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I bought a brand new 2020 Ascent Premium in late 2019 and been dealing with a jerky transmission ever since. I brought it to my dealer and they test drove it and said it is normal. I never had a CVT tranny before and don't know if this is normal. The hesitation occurs usually at low speeds and then going up a grade the engine revs up but then there is no corresponding shifting or increase in speed. It always seems like the transmission does not know what to do. I know the 2019 Ascents had transmission issues and I wonder if I got a transmission from the 2019 model run. I sent a email to Subaru of America and got the standard corporate response of thank you and inform your dealer. It seems that the engineers designed this high tech CVT system and overlooked the basic idea of a smooth driving vehicle. Every time I drive this Ascent I wonder if I should just deal with it and keep it or get rid of it.
 

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I bought a brand new 2020 Ascent Premium in late 2019 and been dealing with a jerky transmission ever since. I brought it to my dealer and they test drove it and said it is normal. I never had a CVT tranny before and don't know if this is normal. The hesitation occurs usually at low speeds and then going up a grade the engine revs up but then there is no corresponding shifting or increase in speed. It always seems like the transmission does not know what to do. I know the 2019 Ascents had transmission issues and I wonder if I got a transmission from the 2019 model run. I sent a email to Subaru of America and got the standard corporate response of thank you and inform your dealer. It seems that the engineers designed this high tech CVT system and overlooked the basic idea of a smooth driving vehicle. Every time I drive this Ascent I wonder if I should just deal with it and keep it or get rid of it.
the 2019 model did not have any CVT problem. the problem resided n the wiring harness. I suggest you drive some other 2020 in order to determine if what you are experiencing is unique to your vehicle or across many 2020 units and you simply do not like how the CVT is set up. You also might be able to tune it with COBB more to your liking.
 

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Hi Mr.E

The 2019's with the bad harness WILL eventually lead to a broken CVT. That is why Subaru is essentially giving 2019 owners a second transmission. But this issue has been corrected (I hope!).

In your case, can you provide more information? Is the incline really steep? Are you experiencing this on cold starts? Heaven forbid, but do you hear any squealing when the transmission jerks?
 

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Every time I drive this Ascent I wonder if I should just deal with it and keep it or get rid of it.
I teeter on that exact same fence every time I drive my white 2020 Limited (7500) - every single drive.

It used to only shutter & stutter when at the transition from coasting to lightly rolling onto the throttle at the base of inclines in the road. Now it is starting to do it more and more consistently from coasting to rolling onto the throttle on flat roads.

I have taken into the dealer but also got the "the tech didn't notice anything abnormal for the vehicle" response. Going to try again when I can actually ride along with the tech and take him to some nearby locations where it shutter-stutters consistently.

I haven't bothered to write SOA - I gather that SOA are great when a vehicle is totally kaput but I don't have the patience (or time to waste) to write SOA just to get the inevitable standard "contact your dealer" boilerplate brush off.

I really love the Ascent in concept and form factor - a great big 3 row Subaru with tons of space - what's not to love about it? Well, for me, it's the sloppy drive train on my 45 thousand dollar vehicle - the absolute sloppyist (and most annoying) drive train performance of any car I have ever owned.

Now, mind you, I have gotten over the rediculous (and unpopular) shift simulations - I've even gotten myself to a point of peace regarding the inexplicable and annoying acceleration bog down by training myself to significantly increase throttle just before the drop out to smooth out the bog down to make it tolerable. But, I will only try once more with the dealer to get the shutter-stutter resolved - one more "nothing abnormal here - that's how the Ascent was engineered to drive" response and I'm out...

My wife won't drive it anymore and I can't really blame her - there are days when I grab the keys to her CrossTrek instead when I am just not in the mood to tolerate my quirky Ascent.

I just want my 45 thousand dollar vehicle to drive as if the drive train knows what to do (and does it) without stumbling over itself until it decides. I realize there is a ton of tech built into today's new cars but I don't think I am asking too much here... ☹

This is my 4th Subaru - my first one was a 1988 Loyale Wagon Turbo. Ironically, even though I loved its concept and form factor, it too had a major drive train quirk that resulted in a horribly annoying "fish-nibbling" hesitation throughout the throttle range. It was out of warranty and after being told by Subaru maintenance techs that it would probably drive better if they replaced the turbo and/or the torque converter, I ended the relationship.

