Very difficult to answer unless someone has managed to ride in scores of
different vehicles, preferably carrying a sound meter. I'm sure even among
Subaru models there will variations. From my own experience my 2018 Outback
3.6R Touring is admirably quiet. Subaru has been making incremental
improvements in sound control over the last decade with more sound
absorbent materials, better seals, better aerodynamic, and thicker glass.
There are any number of articles searchable online about noise and various
Subaru vehicles of various ages. Why not just go and take a test drive to
see what _you_ think?
Test drives are often too short and don't encounter all the roads you
will drive upon. With a totally new vehicle, you may not recognize some
sounds that will pester you later, like how much wind noise the door
mirrors generate at highway speeds after driving for 10 minutes, or
more, so you can tell from where the noise originates.
Rather than a test drive, ask if you can "rent" the car for week. We've
done that with Subaru dealers. They'll take down all the same info as a
rental agency; however, we didn't have to put anything down. Test
drives lasting only maybe an hour don't show as much interest as does
renting or getting a loaner for a week. They know you're interested in
their brand and perhaps a model, or two. We didn't use the car for
driving to and from work but just during the mid-days or evenings to run
errands. We would make up errands to drive it twice per day, plus we
wanted to be driving outside of rush hour so we could focus on the car
rather than on the traffic. We would change up who would drive and who
would be the passenger (in the front and rear seats).
I had an '07 six-cylinder Accord. Engine and tire noise was minimal but
wind noise at highway speed was disappointing- and about the only thing
I disliked about the car. I recall Consumer Reports dinged them for that
My wife has a '17 Forester that's pretty quiet for an SUV. She's very
happy with it.
But I don't like driving a CVT which knocked Subaru off the prospect
list for my new ride. The CVT is becoming much more prevalent among many
manufacturers. I'm thinking I may end up needing to back to a stick shift;-)
The fastest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
I had a Ford Escape as a rental last fall. Hated the CVT. Reminded me
a bit of an elastic band when you started from a stop. The engine
would begin to rev and after a bit the car would start to move.
Once you were rolling, I had nothing bad to say about the CVT. But I
hated it around town with all the stop and go.
I seem to recall that Subaru got good marks for their implementation
of the CVT, so perhaps I'd feel more charitable towards one of their
cars with that transmission. The old Imprezza just keeps trucking on,
so unless I get a Subie as a rental, I'm not likely to try one out for
a while yet.
Mentioned that my brother bought same Forester as mine. I asked him how
he liked the CVT and he did not know what I was talking about. He had
worked for Chevy dealers all his life in service and sales and should
know cars but this got by him, so I assume he had noticed no difference
from the Outback he had traded for it.
You sure you were not driving in the stop-start driving mode? When the
car stops (zero or very low RPM, your foot on the brake, no wheel
rotation), the engine is turned off. Yep, that's right, I'm not making
this up -- the engine goes OFF at a stop. If you idle long enough at
the stop, the engine periodically comes back on to recharge the battery
and then the engine goes off again. At really long red lights, the
engine might restart several times to prevent the battery from getting
too weak. When you release the brake and start to accelerate from a
stop, there is a lag until the engine restarts before you'll have power
to move. Your foot comes off the brake pedal, the transmission gets
re-engaged, and the engine has to rev up.
Some cities now mandate this driving mode to reduce pollution. Great
for mileage but not for responsiveness from a stop and I'm not sure that
all that stopping and starting of the engine has no additional wear on
the engine. How can a starter used twice a day, on average, (start at
home to go to work, start at work to go home) not wear and break faster
when it has to also restart the car after every red light going green?
I also got a Ford Escape on my last vacation. Because I was not used to
the stop-start mode, I disliked the behavior. Of course, with rentals
there are no owner manuals. I had to do some web hunting to find the
button that disabled the feature so the engine stayed on at stops. On
vacation, I'm not trying to save on the cost of fuel; however, if it
were my daily commuter car, yeah, then I'd probably like the fuel
savings but the much higher starter wear could mean a shorter interval
to replace it.
What you describe for behavior when resuming from a stop sounds more
like the stop-start scheme than anything to do with the CVT.
