The CVT: Learn it and Love it - Page 5 - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #61 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Manual transmission devotees are perfect examples of our human propensity to become part of a process. Toolmaking and their use defines us. It's in our DNA. From paddling a canoe or rowing through gears, to hunting with a bow and arrow or hang gliding, using ourselves as part of a mechanical process enables us to do the otherwise impossible.

Riding motorcycles is an example of an ultimate integration with a machine, and while less so bicycling, too. They often become addictive. Cars and our need to drive them fuel international economies. But it doesn't stop there. We are forever, one way or another, always serving as part of some mechanical operation in which we play a functional part. Example; this keyboard.

Most of us wanted to drive long before we were able or authorized. It was a magic carpet. The clumsiness didn't last long, and soon our mechanical feet became our own. We went places and saw and did things we could never have done without our cars. Along the way, driving for some became more than a means to an end. For some it was the act itself that satisfied, inwardly sipping the pleasure of driving in the day to day process of life. The more integrated into the machine, the more the pleasure. DNA.

But that does not describe all who drive. Some go "there" and move on. Some never understand, and have always used vehicles for nothing more than transportation devices. For them, the less required of them to use their cars the better. Most, however, one way or another, to one degree or another, appreciate and enjoy their cars beyond their appliance function. It is still, after all, a magic carpet whether we view it that way or not.

Moving forward, although the evolution of the human takes eons, the machine is rapidly becoming something more than a mere collection of inanimate parts. They have a growing intelligence, and abilities that transcend their human-enabled functioning. They are now better than we could ever make them using ourselves alone to enable them. People will continue to enjoy riding horses, motorcycles, and bicycles. People will continue to eschew the mobile phone and computers. Fireplaces and wood stoves will never totally disappear. It is natural to hang onto the perceived stability of the past. Intelligent machines, however, are here to stay, improving our lives every day. The microwave convection oven is a modern marvel taken for granted. Soon, so will be the CVT.

Eyesight and VDC are saving lives. AWD, Traction Control, and all the rest are giving our vehicles important and often life-saving abilities that we simply cannot replicate as humans, regardless of how strongly our ego insists. The CVT is not just a transmission, but an extension of the engine, enabled by computers, and integrated into the vehicle as a whole that is vastly superior to yesteryear's human-rowed counterpart. We can influence the operation, as mjsub points out, but it's a better horse in the traces than most imagined possible. A driver no longer is required to function as a machine part. Limited mental resources can be allocated to better uses. It is not a relinquishing of control, it is the delegation of control to a better device so we can devote our human oversight to a wider perspective.

The world of yesteryear that I grew up in, where automobiles still had running boards and the highways were open thoroughfares individuals could own, have given way to moving parking lots where our individual freedoms have been subverted. One careless act by anyone around us can kill us. No amount of horsepower or performance capacity will enable a single digit more on the speedometer. The spreading gridlock coupled with the caprice of nature and luck has taken the act of drivng to levels of seriousness as never before. We need all the help we can get. Subaru designs vehicles toward that end, and the CVT plays a part. Complementing the overall array, with the CVT comes computer-enabled mechanical enhancements to safety unavailable with the anacronistic manual transmission. Just the way it is, moving forward.

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post #62 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-20-2013, 08:23 AM Thread Starter
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I am a manual owner with over 40 years of driving and have an 07 SG Forester XT manual with 246,000km and a 13 Mk7 Golf 90 TSI manual with 23,000km. The only two CVT cars I've driven are a Mitsubishi Lancer and a Subaru XV, both gutless 2L cars that my supposedly less powerful Golf would eat for breakfast (that's turbo torque for you) and with refinement, driving dynamics and quality build and materials. However, while being impressed with the smoothness of the CVT's they both still exhibited the same horrible characteristic of every torque converter automatic I've ever driven and hated - that surging excess rev effect when you put you foot down. And the CVT's were probably even worse. I guess I just really like that connected feeling that a manual gives and the enjoyment I get from the interactive play between the clutch and gearbox/change. When you get a good one (like the Forester) or an unbelievably brilliant one (like the Golf) then it makes any auto/CVT just so boring, suited for those who want smooth transport with less driver input. but I guess that's what most people want judging by sales here in Australia and in America. Thank god we still have European manufacturers and drivers.
Intrigued, I used Google Earth to "explore" Toowoomba... if I lived there I'd have an MT, too. It appears easy to escape the confines of a city whenever you want, and drive where you can see open spaces.

