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Hello all!

I've owned several Outbacks in my life but the newest I ever owned was an '03; much has changed since then, obviously!!!

I'm considering buying a late model (current generation) Outback with the 6 cylinder engine but am leery of CVTs in general.  All the Subarus I've owned have been 4 cylinder, manual transmission vehicles.  Knowing that the Outback hasn't been offered with a stick shift for many years I'm left to choose between a CVT and an "old school" automatic.  I have two questions for you folks:

1. What was the last year that Subaru offered an automatic (that is, non-CVT) transmission in an Outback?

2. What are your general thoughts, pro v. con, concerning the Subaru CVT?  FWIW, I will NEVER tow with a vehicle I own so that's doesn't even enter into my thinking on this.

 

I welcome your input!!

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The EAT trans is awesome. All things being equal get the EAT, but they’re not equal.  Newer with CVT with some significant upsides. Take your pick. 

Id lean towards an EAT or as new as possible 2017+ CVT and try to avoid the first iterations with extended warranties. 

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Couldn't tell you exactly when the 6-cyl went from the 5EAT to the CVT. I wouldn't have any qualms about the CVT in particular (I'm not a fan of new vehicles in general, so I'm speaking with a grain of salt). The one put in the H6 Outbacks is a high torque version essentially the same as the one the Forester XT was receiving for many years earlier. It takes a unique fluid that (at least as of a few years ago, when I still worked at the dealership) is only available in 5-gallon pails.

I will say, test drive a CVT car. See if a dealership will let you demo one so you can live with it for a few days. It's a very different feeling. My mom has a 2012 Impreza with the CVT (almost 170k miles on it) and I find the sensation distracting, because I'm used to driving old $#!+boxes, I'm always acutely aware of what the transmission is doing, and it feels like a slipping automatic to me. I'd probably get used to it, but it definitely bugs me. My mom doesn't notice at all....

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The 5EAT is crap. Many problems. 4EAT was great. 5EAT.... not so much. Wiring problems, solenoid/valve body problems, TC problems...... it's a laundry list and they were never fixed. 

The late model 3.6 has the "high torque" CVT and they have been great. I have a customer that's nearing 200k on a 2016 and he hasn't had any problems really other than a TC seal that was fixed under warranty. 

Amsoil's CVT fluid exceeds both of Subaru's specs. Regular and High Torque. Available in quarts. 

The Subaru fluid is in quarts now also I believe. Same with the gear oil. They discontinued selling pails of Extra-S. 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder

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I bought my wife an '11 Legacy 2.5 Premium that has a CVT in it. The car turned 145k on our test drive. It now has over 230k on it and no problems so far. The only issue i can think of and I'm not even sure it's an issue with the trans, is once in a great while with the a/c on when pulling up to a stop it will shudder. Other than that just like Numbchux i always drove old school automatics or spoob box cars that you feel shift. It took me some time to get used to it, but now it's all good. Once in awhile the wifey and i will have a laugh remembering that test drive and me yelling at the "shift damn it! F'n shift! " lol

Edited by x-t-c

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7 hours ago, x-t-c said:

I bought my wife an '11 Legacy 2.5 Premium that has a CVT in it. The car turned 145k on our test drive. It now has over 230k on it and no problems so far. The only issue i can think of and I'm not even sure it's an issue with the trans, is once in a great while with the a/c on when pulling up to a stop it will shudder. Other than that just like Numbchux i always drove old school automatics or spoob box cars that you feel shift. It took me some time to get used to it, but now it's all good. Once in awhile the wifey and i will have a laugh remembering that test drive and me yelling at the "shift damn it! F'n shift! " lol

Your vehicle had the trans swapped before the extended warranty ran out or at least before you got it at 145k,..... basically none of those 10/11 models made it that far without a replacement transmission. 

GD

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On 6/22/2020 at 10:20 PM, GeneralDisorder said:

Your vehicle had the trans swapped before the extended warranty ran out or at least before you got it at 145k,..... basically none of those 10/11 models made it that far without a replacement transmission. 

GD

So what is/was the common failure of the TR690? And was it corrected in replacement units?

