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Old 04-22-2008, 07:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Automatic or Manual for snow?

Hey everyone,

Just looking at getting an 09 2.5X Premium and I'm trying to decide whether to get the manual or automatic transmission. I guess the deciding factor (for me) would be - which one handles better in snow? I get a lot of snow and poor road conditions where I live.

I know depending on which transmission you choose that the vehicle handles power to the wheels differently, (viscous-coupled locking centre-differential that distributes power 50/50, front/rear for manual, or an electronically controlled multi-plate transfer clutch system that actively manages power distribution based on acceleration, deceleration and traction for the automatic version) so which would be better? Just by reading it it sounds like the automatic would be better, but who knows. :)

Thanks!!
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's been noted that the Manual transmission is better for snow.

Unlike the automatic, which does not default to 50/50 torque distribution, the manual transmission DOES.

In my experience, the Manual transmission has outperformed the automatic in all snowy conditions I've driven in. But it ultimately depends on which you like to drive more.

VDC is about as good as the AWD pot gets though, so if that's an option for you, I'd STRONGLY consider that even though it's an automatic.
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Old 04-22-2008, 07:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BAC5.2 View Post
It's been noted that the Manual transmission is better for snow.

Unlike the automatic, which does not default to 50/50 torque distribution, the manual transmission DOES.

In my experience, the Manual transmission has outperformed the automatic in all snowy conditions I've driven in. But it ultimately depends on which you like to drive more.

VDC is about as good as the AWD pot gets though, so if that's an option for you, I'd STRONGLY consider that even though it's an automatic.
Thanks for the info! I actually prefer driving a manual, and according to what I've read on the internet - both the automatic and the manual use VDC. Not sure if that's different for the '09 or not.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I would recommend the manual as well.... Not only do you have the good 50/50 split, but you have much more control over torque and wheelspin.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The manual does not actually use VDC, only the 4EAT's equipped with VDC use it. The manual simply uses a viscous coupler whose only mission is to maintain a 50/50 torque split.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:32 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The manual does not actually use VDC, only the 4EAT's equipped with VDC use it. The manual simply uses a viscous coupler whose only mission is to maintain a 50/50 torque split.
Hmm, weird. So this Canadian Driver site is incorrect?

CanadianDriver: First Drive - 2009 Subaru Forester

From the above article:

"And the new Forester, it probably goes without saying, features full-time all wheel drive, although two different versions are used depending on the presence of a manual or automatic transmission. Manual transmission vehicles (five-speed) use a viscous-coupled locking centre-differential that distributes power 50/50, front/rear. Vehicles with an automatic transmission (it's a four-speed), use an electronically controlled multi-plate transfer clutch system that actively manages power distribution based on acceleration, deceleration and traction. Both systems work in conjunction with the now standard vehicle stability control and traction control (Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control, or VDC)."
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Get whichever you want, then buy a good set of snow tires. My 2007 2.5X Auto did awesome over the winter in Northern New York (Watertown), and I purchased a set of Brigestone Blizasks and had no issues at all, even when others were sliding all over the place.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:51 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Both do very well. With the auto if you leave it in D and go out in a parking lot for some fun it will behave a little bit strangely (it wants to be as FWD as possible in D for gas mileage/ highway manners) However this is on the older autos, with VDC it is completely different, and I would definitely go for a model with VDC.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm going to be the odd-man out here.

I actually prefer my wifes 4EAT Legacy in the snow, the system works so flawlessly that you don't even realise how bad the conditions are until you get out and fall on your backside

My DD 5mt 2.2litre Outback OTOH you certainly know how the roads are.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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In the end it comes down to your personal preference. If you prefer driving a manual that is probably your better option. As it has been mentioned above both do well in snowy conditions, especially once you throw some good winter tires on the Foz.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:15 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm going to be the odd-man out here.

I actually prefer my wifes 4EAT Legacy in the snow, the system works so flawlessly that you don't even realise how bad the conditions are until you get out and fall on your backside

My DD 5mt 2.2litre Outback OTOH you certainly know how the roads are.
I agree, but doing donuts in the snow is a little weird with the 4eat unless you put it in 1 or 2. Also if you do get a little stuck you can just keep your foot down on the gas without worrying too much about bogging down.
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I agree, but doing donuts in the snow is a little weird with the 4eat unless you put it in 1 or 2. Also if you do get a little stuck you can just keep your foot down on the gas without worrying too much about bogging down.
I would not know, I'm not allowed to play in her car

It's really weird in my Outback, it has a locking diff on it!!! (Meaning: Centre differential is wasted and binds really bad, but I'm too cheap to fix it)

Besides, it's my winter car
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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But wouldn't you rather know what the road conditions are really like, than to have a sense of false confidence?
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
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But wouldn't you rather know what the road conditions are really like, than to have a sense of false confidence?
I dunno, I'd rather have Hodges have a false sense of security then watch him fall on his *** when he gets out of the car....
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Old 04-22-2008, 06:27 PM   #15 (permalink)
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But wouldn't you rather know what the road conditions are really like, than to have a sense of false confidence?
Never really feel unstable in her car, but I have stuffed mine several times due to over confidence in less than stellar conditions
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