7175


As mentioned, I am teetering with this Ascent. My initial strategy was to ride it out and hope that if the transmission was going to fail, that it did so before the warranty ends. But, now, I am about at my fill with the repeated guessing each time I apply throttle - is it going to give me the shimmy-shake & stutter-shutter on this acceleration or is this going one to be a smooth one?... and lather, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum.

Maybe the next time I take it in for this, I will be able to make it happen with a service tech in the vehicle and they will hear and/or feel it and know how to resolve it. Who knows?

What I do know is that dealing with it is wearing on me.
 

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The hesitation occurs usually at low speeds and then going up a grade the engine revs up but then there is no corresponding shifting or increase in speed. It always seems like the transmission does not know what to do.
That's just how these transmissions are programmed. The low speed hesitation is probably the "bog" feeling you get when you start accelerating with a light throttle and, a few seconds later (after the car gets moving), the engine speed falls down to about 1,200 rpm and it feels like it falls on its face. The "trick" to driving this car smoothly is stepping off with a light foot and, when you start to hear or feel the engine speed falling, steadily increase the throttle. Not to the floor or anything, but just smoothly give it some more gas. With practice, you can get this transition pretty smooth to where you almost can't feel the hesitation at all.

The engine revving up on hills is also a normal function of the programming. It seems to do that only when it sees a steady speed or even a slight decay in speed -- then it'll send the engine revving about 1,000 rpm higher than it was, even as you ease up on the gas. As with the hesitation trick described above, I've found that you can "trick it" by giving it a little more gas as you climb the hill...as soon as you start to sense the engine speed start to climb, ease into the gas some more; this will keep the CVT ratios from changing like that.

I do not like the programming and it seems you don't either. PLEASE contact Subaru of America (send email, phone call, etc.) and let them know you don't like this and that you don't have confidence in the vehicle. The only way they'll get the word that customers don't like how it drives is to actually hear word from customers who don't like how it drives.

I did that and documented it here. I encourage you to contact SoA as well and voice your frustration and opinion.

It seems that the engineers designed this high tech CVT system and overlooked the basic idea of a smooth driving vehicle.
I think the Ascent could drive much more smoothly than it does.

Other models in the Subaru line drive MUCH more smoothly. The 2.5L Outback and Forester, for example. They're lighter and not turbocharged, so there definitely are mechanical differences. But they're examples of CVT-equipped vehicles that drive very nicely. So it's not that CVTs cannot be smooth -- they generally are very smooth, smoother than traditional geared automatic transmissions.
 

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I haven't bothered to write SOA - I gather that SOA are great when a vehicle is totally kaput but I don't have the patience (or time to waste) to write SOA just to get the inevitable standard "contact your dealer" boilerplate brush off.
Respectfully, you've taken the time to write a very detailed post on this forum about what you don't like about it. The same amount of time could be spent writing a similarly detailed email to SoA instead. ;)

Let them know that the dealer said that the operation is normal, and let them know that you feel that there are no mechanical issues with it -- it's just now it's programmed to drive -- and that you don't like it. If you get so fed up with it that you trade it off, Subaru will never know why you traded it (or even that you traded it) and Ascent owners as a group, including you up until the point you trade it, if that's your ultimate decision, won't be any closer to a solution.

What I do know is that dealing with it is wearing on me.
Again, I'd respectfully suggest contacting SoA. We can sympathize with you on this forum, but we're also not a direct link to the Subaru product engineers who have the ability to at least review customer feedback (and, ultimately, use it to make decisions about product fixes and/or software updates).
 

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I teeter on that exact same fence every time I drive my white 2020 Limited (7500) - every single drive.

It used to only shutter & stutter when at the transition from coasting to lightly rolling onto the throttle at the base of inclines in the road. Now it is starting to do it more and more consistently from coasting to rolling onto the throttle on flat roads.

I have taken into the dealer but also got the "the tech didn't notice anything abnormal for the vehicle" response. Going to try again when I can actually ride along with the tech and take him to some nearby locations where it shutter-stutters consistently.

