Subaru’s Switch to CVT: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Continuously Variable Transmission

Subaru is known for its advanced engineering and innovative technology, and one of its most significant advancements in recent years has been the transition to Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) in many of its vehicles. In this article, we will delve into the timeline of Subaru’s shift to CVT, the advantages and disadvantages of this technology, and how it compares to other transmission types.

The Timeline of Subaru’s CVT Introduction

Subaru first began introducing CVT in some of its models around 2010, with the 2010 Legacy and Outback being the first to receive the new transmission. Over the next few years, Subaru expanded the use of CVT to other models, culminating in the complete replacement of traditional automatic transmissions with CVT in all new Subaru vehicles by 2015.

Subaru’s CVT technology is one of the most advanced in the industry, boasting features like hill descent control and paddle shifters for drivers who prefer a more manual feel. This transition has helped to improve fuel efficiency and performance in Subaru vehicles, making them more attractive to eco-conscious drivers.

The Benefits of CVT

CVT offers several advantages over traditional automatic and manual transmissions, including smoother driving and improved fuel efficiency. Because CVT allows for an infinite number of gear ratios, it can help achieve better fuel economy by keeping the engine operating at its most efficient RPMs.

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Another benefit of CVT is the smoothness of the driving experience. The lack of shifting gears means that there are no jolts or jerks when accelerating or decelerating. This provides a more comfortable and enjoyable driving experience, especially for those on longer road trips.

The Drawbacks of CVT

While CVT has many benefits, it also has some drawbacks. CVT transmissions can struggle to provide the same level of acceleration as traditional automatic or manual transmissions, as they rely on the vehicle’s computer system to determine when to shift gears.

Another potential issue with CVT is the reliability of the transmission. While modern CVTs are designed to be durable and reliable, some drivers have reported issues with their transmissions, including excessive noise or difficulty shifting. However, Subaru’s CVTs have generally been well-regarded for their reliability and durability, thanks in part to advanced engineering and materials.

CVT vs Other Transmission Types

Compared to other transmission types, CVT offers several unique advantages and drawbacks. For example, traditional manual transmissions can provide a more engaging driving experience for those who enjoy shifting gears themselves. However, manual transmissions can also be less fuel-efficient than CVTs, as they may not always keep the engine operating at its most efficient RPMs.

Similarly, traditional automatic transmissions can provide smoother acceleration than CVT, but they may be more prone to wear and tear over time due to their complex mechanical components.


Q: Is CVT expensive to repair if something goes wrong?

A: Repair costs for CVT transmissions can vary depending on the specific issue, but they are generally on par with or slightly more expensive than repairs for traditional automatic transmissions.

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Q: Which Subaru models use CVT?

A: As of 2021, all models in the Subaru lineup feature a CVT transmission, including the Impreza, Legacy, Outback, Forester, Ascent, and Crosstrek.

Q: Is CVT better than manual transmission?

A: This depends on personal preference and driving habits. While manual transmissions offer a more engaging driving experience, CVT can provide better fuel efficiency and a smoother, more comfortable driving experience overall.

Final Thoughts

Subaru’s switch to CVT technology has been a significant step forward for the brand, helping to improve fuel efficiency and provide a more comfortable driving experience for drivers. While there are some potential downsides to CVT, Subaru’s advanced engineering has helped to make their CVT transmissions some of the most reliable and durable in the industry.

Whether you’re in the market for a new Subaru vehicle or just curious about the evolution of automotive technology, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of CVT can be valuable information to have.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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