Of the places on Earth that I'd like to see, Australia has always been at the top of my list. As a motorcyclist, I read with eyes glued to the words of stories about individual motorcyclist's trips across the continent. Scary, but thrilling. Of the few Australian people I've met, they all seemed aware of their fortune to be native there.

I've only driven one other CVT besides Subaru's, and didn't like it. But someone I trusted assured me the Subaru CVT was different and I took the chance with the '14 FXT... he was right, it is an incredible transmission. Then we got the '14 2.5i for my wife and it, too, is an excellent "automatic" transmission. The FXT CVT goes beyond "just an automatic transmission."

When I lived in New England I always had manuals, thirty years with a few exceptions for family cars. But MY car was always MT. But then, when I lived there, there were open spaces to drive, too. And I drove a lot on long trips across many states. All was good. When I moved to WV things changed. It is nothing but hills and mountains, plus where I live city traffic is everywhere and unavoidable. Soon I found using the manual a burden, and had a clutch fail for the first time in my life. When it was repaired I knew my MT days were over.

After twenty one years of AT Subarus I got my '11 WRX... then traded that compromise for an '11 STi and discovered what a good MT felt like. I could have lived happily with it forever I think, but for the EJ motor, which I didn't trust anymore. This FXT's CVT, if one has to have an automatic transmission, is a more than worthy replacement. It handles these mountains better than any MT I've ever owned. With the FXT's turbo and HDCVT the mountains are made virtually invisible... there is no sign from the vehicle they are there. In the city's stoplighted confines, of course, the CVT is a joy, where the STi's slick 6MT could only growl at being teased constantly.

I guess I'm saying there are different tools for different jobs, and I've found this '14 FXT an unparalleled one for handling where I live, as a whole. But if I lived where you do, I'd have, and keep, a manual for sure.

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post #63 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-20-2013, 01:07 PM
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When I moved to WV things changed. It is nothing but hills and mountains,
It's not ALL hills and mountains. You forgot the 4 square blocks of flat land around and including Town Center Mall.

I was born in Princeton and lived for three years in Charleston as an adult and four more in Beckley. I feel your flat land-loving pain.

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post #64 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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It's not ALL hills and mountains. You forgot the 4 square blocks of flat land around and including Town Center Mall.

I was born in Princeton and lived for three years in Charleston as an adult and four more in Beckley. I feel your flat land-loving pain.
It wasn't the Charleston area that initially got me tired of MT, although it finished it. It was going to see the festival of lights at Oblebay Park in Wheeling. I'll never forget that agonizing crawl and the toll it took on my legs and the car. Hours trapped in an endless line that moved a few feet, then stopped so people could appreciate the lights. If you've been there you know Oglebay isn't flat. Torture.

By my '11 WRX and STi I was ready to play with MT again, and the STi was indeed a pleasure to drive. It was, again, too much car for here, however, the same conclusion I'd come to with my much-modded LGT. Whatever street "action" that was present ten years ago is now gone. The traffic precludes using muscle even if you have it, and an overabundance of eager LEOs are everywhere. Most of our driving was and continues to be in the Foresters, which I've learned to enjoy more than I thought I would.

The '14 FXT has changed the equation entirely, relative to here in the hills or anywhere else for that matter. To it it's all the same. No muss no fuss, I could care less about the stoplights on steep inclines, hills and mountains big and small are equally effortless for the vehicle, and for me. And for my wife as well... with whom I can have a relationship again while driving, where before it was all about me and the car. Music is again possible... my "boxer rumble" serenade preempted my extensive library before, but the FXT's quiet interior allows both conversation and music now at the same time.