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I work on Subarus everyday. We've got customers getting over the 200k mark without any issues at all. In fact we've never had to replace a cvt. Some of the earlier gens put up a Christmas tree on the dash (all lights flare up) and replacing the valve body fixes the issue. And Subaru does sell their genuine cvt fluid by the quart now. It's a clear, minty green fluid that almost smells like liquorice. 

To get back on topic, the cvt are holding up well (except the first two or so years they were produced) and if you don't mind how they drive as opposed to a traditional automatic don't fear buying the newer Subarus. 

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Yes, they offer the green standard CVT fluid in the quart.

 

I do not believe they offer the orange high-torque CVT fluid in anything other than a 5-gallon bucket.

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On 6/26/2020 at 7:42 AM, SubieShop said:

I work on Subarus everyday. We've got customers getting over the 200k mark without any issues at all. In fact we've never had to replace a cvt. Some of the earlier gens put up a Christmas tree on the dash (all lights flare up) and replacing the valve body fixes the issue. And Subaru does sell their genuine cvt fluid by the quart now. It's a clear, minty green fluid that almost smells like liquorice. 

To get back on topic, the cvt are holding up well (except the first two or so years they were produced) and if you don't mind how they drive as opposed to a traditional automatic don't fear buying the newer Subarus. 

So what years would those be? The "wiki history" link shows that to be a long time ago. So are you talking about those antique units? Or the newer ones that started sometime around 09?

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1 hour ago, x-t-c said:

So what years would those be? The "wiki history" link shows that to be a long time ago. So are you talking about those antique units? Or the newer ones that started sometime around 09?

He’s talking about the newer ones, newer than 2010.

subaru offered an extended CVT warranty for a reason:

https://www.ncconsumer.org/news-articles/subaru-issues-extended-transmission-warranty-program-for-certain-vehicles.html

The early years did see failures and issues. I’m not well versed in which years, though that chart above might be a good starting point.  I don’t recommend people to avoid earlier ones necessarily, but I generally recommend leaning towards 2017+ if there’s a choice.

sometimes you can find them on dealer lots with new transmissions in them. I went with a friend last year and he bought a Forster with a replacement CVT trans installed by the selling Subaru dealer. Service records showed it was diagnosed and traded in at that dealer. 

Edited by idosubaru

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Ok so based on the extended warranty chart and the experience you guys have had, our 2011 would be in the early category.  It's also pretty safe to say that it had work done on, or replacement of the CVT when we got it at 145k. So now what I'm needing to figure out is if i need to be preparing for that again. We are at 230k and change.

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45 minutes ago, x-t-c said:

Ok so based on the extended warranty chart and the experience you guys have had, our 2011 would be in the early category.  It's also pretty safe to say that it had work done on, or replacement of the CVT when we got it at 145k. So now what I'm needing to figure out is if i need to be preparing for that again. We are at 230k and change.

Change the fluid, multiple times if it hasn't been done much. And monitor CVT temperatures. 

Otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it.  It's a quarter million mile vehicle, the CVT doesn't have inordinate precedent over other transmissions or potential maintenance/failures at this age. Be prepared for maintenance/repair commensurate with any quarter million mile vehicle, not just "CVT", and carry on. 

 

 

 

 

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Things to watch out for is rough idles or engine stalling coming to a stop.

We like to change the fluid every 60k. If you or whoever does the work notices the fluid is still dark coming out of the overflow or fill hole after changing, change it again. 

It should be the light green color or close to it. 

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2 hours ago, x-t-c said:

Ok so based on the extended warranty chart and the experience you guys have had, our 2011 would be in the early category.  It's also pretty safe to say that it had work done on, or replacement of the CVT when we got it at 145k. So now what I'm needing to figure out is if i need to be preparing for that again. We are at 230k and change.

As above - change the fluid and move on. These vehicles rarely get much past 250k before being scrapped out simply due to everything on them wearing out including the engine, suspension, wheel bearings, brakes, etc. So that vehicle in all likelyhood has in the neighborhood of 50k left in it statistically before you or the next guy gives up on it. It's resale value at that point (frankly already with 230k) is in the toilet so a transmission swap won't happen no matter if the trans dies or not. 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder

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