Interesting. I hadn't heard of this technology. I just found this
article from AutoWeek:
It says that the starter and engine components are being re-engineered
to survive the additional startups. Sounds annoying, though.
My BMW has an option to permanently disable the start/stop function. I
generally have it turned off, as it gets annoying in circumstances
such as trying to make a left turn at lights, where you want to be
able to move ahead as soon as there is a break in oncoming traffic
which may be only a few seconds or when you arrive at a red light that
turns green a few seconds later.
My Audi does not allow for turning the function off permanently, but
there is a button that turns it off. Unfortunately, the system resets
every time the car is started, so disabling the start/stop function
has become part of my start routine, like fastening my seatbelt.
And, to your last point: yes, the battery and starting system have
been significantly upgraded to withstand the more frequent use.
I have had the start/stop feature on BMWs and Audis, so I know whereof
you speak. The Escape I was given did not have this feature. Perhaps
you were given a more upscale model, or a newer model that had the
I refer only to the fact that when I wanted to leave a stop, the
engine would rev and the car began to move, but much more slowly than
the engine revs would indicate. As if there was a rubber band that
took some time to wind up before it delivered full power to the wheels.
As I said in my original post on this topic: I have heard that Subaru
does have one of the better implementations of the CVT, including
having a pseudo manual shifting mode, and I am quite willing to
believe that this "rubber band" effect is not present on their vehicles.
The CVTs in Nissans have had a long history of complaints.
This one notes the rubber band effect:
And these folks discuss it:
Their cure is the age-old "step off the line" with higher RPMs: hold the
brake and rev the engine before taking off (usually in preparation for a
fast start from a red light). Seems like changing the tranny oil helps.
I have a 2018 Subaru Outback with a CVT. I haven't noticed the rubber
band effect. To be fair, I don't often drive that car. However, the
whole feel is different than I'm used to in my daily commuter car (2002
Subaru Legacy wagon with standard automatic tranny). Since neither is a
muscle car, I don't drive them that way. Nevertheless, the 2018 Subie
with its CVT seems more than sufficient when I stopped at a right-turn
entrance to a highway to let me get into traffic. I like it better than
my old 2002 but then I'm going to beat up and risk my oldie in rush-hour
traffic than my new baby.
If you're looking at off-the-line fast starts, quick 0-60 acceleration
with not hesitation, or otherwise gulping down the gas, and you must
have an automatic instead of a manual, maybe get a car with a DCT: 2
clutches, one for odd gears, one for even gears, for smooth acceleration
(no manual jerking) since there is no interruption of torque to the
wheels. Just don't use that car for commuting in the city or stalled in
rush-hour highway driving that moves slower than the frontage road.
It's your play car.
You might find this humorous:
One advantage of manuals is more torque can be delivered from engine to
wheels. All automatics have limits of the input torque they can handle
after which they will slip and get damaged. Manuals have a direct
gear-to-gear linkage. There is no direct linkage in automatics of any
kind. It's possible to damage an automatic, any type, if the input side
has more torque than the automatic can handle.
If you want to see inside Subaru's CVT:
I've noticed drivers used to old or standard automatics don't like the
CVT will rev up and maintain an RPM as the car is accelerating. They're
used to the RPMs revving up, hitting a peak, there's a jolt to shift
gears, and RPMs start lower and rise again to the next shift point.
They're used to hearing the RPMs rev up as they accelerate, not the revs
go up immediately and then hang there throughout the acceleration.
Instead of feeling the revs and watching the RPM gauge, they should just
watch the speedometer to see the rate the car is accelerating. Forget
what you're used to sensing through your butt for its trained memory on
sensing how the standard automatics worked.
One thing about Subaru is that they will deny problems despite mountains
of evidence. Instead of putting in the sportier gasket that has ribs to
fit inside grooves in the engine block, they denied the problem until
forced and their solution was to use an engine leak in their "special"
coolant to plug the holes. I had to do that on my 2002 Subie Legacy.
Once the oil is noticed on the block, you need to get the gasket
replaced before coolant gets inside to ruin the pistons and cylinders.