The CVT will likely be my choice in any future Subaru (of course )... even if it's in, say, a WRX with an upgraded FA20DIT . It, and the FA have proven to be a combination I like more than anything before them. The past year has been a year of learning, and the first in my life without a driver's car and an exhaust note of choice. Were it not for what the CVT has brought to my motoring I'd have perished of boredom. Instead it has opened the door to new possibilities.
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post #65 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 02:44 PM
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My opinion is that CVT is superior to a regular automatic, but not superior to a manual. Manual will truly let you do anything that you want to, whether you want to drive in high gear and destroy your rod bearings or not. With that control comes responsibility. I drove a Chevy Volt CVT awhile back and it was smooth, but very odd to drive. It would take a bit to get used to.
+1 I had a DSG 6 speed automated manual in my previous car and thought it was great, but longed for the 6 speed manual that was available and really wanted my next vehicle to have a manual transmission. The DSG was an expensive transmission to fix/replace and can't help but wonder if the cvt will be an unholy nightmare when it comes time to fix/replace once it is out of warranty period. I don't find too many people writing about their bad experiences with Subaru's manual transmission and know that once out of warranty period, I'll be fine which to me makes more sense if this is to be a long term vehicle for me. my .02
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post #66 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 02:58 PM
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It wasn't the Charleston area that initially got me tired of MT, although it finished it. It was going to see the festival of lights at Oblebay Park in Wheeling. I'll never forget that agonizing crawl and the toll it took on my legs and the car. Hours trapped in an endless line that moved a few feet, then stopped so people could appreciate the lights. If you've been there you know Oglebay isn't flat. Torture.
Been there a few times, but never for the light festival. I love my native state, but going back as an adult (I left when I was a little kid) convinced me that I really am a flatlander at heart. 16 years in Texas cured me of loving mountains, except to look at.

I've never driven the new CVT, but it sure does sound interesting.

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post #67 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 04:06 PM
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Intrigued, I used Google Earth to "explore" Toowoomba... if I lived there I'd have an MT, too. It appears easy to escape the confines of a city whenever you want, and drive where you can see open spaces.

Of the places on Earth that I'd like to see, Australia has always been at the top of my list. As a motorcyclist, I read with eyes glued to the words of stories about individual motorcyclist's trips across the continent. Scary, but thrilling. Of the few Australian people I've met, they all seemed aware of their fortune to be native there.
You must visit sometime. I have American friends who came to visit or work and won't leave. They are now Aussies themselves. I guess we are all a bit biased about where we live but Australians are well travelled people who you are likely to find in the most obscure places on Earth either as tourists or working. However when they return home they are nearly always blown away by the unique environment and happy, welcoming, casual way of life. It's not called the lucky country for nothing. New Zealanders feel the same way about their God Zone (God's own). Part of it is being one of only a relatively small population (23 million) competing in a big world where I guess we have to prove ourselves. I saw some statistics the other day which said Australians have the highest life expectancy of any country, one of the top couple of standards of living in the world and the median wealth of an Aussie is now $400,000 (compared to a US citizen of $65,000). Yet we still whinge & whine and are never happy.

Another bias is that I reckon I live in the best city in Australia in one of the best locations (although there will be plenty of Aussies out there who would think differently). In a city of 100,000 I'm 2 hours of great driving roads away from some of the best beaches you could ever surf at, don't have to worry about traffic jams and can always find a new and interesting drive. Wish I was a bit closer to snow and skiing in winter though.

I take your word for it about the CVT in the Forester XT too as here in Australian reports the general conclusion is it's the best CVT transmission yet. Sounds like what I need when I'm extra old and have lost interest in the fun & feedback of moving a clutch & gearstick myself. I hope it is as durable as my XT manual which is still on its original clutch at 247,000km. It feels like new still & I have been lucky enough to get a Subaru gearbox that has never suffered from that lockout thing many of them get trying to select reverse gear. It and the Golf are the only manual cars I've had that don't get affected by it at some time.

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post #68 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-21-2013, 05:38 PM
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I absolutely love the CVT in the Forrester....blows me away how it seems to amplify the torque and throttle response of what should be a underpowered 2.5 L.........For crazy icy conditions it is super smooth and seems to find traction when there is none to find....I believe the linear smooth power delivery allows it to hook up better then a traditional transmission would.....the lack of shift points means there is no spikes in the acceleration curve where a traditional transmission would engage the next gear.....

Before we got this car I had read all the horror stories about CT systems being lifeless and dull and I just can't see how that could be said about the unit they used in my Forrester...After driving it for 6000 miles I would buy a new STI with the CVT in a heartbeat.... if this CVT can make my 2.5 feel as peppy as it does I can only imagine what its going to do in a 300 plus HP car.....It would insane.....I would imagine the 0-30 MPH acceleration would eyeball popping LOL.....

