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2019 White Forester, Replaced a 2009 Forester
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95 Posts
There are two things I like about the CVT transmissions. One, I live in the mountains and there are some straight sections where I can use cruise control. With the 2009 automatic I would have to take it out of cruise control at a few steep hills. With the 2016 and 2019 we can leave it in cruise control and go right over those hills without the motor going ballistic.
Two, gas mileage. We live 160 miles from San Jose, our old home. With the 2009's automatic we got roughly 28 miles to the gallon on a round trip. With the 2016 or 2019 anywhere from 30 to 33 MPH depending on traffic conditions.
Edit: Looks like I have already mentioned part One of this. Pardon me!
 

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2020 CBS Forester Sport
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248 Posts
The sheer number of people here who are like "my brand new Subaru is a lemon, therefore the brand is trash" blow me away. For your money you can't find much better overall quality, reliability, and features set.
 
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2020 Forester
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138 Posts
@Rorgaard
My previous vehicles not Subaru had the same thing people crying the blues, saying they are lemons and trashing the product. In my case I let it go in one ear and pick up speed out the other.
I agree with the value Subaru provides compared to Honda, Mazda and Toyota. Where I live a comparable vehicle with the same features were all $1,000's more than the Forester and Jeep was stupid pricing.
 

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2019 Ascent Touring (CWP)
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311 Posts
The sheer number of people here who are like "my brand new Subaru is a lemon, therefore the brand is trash" blow me away. For your money you can't find much better overall quality, reliability, and features set.
People complain loudly when they have issues; Folks who don't are out happily driving around instead of posting about their satisfaction. 'Nature of the beast...
 

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2020 CBS Forester Sport
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248 Posts
People complain loudly when they have issues; Folks who don't are out happily driving around instead of posting about their satisfaction. 'Nature of the beast...
Oh I get it, but there's a lot of posters to this forum who almost seem like they're advertising for other brands or just trying to poison the community. Remember the Kia bro a few months ago?
 

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I have a 22’ Forester Wilderness and it does the same herky jerky nonsense. The fake shifting in the torque converter is a nightmare. 17-20mph is like riding a bucking bronco. When coming to a stop, the engine jerks you forward at 5-10mph and then again when you stop. I can drive a manual smoother than this ridiculous POS. There has got to be a computer setting to take away the fake shifts. 300 miles in and it’s going right back to the dealer.
 

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2020 CBS Forester Sport
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248 Posts
You aren't even going to give it a break in period?

It's your money...
 

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2 Posts
I honestly just think I got a bad one. I haven’t revved the engine above 3000rpm and I’m only getting 17mpg. The engine breaking is nuts. It feels like it’s going to launch you through the windshield. My friend owns the dealership. We’re getting it worked out.
 

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2020 Forester
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I have a 22’ Forester Wilderness and it does the same herky jerky nonsense. The fake shifting in the torque converter is a nightmare. 17-20mph is like riding a bucking bronco. When coming to a stop, the engine jerks you forward at 5-10mph and then again when you stop. I can drive a manual smoother than this ridiculous POS. There has got to be a computer setting to take away the fake shifts. 300 miles in and it’s going right back to the dealer.
My 2020 experienced the same transmission roughness in the 15-25 MPH range, mainly when trying to gently vary my speeds in neighborhoods or with changing traffic situations. If you drive aggressively, you will not notice the stumbling torque converter/transmission performance. But driving with a light foot...oh man... I cannot believe engineers let this slide. The problem is the torque converter being programmed to lock up for fuel economy/EPA games, rather than allowing some torque converter "slip" to smooth out engine pulses and RPM variations.

I prefer a CVT if it works good, that being said, I just recently bought a 2021 Forester and find the following. When coming to a stop it will lock the torque converter and it gives a little jerk or whatever you want to call it. You can get the same action when at 40 or anywhere below when you let off or press on the gas pedal, instead of being smooth, it will give you that little jerk or whatever you want to call it. It happens in parking lots too and it can happen multiple times while driving through the parking lot or at lower speeds on back roads or neighborhoods and I hate it.

