceleration. Since the better torque is at the higher RPMs, the car accelerates or pulls harder as it speeds up.

I test drove two Foresters: the one without the turbo didn't have much acceleration and I had to patiently wait to get to the speed I wanted. The one with the turbo had much better torque for better accelleration, but was constantly shifting to seek the higher RPMs for the higher torque. It was annoying on small gradual hills.

The perfect solution is a 8 cylinder engine. There is no replacement for displacement.

Beary


Well my FXT had a load of torque but it wasn’t linear. Take off was always rubber bandy unless I gave it a lot of throttle in “S” or “S#”. Passing at 60 mph or so, popping the paddle down one gear and in S it took off like a rocket, no hesitation or RB.

The 3.6 is a six, not an eight, of course, but it does just fine. BTW, I tried out an OB 2.5 and the CVT was pretty darn good, although the engine was not enough for the vehicle.


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Well my FXT had a load of torque but it wasn’t linear. Take off was always rubber bandy unless I gave it a lot of throttle in “S” or “S#”. Passing at 60 mph or so, popping the paddle down one gear and in S it took off like a rocket, no hesitation or RB.

The 3.6 is a six, not an eight, of course, but it does just fine. BTW, I tried out an OB 2.5 and the CVT was pretty darn good, although the engine was not enough for the vehicle.
Yes, your FXT was rubberbandy on takeoff because the torque wasn't Linear and the transmission didn't have a lower gear to get the higher rpm.


The 3.6 does just fine is of course personal. If it had a little more power, I think many of the complaints in this discussion would go away. Also, I could always use another 100 horses, even in my corvette.:cool:


The CVT is pretty good with the 2.5 because the cause of the complaints is the power of the engine, not the operation of the CVT itself.


Beary
 

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Huh. Based on that logic, hardly any Subaru vehicles should have a CVT because they are either wimpy fours, small turbos, or the 3,6 six, which is being replaced.

All of them are unsuitable, it seems. Is there an eight cylinder vehicle with a CVT ? Anywhere?
 

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Huh. Based on that logic, hardly any Subaru vehicles should have a CVT because they are either wimpy fours, small turbos, or the 3,6 six, which is being replaced.

All of them are unsuitable, it seems. Is there an eight cylinder vehicle with a CVT ? Anywhere?
Lexus 600H.

:smile2:
 

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Like the turbo diesel, the Subaru engine doesn't have enough torque at the lower RPMs to provide constant acceleration. Since the better torque is at the higher RPMs, the car accelerates or pulls harder as it speeds up.
Have to disagree with you there. Modern diesel engines have gobs of low end torque. They run out of ummph at higher RPMs, typically with redlines below 5000 RPM. My Passat was easy to drive with the engine below 2000 RPM, because there was so much low end torque. And it was a smooth power band until reaching 4000 RPM, so constant acceleration was not an issue. And of course I was getting mid-40s MPG at the same time in a pretty good sized sedan. :grin2:
 

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Huh. Based on that logic, hardly any Subaru vehicles should have a CVT because they are either wimpy fours, small turbos, or the 3,6 six, which is being replaced.

All of them are unsuitable, it seems. Is there an eight cylinder vehicle with a CVT ? Anywhere?


Unsuitable for what?

Most Subaru owners are quite satisfied with CVT even with shift points and rubberbanding.


Beary
 

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You don’t read your own posts. You said the problem was the engines and mentioned the 2.0 DIT, the 2,5 and even the 3.6. not a poorly matched CVT or lousy engine programming.

Decent engine plus decent tranny plus decent tuning equals good results in my book.
 

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You don’t read your own posts. You said the problem was the engines and mentioned the 2.0 DIT, the 2,5 and even the 3.6. not a poorly matched CVT or lousy engine programming.

Decent engine plus decent tranny plus decent tuning equals good results in my book.

Sure, a decent GM 505 hp LS7 engine would be a great fit. AND FUN.


The fuel efficient Subaru engine is the reason for programmed shift points. For a CVT to satisfy you, the engine needs more power. If Subarus had that kind of power, CVTs wouldn't even need programmed shift points because the engine would have the torque to accelerate quickly to whatever the driver demands. But because Subaru wants to market a fuel efficient car, they have to build the CVT with shift points for those of us who want to get up and go faster. Subaru is giving us the best of both worlds, economy and power. It's just comes at the cost of those annoying shift points. Those same shift points that other car manufacturers provide with automatic transmissions.


I do agree with you though, the problem isn't the engine, its your heavy foot. Ease back a bit and you won't feel those annoying shift points. Rubberbanding maybe, but not the shift points.