Rather than retool their assembly line to use the better gasket, they
hid the truth and then went to a stopleak solution (rolls eyes). Subaru
is not immune to the antics evidenced by every auto maker to cover their
mistakes. While I like Subies, I didn't want to present a blind fantasy
view that they do no evil.
If the CVT stalling were admitted, the feds would force a recall and
repair of ALL models. By Subaru extending the warranty, they avoided
the high cost of the recall to repair all vehicles to only those where
the customers complained about a problem. In this case, being proactive
(recall repairs on all) would be far more expensive the being reactive
(warranty repairs on few). Subaru getting tricky again. From that
article, looks like I need to make sure to do the maintainence (fluid
change) on the CVT since I'm in the highest "pain rank". Luckily that
car is the one that gets the least mileage. CVTs require due deligence
Now go do the same level of research on CVTs in other brands and you'll
find problems there, too. Nothing is perfect.
On Friday, May 18, 2018 at 11:16:52 AM UTC-7, VanguardLH wrote:
Ahh MRT Performance, great video!
I've heard a long time ago that the six cylinder
Subarus have a strengthened CVT that can handle
the big torque of the 3.6 liter engine.
I own two Subarus- live in a location were
they are very popular (Sierra Nevada) and
had some friends ask me if Subarus are
reliable and should they buy one. I try to
explain that "yes" they are very reliable, in
a sense that nothing breaks because of poor
quality, poor workmanship. Quality-wise
components are on par with Toyota, Honda,
Nissan but some specific areas have under-engineering
...are prone to give trouble or fail such
as wheel bearings, gaskets on old 2.5 EJ engines,
piston rings on high powered turbo cars. These
problematic areas can give trouble and frequently
do, but overall Subaru's are very and good
A lot of failures are related to modifications
made by owners or abuse. Subarus particularly WRX'es
are very frequently modified and abuses by their
Very frequently Subarus encounter severe service,
such as high speed mountainous driving, and that
can also take a toll on the drivetrain. I've
personally replaced wheel bearings on my Impreza
six times in 18 years, but it is not Subarus fault
but normal wear given my driving style. I drive fast
on curvy mountainous roads. To stay within speed
limits, avoid speeding tickets I tend to accelerate,
try to maintain high speed on steep inclines, that puts
a lot of stress on drivetrain.
If I where to buy a CVT I am sure I would encounter
some problems. My regular Auto with is equipped
with an oversized transmission cooler, has cooling
fins put on trannsmission fitler and so it has been
coping splendidly with my demands. Has more that
125k miles of tortuous driving. Speaks very well
of Subaru quality.
On Friday, May 18, 2018 at 4:13:05 PM UTC-7, cameo wrote:
I don't know.
Maybe four wheel drive puts some additional stress
on bearings and that is why they tend not to last
in Subaru's. I can't see how that could be but I
am not a mechanic.
When I first test drove a Subaru I noticed
a very slight, almost imperceivable jerkiness
on road imperfections. Did not even realize
at first what it was, only later. It is known
to be related to four wheel drive, more specifically
to how shifts in torque occur between front and
rear axles (in cars that have the variable torque
distribition feature with automatic transmissions.
Manual tranny's are 50/50 front/rear fixed, i believe).
I suspect this may have something to do with
wheel bearing wear, but honestly don't know.
I've just become resigned to this issue, and
treat it as normal wear given my higher speed,
up/down mountainous, heavy cornering driving.
There's plenty of minor road imperfections
where I drive too.
Back in 1994 when I got my first Subaru, I spent a couple of
weeks in Truckee. Even back then, when Subies weren't nearly
as popular in the U.S. as they are now, the Safeway parking
lot in Truckee looked like a Subaru dealership. :-)
On Friday, May 18, 2018 at 4:59:49 PM UTC-7, Patty Winter wrote:
Yes you remember corectly. Back in 1989 when I
first visited the area it was Jeeps, AMC Eagles,
and Subaru's. There weren't any other 4 wheel
drive offerings. Ford Bronco with optional 4
wheel drive, I think, something from GMC (?)
I forget. SUV's were almost non-existent then.
Haven't seen many Suzuki Samurai's. It was very
popular in Arizona at the time.
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