'21 ISM Crosstrek Limited
Smart. When in auto mode the TCU/ECU will always try for the lowest RPM, increasing the likelihood the engine will experience knock. Due to the FA's sophisticated knock detection it will preempt danger and lower the timing... and you will notice that as a "hesitation."Most of my issues with surging have been in hot weather while going up steel inclines while having lots of passenger weight in the car 1000 lbs.
The car will perform admirably, and then the surging symptoms pop up and will persist for a few days.
One thing I have learned, is that switching my Forester XT to manual mode (tapping the stick to the left while in drive) will completely make the surging go away. I have accepted that this is the only safe way to go up a steep hill without having to deal with surging or a loss of power.
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With 93 octane that wouldn't happen.
Keep doing your manual mode thing. You can "outthink" the ECU/TCU and keep the engine in an RPM range that is high enough to match you load, eliminating (most or all) of the timing corrections.