Beary
 

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The fuel efficient Subaru engine is the reason for programmed shift points. For a CVT to satisfy you, the engine needs more power. If Subarus had that kind of power, CVTs wouldn't even need programmed shift points because the engine would have the torque to accelerate quickly to whatever the driver demands. But because Subaru wants to market a fuel efficient car, they have to build the CVT with shift points for those of us who want to get up and go faster.
There is so much wrong in your recent posts that I don't know where to begin. For starters, you seem to hold a fundamental misunderstanding of power, torque, and CVT operation. "Simulated shifts" do not increase either performance or fuel economy, they are merely there to provide the seat-of-the-pants driving experience some drivers expect.

Any given horsepower demand (within the capabilities of a particular engine) can be satisfied by an infiinite combination of torque and rpm ... power ~ torque x rpm ... but only a narrow range of those combinations will yield the highest efficiency and fuel economy at any given moment. The virtually infinite range of ratios provided by a CVT allows the onboard computers to command the optimum engine rpm for any given power demand. "Simulated shifts" actually compromise this capability.
 

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There is so much wrong in your recent posts that I don't know where to begin. For starters, you seem to hold a fundamental misunderstanding of power, torque, and CVT operation. "Simulated shifts" do not increase either performance or fuel economy, they are merely there to provide the seat-of-the-pants driving experience some drivers expect.

Any given horsepower demand (within the capabilities of a particular engine) can be satisfied by an infiinite combination of torque and rpm ... power ~ torque x rpm ... but only a narrow range of those combinations will yield the highest efficiency and fuel economy at any given moment. The virtually infinite range of ratios provided by a CVT allows the onboard computers to command the optimum engine rpm for any given power demand. "Simulated shifts" actually compromise this capability.
The CVT only shifts when the driver demands more acceleration than the engine torque is capable. That shift may compromise economy, but it improves acceleration.


None of what I said is changed by your post. Whether or not the shift points are there for feel or performance doesn't matter if the proper amount of torque is enough for the car to accelerate at rate that doesn't activate the shift point. And the infinite combinations of torque...power,, and programing do have one big limitation, torque. I can assure you that there is no amount of programming, with or without shift points, that will get the Forester off the line to 60 mph faster than a 2019 Corvette. The Corvette has more power and torque.


And, I am quite confident that my 3.6 will not accelerate from 50 mph to 70 mph at 2000 cruise RPMS at the same rate of 3500 RPMs because I know the torque is different. The CVT is programmed to shift so I can get to that best torque RPM quicker. Why do you think the turbo 4 cylinder Forester shifts so much? I'm pretty sure it's not for that seat of the pants feel. Otherwise they would have put that same seat of the pants feel program in my 3.6.


Beary
 

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Sure, a decent GM 505 hp LS7 engine would be a great fit. AND FUN.


The fuel efficient Subaru engine is the reason for programmed shift points. For a CVT to satisfy you, the engine needs more power. If Subarus had that kind of power, CVTs wouldn't even need programmed shift points because the engine would have the torque to accelerate quickly to whatever the driver demands. But because Subaru wants to market a fuel efficient car, they have to build the CVT with shift points for those of us who want to get up and go faster. Subaru is giving us the best of both worlds, economy and power. It's just comes at the cost of those annoying shift points. Those same shift points that other car manufacturers provide with automatic transmissions.


I do agree with you though, the problem isn't the engine, its your heavy foot. Ease back a bit and you won't feel those annoying shift points. Rubberbanding maybe, but not the shift points.


Beary


You are mixing up the elements of my posts with those of other folks. It’s OK though, I’m not offended, as this is just chat for me. No hard feelings either way. I’m certain we are posting here because we enjoy our vehicles or at least posting about them.

I happen to appreciate the simulated shift points, but seldom feel them in the 3.6. I didn’t have them on my 2014 Forester 2.5i (it didn’t even have paddles) and the 2015 FXTT didn’t have simulated shift points either, except in S# mode, which was different anyway.

I don’t have technical knowledge about the mechanics of the various CVTs I have owned in my vehicles or otherwise driven, just whether the drivetrain was responsive and felt good to drive. Most have not for reasons already mentioned. I personally don’t give a hoot whether some Subaru owners are happy with a drivetrain I loathe, I just want one I like.

