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I'm in the market for a new vehicle and am looking at the 2021 Forester, as I was looking at the specs I noticed that it has a CVT. This set off alarms in my head because a buddy of mine just had one go in his Nissan at 56000 miles. Doing some research showed the Nissan has known for years that there tranny is only good for around 60000, they know it but aren't willing to do anything to fix it. I also see that Subaru had it's own issues with the CVT but at least they extended the warranties of the effected vehicles. I'm just wondering if there have been any issues with Suburu's CVT in the latest models?
I was in the same boat, thinking about CVTs. Had never driven one, but wasn't a fan. My 2010 Santa Fe had a 6 speed auto. My 2021 Forester was the first one I had driven. My test drive was 40 miles and I was sold. I thought if you didn't know it was a CVT you wouldn't know from the way it behaved. Now almost 4000 miles in I have found it to be peppy and economical. My Forester comes close to matching the mpg of my 2013 Honda Fit manual. Pleased to read Slothman's reply citing the robust Subaru CVT.
 

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2019 White Forester, Replaced a 2009 Forester
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72 Posts
I agree with those positive about CVTs. "I love driving different vehicles and learning their differences." YoGeorge
We live in the mountains, but when we drive to the San Jose, CA, we cross a long area of flat land. However, there is a section of two very steep hills that drove my 2009 four speed into 4500 rpms in cruise control. (I turned it off as soon as I realized that this would happen, actually I caught it at 4500 as I don't know what it actually would have reached.) With my wife's 2016 and my 2019 the CVT just goes up and down those same hills in cruise control without revving higher than 3500.
 

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2015 Forester
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One more note. Before I bought mine, I did some research. Subaru introduced a CVT in the U.S. in the early 1980's which had lots of problems and was a disaster. It gave CVT's a bad name. Instead of completely giving up, they pulled them from this market, went back to Japan and worked on it. From what I could find, most other manufacturers had been (in 2014) working on CVT's for maybe 10 years, while Subaru had been working on them for about 30.
 

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2019 White Forester, Replaced a 2009 Forester
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Actually the CVT was invented in 1919 in the Netherlands but needed improving and didn't see any action until 1958 in the Netherlands at DAF trucking. One guy wanted a small car, as Europe has small streets, so he made one and debuted it at the Amsterdam Motor Show on February 7, 1958. With its 590 cc two cyclinder and Variomatic (CVT) transmission. With a top speed of 62 miles per hour it didn't take off but the transmission was so good that it was put in race cars that did well. DAF cars turn 60
I saw them parked along the AutoBahns in Germany in the late 60's, their aircooled engines needed more air. So, I would occasionally see one stopped with the hood open to let the engine cool off, as I blasted by in my export Beetle with 54 horse power.
 

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I was in the same boat, thinking about CVTs. Had never driven one, but wasn't a fan. My 2010 Santa Fe had a 6 speed auto. My 2021 Forester was the first one I had driven. My test drive was 40 miles and I was sold. I thought if you didn't know it was a CVT you wouldn't know from the way it behaved.
That's because Subaru added simulated shift points so if your 2021 Forester is your first experience with a CVT, mission accomplished. That's what they were aiming for.

I've driven other CVTs and some have been pretty bad. It's not all irrational criticism either IMO / IME. A common issue was the "rubber band" feel which was worse in some models over others. ....or the endless higher revving without a shift. I still recall my last CVT experience in a Jeep Patriot rental which was absolutely horrible.

That said, not all CVTs are obviously created equal and with a few exceptions, they have really evolved in recent years.

As for the "natural" feeling of shifting through gears, I don't think it's hard to understand what people mean when using that term. Most folks have been driving around in manual and AT equipped cars for decades and the CVT is a relatively new thing in the mass market. It behaves differently than one might expect. ....what has been familiar to them for many years. The time has already come where most youths are likely more familiar with CVTs than they are with MTs.

Personally, I like the CVT in my wife's 2020 and I really don't mind the simulated shift points. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it has had an impact subconsciously on my judgement of it. There are still some CVT traits I notice but for the most part, it just works as expected when I accelerate to enter a freeway, pass and so on. .....it feels familiar or more natural.

My wife had a 4EAT equipped '08 Forester and while the transmission was a tank, it needed better programming and an extra gear IMO. If it were more refined in that respect, it would have been a more pleasant experience.

I still like traditional ATs and even MTs (in some cars). .....although I don't think they need to be race applications to get value from them. I also don't mind CVTs in cars like my wife's Forester. There's nothing dramatic about the driving experience in her car and most times I'm not even paying attention to what the transmission is doing. It's a good, comfortable, dependable commuter and travel car which is also capable in snow, off road, etc. It works in that role just fine.
 

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Personally I could care less how it “feels” in my Subaru as long as it’s reliable.
If I have a thirst for shifting or feeling gears Ill ride my KTM 1090.
But hey, thats me


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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2015 Forester
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I don't mind the lack of shift points, either. I was just saying most of us more experienced folks have them ingrained so it's kind of a subconscious thing, as Kean indicated. Now I'm not sure if I would like the fake shift points in a CVT. Haven't driven one yet, so can't say for sure. When my wife drove the loaner, she did say if felt different.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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The "shift points" in the newer CVTs aren't really newer - they're now just more pronounced.