The car I traded for this one had a CVT and it did not do this so this is really noticeable to me. Subaru has had the CVT in the Forester a lot longer, since 2014 according to what I see and I don't know if the design does not allow for improving that or if it is beyond Subaru's ability or they just don't want to bother but it would be so much nicer if they could improve that. I am not sure if other people just don't notice it or it just does not bother them or if mine is worse than theirs or what but it makes me very unhappy and takes away from the ownership experience.
Subaru has the torque converter programmed to "lock up" too soon, and then it also unlocks too aggressively, most noticed when coasting to a stop on a smooth road surface. Allowing more torque converter "slip" would smooth out engine power pulses and provide better quality responses to throttle tip-in. In trying to meet fuel economy goals, engineers sacrificed driveline refinement.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT (prev 2001 2.0i auto); BMW X3; Tesla Y on backorder
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12 Posts
I've been towing an about 1,000 kg/2,200 lb boat for 8 years without issue... I regard CVTs as the best towing transmission as power delivery is never interrupted
Well, I'm an engineer of many decades, having owned 2001 Auto Forester, and now a 2015 CVT Forester. I have driven 2015 Forester very easily, never pushing it. But I did (just a few times) tow a 750kg (gross) 6ftx4ft box trailer. CVT oil is meant to not need changing for life of vehicle, but now my mechanic found lots of metal in CVT oil when investigating noise from front diff. I suspect that chain circulating on teeth (like bicycle chain) is INHERENTLY more prone to microscopic wear of metal surfaces and that microscopic metal then gets into bearings, esp at front diff. So Subaru should be advising people with CVT to never tow, never drive hard and change the CVT oil every 10k-km to avoid build up of metal in oil of CVT. Clearly the initial wear is not the problem - it is the circulation of the metal bits into the bearings and other moving parts. Perhaps affixing a supermagnet to outside of CVT might lessen recirculation of metal bits. Or better still, affix a supermagnet to the inside of bottom case of CVT.
 

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22 Forester Sport / 22 Rav Limited
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79 Posts
thats exactly how i felt when i was new car shopping recently. i stopped in at subie dead set on getting a 6spd crosstrek, but ended up test driving an outback onyx xt, and forester sport for the s&gs. i dunno if that was the right move or wrong move cause instantly the crosstrek dropped lower on the list. the outback felt and drove really nice, but it drove long if thag makes sense. like i mentioned prior i was super apprehensive of the whole cvt thing cause earlier in my automotive journey i had a murano and well...lets just say scarred for life lol. when i got into the forester my apprehensions was dropped. it drove really good, the cvt is super smooth. i dare say it drives better than my 22 rav limited, which is real 8spd auto trans. is the cvt perfect? i doubt it but it made me feel confident enough that im willing to give the cvt a go once again.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT (prev 2001 2.0i auto); BMW X3; Tesla Y on backorder
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12 Posts
1. CVTs generate ridiculous levels of irrational hatred amongst "car guys."
...
2. Subaru extended their CVT warranty, as far as I can tell, to help allay this rising tide of irrationality, not because there were actual issues beyond statistical norms. All transmissions of all types and from all manufacturers will exhibit occasional problems.
,,,
3. As YoGeorge points out, the best available source of statistical data for automotive reliability -- Consumer Reports -- has shown Foresters to exhibit very good to excellent transmission reliability in the years since the CVT was introduced.
I'm an engineer of many decades, with degrees from Usyd, VUW, Harvard & served as a Harvard Consultant to The White House, and I've owed Foresters for over twenty years.

Re the three paras cited above, let me say:
Re #1: I completely disagree that fears about CVTs are "irrational hatred". There are much higher failure rates in CVTs than in the prior automatic gearbox.
Re #2: Subaru USA extended warranty because of known real problems, not to "help allay this rising tide of irrationality".
Re #3: At time of reclark's writing, CVT had not been widely sold by Subaru for sufficient years to show up in reliability ratings.

For starters, a CVT has between 10x and 40x as much metal-to-metal micro-abrasion surface area as the four speed automatic gearbox that preceded CVT. The CVT chain is like heavier-duty bicycle chains, set-up six-across (bonded) to handle the torque. Just like a bicycle, steel teeth protrude up into those chains, on each expandable spindle. By comparison, the prior auto gearbox had just two sets (at any given time) of solid gears properly meshed, so just a few bands of 1-3mm-wide strips across teeth, where metal-to-metal meet. Motorcycle and bicycle chains work, because they are regularly oiled, and are not 'encased' in a gearbox, to recirculate the metal filings. The circulating metal filings are a killer for the bearings that are lubricated by that same gearbox oil. In my case, my 2015 Forester (MY15 2.5-litre CVT) has been driven gently but now has a noticeable whine from the front-diff portion of the CVT, at 128,000km - so under 100k miles but not covered by warranty. The metal filings given off by chain more acutely wear the bearings in the front diff (and elsewhere), rather than causing failure of the chain itself. So, in this way, there is a misdirection at play - the wear happens on the chain, but it is the bearings that fail. But the proof is the amount of metal in the gearbox oil! By comparison, my earlier 2001 Forester (MY01 2-litre Auto gearbox) still had nil transmission issues at 400,000km when I retired the vehicle to a farm, with the normal head gasket problem of overheating as water is gradually sucked into combustion chamber. But at this point, facing an A$6000 (US$4000) quote to rebuild gearbox, I'm seriously considering bringing the earlier Forester back into action, as the far more reliable vehicle.