Truthfully, other than the folks that tend to post on these forums, the average Subaru driver I meet while waiting at the dealer showroom during service visits doesn’t have a clue about any of the stuff we are arguing about. They don’t know what a “flat six” or “flat four” is or what a CVT might be. Not a vague clue. They just want a pleasant, safe, and long lasting driving experience. I know because I have made casual conversation numerous times about their vehicles mechanical qualities and gotten blank looks almost every time. They hardly could find the oil dip stick or check the air in their tires unless they consulted the owners manual. And, that’s pretty normal, I would imagine. It’s us who post here that are somewhat abnormal.

And, high horsepower isn’t the answer to everything. The finest and most fun vehicle I have ever owned was a modestly powered 2013 Mazda Miata GT with a retractable hard top and a wonderfully slick manual.

EJ
 

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The CVT only shifts when the driver demands more acceleration than the engine torque is capable. That shift may compromise economy, but it improves acceleration.
I think you are getting details confused here. The “shift points” are generally upshift points as implemented in the Gen 5.

The sort of “downshift” effect that the CVT kicks in (or the old 4EAT from my 2001) when the throttle is opened up may do as you say, but that’s not really the problem per se. The problem is that by adding the shift points, the engine drops out of the peak torque band during harder acceleration. Why? Who the eff knows beyond the “people didn’t like it” reason mentioned by the sales folks, but the 2013 CVT was tuned so that it was possible to hold the engine near 4100RPM while accelerating with the 2.5 FB engine. It didn’t suddenly “upshift” without throttle input changes like the Gen 5s do.

That said, the improvements on rubber banding since 2013 let me suffer heavy traffic better, and it’s at least a fair trade in my case.
 

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I just had to go and make this one.

I just got one too many "Subaru is great but the CVT isn't" comments and have a bone to pick with these folk.

Most of the comments and posts here boil down to 3 things:

1. Bad Off Road
2. Unreliable
3. Doesn't feel good

1. "Bad Off Road" Is easy to disprove.

Go anywhere on the internet (or even my corner of it) and watch a CVT Subaru go off road.

Then compare it to the older 4/5EAT's.

The CVT in my experience is more capable because of the VDC systems that they get. I haven't seen a lot of people pushing the older VDC cars except maybe @scalman


2. "Unreliable." This one is a little harder to disprove but still pretty easy.

Go anywhere on the internet and look at the failure rate of the CVTs (Subaru has used 2, the 580 and the 690) and compare them to the failure rate of the older 4/5EATs.

I used the NHTSA website and found on average more reported issues with the older transmissions than with the CVTs. This isn't completely fair as there are more Gen 5's made than there are 1, 2, and 3's combined. But it is a good starting point.

I even had my reservations about the CVT in my XV that I owned for a short time. But after owning 3 of them and having no issues I don't think it's fair to call them unreliable.

Yes, the CVT has had issues. Yes, you can find reports of them needing replacement at 50k miles. But you can do that with 5EAT's too.

The 4EAT is only bulletproof if you choose to ignore the center diff binding, the parking pawl, slipping, hard shifting, duty solenoids failing, and the entirety of the SVX.

None of the transmissions Subaru use (4EAT, 5EAT, TR580, TR690) are bulletproof and it shouldn't be described as such. They're all good systems though.




3. "Feels bad, man" This one is going to be nearly impossible to disprove.

I can't offer much data here beyond my own thoughts:

All the automotive journalists tend to hate them and as such the CVT gets a bad rap.

Some people don't like the droning/motorboat feeling so Subaru added fake shifts in so now some people don't like the fake shifts. They can't win.

They get blamed for the car being slow and in my experience the CVT is slower than the 5EAT off the line (0-30) but 30-90 it can match a 5EAT.

So in my mind if it's speed you're after you shouldn't buy a CVT... Or an Automatic... Or an Outback... Or a Subaru if I'm honest. The fast ones aren't fast.

Not unless you think matching a stock minivan or stock Honda Accord is fast.


Final thoughts:

Do your own research. Think for yourself. Question authority. I'm just a guy wearing a raccoon for a hat.

But based on my own research it seems the CVT is unfairly hated on this forum and many other corners of the internet and hopefully this post helps change that.
 

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That’s all very encouraging!

One question: The thing I dislike most about the other CVTs I’ve driven (I’m lookin’ at you, Nissan) is the very brief but noticeable lag between when I depress the accelerator and the engine/tranny actually begins pulling the vehicle. It was almost impossible for a smooth launch from a standing start.

Is that just the nature of the beast and I’d need to just get used to it?
 

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Try aiming for the middle of the accelerator pedal rather than pushing the top. It’s much smoother - thanks for the tip @Robert.Mauro
 
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