So my vote is love it.....I dont see what any of the griping is about as I think this CVT is ridiculously good ..
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post #69 of 319 (permalink) Old 12-22-2013, 09:13 AM
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thanks - go Mountaineers!
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post #70 of 319 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 12:13 PM
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How do you think the durability/reliability will be for the Subie CVT? I guess we need another 3-5 years time.

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post #71 of 319 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 12:28 PM
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This design has been out for what, 3-4 years? So far, so good.
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post #72 of 319 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 01:05 PM
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post #73 of 319 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 01:26 PM
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After nearly a thousand miles on my 14' XT touring I love the CVT. In "I" mode it is a fluid and smooth experience which makes the XT "feel" like a highway eating touring car. In S (and S manual) the (simulated) shifts are quick and assertive giving me a more "in touch" feeling that makes getting around on dirt and in traffic more pleasurable. Finally the S# mode (both simulated Auto and in Manual) is a joy on my favorite back roads.

The shear versatility of the CVT makes it a win in my book.

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post #74 of 319 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 02:26 PM
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Not our imagination...........

Quote:
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It goes without saying that no one is unsympathetic to a fellow Forester owner's discontent. However, unless I misread your total posts you have yet to pursue your grievance with your dealer. That is a better venue to seek answers ... than continue to vent and pollute other threads. Maybe start your own thread so that you could find more birds of a feather? Here, you are obviously in a significant minority, an owner with a problem that should be presented to a dealer's expertise instead of looking for a consensus where one does not exist. The Subaru CVT, in general, is a superb transmission, and the overwhelming opinion of this forum's ownership is pleased to not only drive one, but happy to know that it is recognized nationally as well, as winner of the SUV of The Year award.

The Subaru CVT, for me and many others, has ushered in a new era, one of extremely fluent driving characteristics. On top of that driving pleasure is the most significant increase in gas mileage I've personally ever experienced. All from a relative huge vehicle with enormous versatility. Do I ever experience a less than silken accelerative event, especially when cold? Yes, I do. But I understand a little where that is coming from, and after driving vehicles for more than, considerably more than, fifty years, in a large array of vehicles, these Foresters provide the best driving experience, with the most perfectly smooth flow of engine power I've ever known.

It is in view of that fact that I suggest you wait no longer to have your Forester's operation attended to by qualified Subaru personnel. You should be, at the least, as happy with your vehicle as I, and most others, are.

As I have read your input, as well as others, there is one question no one has answered unasked, nor has anyone asked it as far as I can tell: what gasoline do you use?

The answer to this, and the why of the question, will be the subject of my next post.
I am experiencing the exact same issues with the CVT as Eddie Joe with my
2014 2.5 CVT. I'm bringing it back to the dealer for that issue as well as intermittant dash rattles. And neither are my imagination, as others who drive my Forester report the same issues...............
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post #75 of 319 (permalink) Old 01-14-2014, 08:47 PM
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How does NA cvt handles roads which requires engine brake?
With MT , from Bodega bay to salt point SP on highway 1, 3rd gear can handle most (90%?)of the curve without brake. I know cvt has some kind of grade logic , but how effective is it?
It does sense and is programmed to hold the higher RPM's when going down grades usually up to like 3k, but a lot of times it is not as much as you'd like and you have to use more braking than ideal. This is where the paddle shifters and simulated gears come in quite handy. You can quickly grab a gear or two lower whenever, without having to move the console shifter to manual mode, and it will hold that simulated gear, engine braking until the the road angle levels and you use the accelerator pedal again. It will then switch back to auto/drive mode.

I find the paddle shifting also nice sometimes if I'm feeling like taking and accelerating out of a turn quickly where you can grab a couple lower gears to keep the RPM's higher through the turn and then up shift a couple as you accelerate out. The programming seems to sense what you are doing based on accelerator input and will hold the gears and higher RPM's until you let off the accelerator a bit.

Hope that makes sense, but either way I feel like the CVT and paddles are plenty effective at engine braking and simulated a manual. Maybe not quite as good as a manual, but definitely good enough for me. If anything I'd rather put more wear on the brakes anyway as they are more cheaply replaceable than the drivetrain later on if you are really winding it out constantly at higher RPM's for engine braking purposes.
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