Re the design basics of a CVT chain design, let me note:
A. No high-torque vehicles (eg heavy trucks) use a CVT, preferring fixed gears for reliability.
B. You will recall, Subaru never sought to get customers to request CVT, but instead, all of a sudden, customers found that the 'automatic' version of each model was in fact a 'forced switch' to CVT.
C. All the metal filings given off by the chain need to be promptly removed from the gearbox oil, by simply design changes, using a good filter or by super-magnet affixed to inside of gearbox filler cap.

Re Subaru's actions ought to have been:
D. Supply CVT transmission ONLY if asked by customer;
E. Don't buy a CVT if you life in a mountainous location;
F: Never tow using a CVT;
G: Change the gearbox oil every 20,000km;
H: Provide untimed warranty out to 120k miles for all.

So, the USP (unique selling point) for Subaru was RELIABLE AWD with HIGH RESALE values. With all the CVT not reliable or re-saleable after 100k miles, due to gearbox problems that are expensive to repair, Subaru has violated its own historic formula of making only small incremental changes, to not disrupt the reliability that won it a wide customer base. For over 20 years, I was a strong supporter of Forester, for providing reliable AWD and good value. Now the depreciation cost is up to 50cents/km based on its shorter expected life, and I would no longer recommend anyone to buy a Forester.
 

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2015 Forester2.5i Premium CVT
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I'm an engineer of many decades, with degrees from Usyd, VUW, Harvard & served as a Harvard Consultant to The White House, and I've owed Foresters for over twenty years.

Re the three paras cited above, let me say:
Re #1: I completely disagree that fears about CVTs are "irrational hatred". There are much higher failure rates in CVTs than in the prior automatic gearbox.
Re #2: Subaru USA extended warranty because of known real problems, not to "help allay this rising tide of irrationality".
Re #3: At time of reclark's writing, CVT had not been widely sold by Subaru for sufficient years to show up in reliability ratings.
#1 An assertion. Where is your data?
#2 What is your source for this? In years of discussion, no such fact has ever surfaced before.
#3 Subaru had been selling CVTs in the US for at least eight years at the time I wrote that.

I’m a big believer in the value of experience and expertise. Experience with a handful of personal cars, however, and expertise in tangentially related fields, no matter how prestigious you may believe them to be, may not extend as far as you might wish.

You are entitled to your opinion, of course, and you may even be more entitled to yours than many other are to theirs, but I saw nothing in your post to support a contention that Subaru CVTs are more statistically prone to failure than other passenger car transmissions. Only your argument for why they should be.

I again cite the only source of reliability data available to the public that I know of: Consumer Reports. They compile data on hundreds of thousands of individual vehicles, and compare their repair rates to other vehicles of the same model year. Subaru CVTs are shown to be generally as, or more, reliable than the transmissions of other cars in that data.

And I won’t ask “whose White House?” 😝
 

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2005 2.5X 4EAT 2017 2.5i Prem CVT
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911 Posts
A. No high-torque vehicles (eg heavy trucks) use a CVT, preferring fixed gears for reliability.
Seriously, how much is (insert marketing department of a Subaru competitor here, but most likely Kia) paying you to write this garbage?

