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.