On my 2014 SJ Forester, I can get "shift points" just by keeping my foot on the pedal and getting up in the revs... like if you want to get in front of a bunch of traffic at an intersection with a diminished lane count on the other side... or short highway onramps... But in normal driving - the CVT is just one smooth acceleration to my desired speed and there are no shift points you feel - but you will see fluctuations in the RPM on the tach and the CVT does what it's supposed to do - keep the engine in an optimal state of MPH vs MPG.
 

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I'm in the market for a new vehicle and am looking at the 2021 Forester, as I was looking at the specs I noticed that it has a CVT. This set off alarms in my head because a buddy of mine just had one go in his Nissan at 56000 miles. Doing some research showed the Nissan has known for years that there tranny is only good for around 60000, they know it but aren't willing to do anything to fix it. I also see that Subaru had it's own issues with the CVT but at least they extended the warranties of the effected vehicles. I'm just wondering if there have been any issues with Suburu's CVT in the latest models?
I've got a 2020 Forester and have done several long distance road trips with it. I'm not sure what it is called but the engine all too frequently jerks as if the engine is misfiring or the fuel filter is clogged. I think this usually happens on high speed uphill stretches. It feels worrisome but I've been told this is due to the CVT. Quite unnerving and worrisome.

Daniel
 

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.....never experienced that issue in my wife's 2020 on highway grades.
 

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Sounds concerning to me. I would try to pin it down and see if you can get some repeatability so you can show the dealer. Then have them test another the same way to see if it also does it if they say it's not an issue.
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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We've got 2 vehicles with CVT's, a '17 Foz with Eyesight, and an '18 Nissan Murano. Both transmissions have some awkward moments when doing the "stepped shifting" thing under relatively heavy throttle, but geared automatics also have weird moments with shifting (especially when you are on/off/on with throttle). But the CVT's never act like a plugged fuel filter nor do they "jerk" noticeably.

If you are getting this hesitation under smooth steady-state throttle uphill (or on cruise control), it sounds like something is wrong. If you (or the cruise control) are "punching" the throttle to get up a steep rise, more stuff might be happening. Is the tachometer doing anything weird?

If you can replicate this situation at will, take a mechanic from your dealer for a ride with you. If this seems to have come on suddenly, it could be a bad tank of gas or something...I would run through the existing tank and then refil the tank with some gas from a good station that pumps a lot of gas. Seek out Top Tier fuels and if you have been using a non top tier brand, maybe run a bottle of Techron additive through a tank of gas. (This is the same additive that Chevron uses in their top tier fuels.)
 

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2020 Forester, Convenience, CVT
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I've noticed a jerking on the highway a couple of times myself. Turns out it was me. With the cruise on, and giving it light throttle to go a little above the set point, when you stop giving it throttle the cruise slows down to the set speed. Lightly touching the throttle disengages the cruise, letting off engages, so it feels like the car is jerking. Happened when my wife was driving once too. Then we realized it was us. Maybe you have the same thing happening. Just a thought.
 

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2006 Forester
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FWIW:

My mechanic says that Nissan suggested never changing the ATF in its CVT. He says that in his experience those customers of his who have done regular 30K Mi ATF changes have never experienced CVT problems.
 

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FWIW:

My mechanic says that Nissan suggested never changing the ATF in its CVT. He says that in his experience those customers of his who have done regular 30K Mi ATF changes have never experienced CVT problems.
Maintenance per the manufacturer schedule is important. Do keep in mind that the Subaru manufactured CVTs are very different from the CVTs that are in Nissan's and others.
 

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I wish Subaru gave a software setup choice.
1: quickest, most economical, and smoothest (CVT mode)
2: fake shifting. (pretend geared transmission, deviates up and down from optimum power and fuel efficient rpm )
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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In a way - they do....

If you have an XT, then you have the shift paddles and you have the "S" and "I" functions on the steering wheel controls.

But either way, the CVT in at least the "first generation" of the SJ models (2014 - 2018) drive smoothly (no shifting) when you're not flooring the pedal... I can drive my 2014 non-XT model and if I keep the RPMs in the 2000 - 2500 range, I have no shift "points" going forward. But if I romp the go pedal and keep it pinned, I get shifts...
 

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2020 CBS Forester Sport
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I wish Subaru gave a software setup choice.
1: quickest, most economical, and smoothest (CVT mode)
2: fake shifting. (pretend geared transmission, deviates up and down from optimum power and fuel efficient rpm )
... That's exactly what Subaru did. You can put the vehicle in manual mode or activate manual shifting with the paddles on the fly, and adjust between sport and economy modes.
 

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In a way - they do....

If you have an XT, then you have the shift paddles and you have the "S" and "I" functions on the steering wheel controls.

But either way, the CVT in at least the "first generation" of the SJ models (2014 - 2018) drive smoothly (no shifting) when you're not flooring the pedal... I can drive my 2014 non-XT model and if I keep the RPMs in the 2000 - 2500 range, I have no shift "points" going forward. But if I romp the go pedal and keep it pinned, I get shifts...
Sorry for any confusion. I am not trying to engage manual mode on my 2015 XT's CVT. I am complaining about the absence of a fake shifting mode on the 2021 Foresters and Outback XT's I have driven.
 

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Sorry for any confusion. I am not trying to engage manual mode on my 2015 XT's CVT. I am complaining about the absence of a fake shifting mode on the 2021 Foresters and Outback XT's I have driven.
But... It's there... Just slap the shifter over.
 
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