Behold the New Holland T9-600. Most powerful CVT-equipped tractor on the market. Rated at 605 hp and 1875 ft/lbs (2540 Nm) of torque. Available with a CVT or a traditional semi-automatic "powershift". Of the ones I see for sale the split is about 50/50.
Wheel Tire Sky Cloud Land vehicle
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT (prev 2001 2.0i auto); BMW X3; Tesla Y on backorder
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12 Posts
You are entitled to your opinion.. Only your argument for why they [CVTs] should be... [more prone to wear]
And I won’t ask “whose White House?” 😝
Firstly, I served as a Harvard Consultant to The White House in Washington DC.
You claimed concerns about CVTs were "irrational" and you ask me for 'proof'. I've explained how there is a much larger metal-to-metal surface area to produce more micro-abrasion in a CVT, and readers can decide for themselves if that is cause for concern. But my proof is that my 2015 Forester transmission oil was 'full of fine metal'. Let's be clear, bearings are by design minimising metal-to-metal surfaces (hard little balls rolling in oil - ie not being 'dragged' across other metal), while chain links have (by design) large surfaces that are being 'dragged' across other metal surfaces. So chains work well in bicycles and up to motor-bikes, but are not enclosed and use oil that is made to 'shed' off chain. To enclose it in the gearbox was one issue, but to say that the gearbox oil did not need to be changed regularly was probably Subaru marketing overruling Subaru engineers. And Nissan Pathfinder changing away from CVT to go back to automatic fixed-gear transmissions does constitute 'proof' that at least one other auto maker discovered CVTs are not reliable over the longer term. I again say that CVTs should not be used for towing or hills, and that transmission oil needs to be changed regularly, as the microscopic metal shed by the many kilograms of chain mesh wearing against other pieces in the chain matrix cause the bearings to wear relatively quickly. A further part of my 'proof' is that the two third-party Subaru transmission specialists in my city of 5.5m each refuse to provide any warranty if the front-diff bearings are replaced in a Subaru CVT, as they know that the wear from the chain etc, as likely already affecting all other portions of the CVT mean that only a completely-rebuilt CVT will get even a one-year warranty. The cost of that is 30-40% of the present market value of the Subaru at under 100k miles. So the people who actually repair such Subaru transmissions will not put their name behind repairs, unless one pays to have all moving parts of the CVT replaced. Elsewhere in a car, if a particular bearing fails, an auto mechanic is prepared to replace that bearing, but that is not true when it comes to CVTs. Now, you could try to suggest to these transmission specialists that their fears of failure with CVTs is entirely 'irrational', but I suspect we should accept their position on not warrantying CVT work as meaning what it does mean.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i CVT (prev 2001 2.0i auto); BMW X3; Tesla Y on backorder
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12 Posts
Seriously, how much is (insert marketing department of a Subaru competitor here, but most likely Kia) paying you to write this garbage?
You've shamefully opted to play the man, not the ball. You can put forward counter-arguments, but not simply claim that I must be biassed. For the record, I am not paid by, and have no association whatsoever with any competitor to Subaru. I did buy an early Prius to learn more by experimentation. On the 'Prius Mk1 Owners Group' on Yahoo forums, I made a point of how unhelpful Toyota had been to keeping the earlier Prius on the road, by failing to provide replacement battery packs, and other proprietary approaches to 'black box' electronic control systems. In the end I built and ran a replacement LiPo battery pack to replace the original NiMH factory battery pack. For full disclosure, my wife has a Tesla Y on backorder.

I said that large trucks don't use CVT, and you've found one item of farm equipment that is using a CVT. That is what any statistician would call 'an outlier'. And is the New Holland CVT using a chain, like Subaru, or some other method? If also using chain, an interesting question is how often New Holland suggests that the CVT transmission oil be changed. Without knowing the answer, I feel certain that it is much more frequently than Subaru recommended changing oil in its CVTs. But getting access to the transmission oil in heavy farm equipment is much easier than with cars/SUVs.

Instead of wasting your time trying to convince me to change my mind on CVTs, why not go to the makers of 'prime movers' for semis plying the highways of the world, to ask why all of them stay with fixed gear ratios?

The truth is that, in Subaru engineering labs, many engineers 'know' that way too much fine metal particles are being shed into the CVT oil, but no-one has released the data, nor has anyone had the courage to explain to marketing and company management that a mistake was made, and CVT owners around the world need to be implored to change their CVT oil far more frequently. The Japanese may do design OK, but they tend to 'cover up' for fear of being shown to have embarrassed senior managers, which is why the Fukushima disaster happened, as many engineers knew that it was crazy to place the standby generators outside the Tsunami seawall, but none of them ever spoke up. Lessons abound!
 

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2005 2.5X 4EAT 2017 2.5i Prem CVT
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Google "Harvard Consultant" and the only thing that consistently comes up is a dental clinic in Qatar.
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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@GraemeHarrison

For what it’s worth…

With your background, you should be well aware of the significant difference between anecdotal (a single or limited experiences)) evidence .vs. statistical evidence.

So, unless you have some insight into hard statistical evidence, it only boils down to opinion… which may be correct…or not. If you can’t produce the numbers, it really doesn’t prove anything. I don’t have those figures myself, but then again, I’m not claiming Subaru CVTs are inferior.

And, just for the record…another tractor manufacturer using CVTs.

 
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