When Did Subaru Start Using CVTs on Outbacks? A Look into the Technical Advancements and Benefits of this Transmission Type

If you’re a car enthusiast or Subaru owner interested in the Outback model, you might be curious about when Subaru started using CVTs on their vehicles. In this article, we’ll explore the history of Subaru Outbacks, the benefits of using CVTs in cars, and the timeline of when Subaru started using CVTs in their Outback models.

A Brief History of Subaru Outbacks

The Subaru Outback is a crossover SUV that was first introduced in 1994 as a trim package for the Legacy wagon. Since then, it has become one of the most popular Subaru models on the market. The Outback has gone through several generations since its inception, with each model featuring various upgrades and technological advancements.

Benefits of Using CVTs in Cars

Before diving into the timeline of when Subaru started using CVTs in the Outback, let’s take a look at why this transmission type is desirable in cars. Unlike conventional automatic and manual transmissions, CVTs offer a smoother driving experience by providing an infinite number of gear ratios. This means that the car’s engine can always operate at its most efficient point for any given speed, resulting in better fuel economy.

Additionally, CVTs are lighter and more compact than other transmission types, which can help improve the overall performance of a vehicle. They also provide a more consistent power delivery, which can be beneficial for drivers who frequently encounter changing road conditions.

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Subaru Outbacks and CVTs: A Timeline

Subaru first introduced CVTs to their lineup in 2010 with the Legacy and the Outback. However, these early CVTs were met with mixed reviews due to their loud and whiny operation. Subaru continued to refine the design of their CVTs, and by 2015, they had become a staple feature of all Subaru Outback models.

The 2015 Outback featured a Lineartronic CVT, which was quieter and smoother than previous models. It also helped improve the car’s fuel economy, allowing drivers to achieve up to 33 miles per gallon on the highway. The 2015 Outback also saw a number of other upgrades, including a revised suspension system and improved infotainment options.

Subaru continued to make improvements to their CVTs in subsequent Outback models. For example, the 2021 Outback features an updated Lineartronic CVT that offers eight pre-programmed gear ratios for better acceleration and performance. It also features a manual mode for drivers who prefer a more engaging driving experience.

Comparison of Outback Models with and without CVTs

It’s worth noting that not all Subaru Outback models come equipped with CVTs. For example, the 2009 Outback featured a conventional four-speed automatic transmission, while the 2010 Outback offered both a six-speed manual and a CVT. If you’re in the market for an Outback and want to ensure you get a model with a CVT, be sure to do your research and check the vehicle’s specifications.

Impact of Using CVTs on Fuel Economy and Overall Performance

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main benefits of using a CVT in a car is the improvement in fuel economy. The Outback’s CVT has helped it achieve impressive fuel economy ratings, with models ranging from 26 to 33 miles per gallon on the highway. Additionally, the use of a CVT has helped improve the car’s overall performance by providing a smoother, more efficient drive.

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However, some critics argue that CVTs can make a car feel sluggish or unresponsive, particularly when accelerating. Additionally, the use of a CVT can increase the cost of a car, which may be a downside for some buyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does CVT stand for?
A: CVT stands for continuously variable transmission.

Q: Are CVTs reliable?
A: Generally speaking, CVTs are considered to be reliable. However, like any other component in a car, they may require maintenance or repairs over time.

Q: Can you still shift gears with a CVT?
A: Yes, some CVTs offer manual modes that allow drivers to simulate shifting gears. However, these modes are not true manual transmissions and operate differently than conventional manual transmissions.


Subaru started using CVTs in their Outback models in 2010, with early models receiving mixed reviews due to their loud and whiny operation. However, over time, Subaru refined their CVTs to make them quieter, smoother, and more efficient. Today, the Outback features an updated Lineartronic CVT that helps improve the car’s fuel economy and overall performance. If you’re in the market for an Outback, be sure to consider getting a model with a CVT for a smoother, more efficient driving experience.

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Peter Banks

With years of experience as a professional mechanic and Subaru specialist, Peter is one of the most respected members of our team. He's written several articles on Subaru maintenance and repair, and his advice and tips are always practical and helpful. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes.

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