I haven't bothered to write SOA - I gather that SOA are great when a vehicle is totally kaput but I don't have the patience (or time to waste) to write SOA just to get the inevitable standard "contact your dealer" boilerplate brush off.

What I do know is that dealing with it is wearing on me.
This is how I feel and also how my shuddering has been lately too. Almost threw in the towel on many occasions. I'm patiently waiting to see what Toyota does with the "Grand Highlander" since the current Highlander's third row is too laughable for a tall family.
 

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Respectfully, you've taken the time to write a very detailed post on this forum about what you don't like about it. The same amount of time could be spent writing a similarly detailed email to SoA instead. ;)

Let them know that the dealer said that the operation is normal, and let them know that you feel that there are no mechanical issues with it -- it's just now it's programmed to drive -- and that you don't like it. If you get so fed up with it that you trade it off, Subaru will never know why you traded it (or even that you traded it) and Ascent owners as a group, including you up until the point you trade it, if that's your ultimate decision, won't be any closer to a solution.



Again, I'd respectfully suggest contacting SoA. We can sympathize with you on this forum, but we're also not a direct link to the Subaru product engineers who have the ability to at least review customer feedback (and, ultimately, use it to make decisions about product fixes and/or software updates).
I appreciate the respectful and helpful advice to contact SOA - however, this is my third new car in a row with drive train issues and I just don't have it in me to craft up another polite message to headquarters that will likely only generate a generic "contact your dealer to get this looked at" response. I am skipping that and will continue to work directly thru my dealer until either they resolve it or until I have had enough of the issues and the "there is nothing wrong with your car" responses.

Also, understand that my goal in taking the time to share on this forum isn't to get my car's issues resolved - I am merely sharing similar experience as that of the original poster (and any other forum members experiencing the same issue) - comiseraring if you will...

Hopefully I can get the service department to observe, acknowledge and subsequently resolve the issue - if not, then it's decision time - like the original poster said, to deal with it or to choose not to.

I hope my posts haven't taken on a Subaru hater guy flavor. If so, that is not my intention. I absolutely LOVE this vehicle. I love its looks, its size and utility, and that it's a Subaru - I like what Subaru stands for. Heck, believe it or not, I even like the sound system! :)
 

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I hope my posts haven't taken on a Subaru hater guy flavor. If so, that is not my intention. I absolutely LOVE this vehicle. I love its looks, its size and utility, and that it's a Subaru - I like what Subaru stands for. Heck, believe it or not, I even like the sound system! :)
I'm 100% with you. At times, I've considered trading ours. But our whole family really enjoys it. It's our first Subaru ever, and we have several friends who have driven Subarus for years and years and have been very happy with them. So we really like the car and have faith in its durability.

I think the transmission programming is poor. This cannot be the best they can come up with. None of these happen during ACC operation (Adaptive Cruise Control). The car does not bog just off the line when you resume ACC from a stop. The engine speed doesn't run away from you on a hill during ACC operation. I've never felt the shudder during ACC operation (though to be fair, the shudder is somewhat infrequent in ours). I believe deep down that all of the things we don't like are not mechanical failures...they're just features of the software that make for inconsistent behavior. This is why I usually recommend communication to SoA -- I believe all of this could be fixed with a software update.

If Subaru offered a software update for these which fixed this stuff, I'd really be elated.
 

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I hope more people write them. I utterly love how my car behaves under ACC.

I think the transmission programming is poor. This cannot be the best they can come up with. None of these happen during ACC operation (Adaptive Cruise Control). The car does not bog just off the line when you resume ACC from a stop. The engine speed doesn't run away from you on a hill during ACC operation. I've never felt the shudder during ACC operation (though to be fair, the shudder is somewhat infrequent in ours). I believe deep down that all of the things we don't like are not mechanical failures...they're just features of the software that make for inconsistent behavior. This is why I usually recommend communication to SoA -- I believe all of this could be fixed with a software update.
 

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This is how I feel and also how my shuddering has been lately too. Almost threw in the towel on many occasions. I'm patiently waiting to see what Toyota does with the "Grand Highlander" since the current Highlander's third row is too laughable for a tall family.
Isn't that called the Sequoia? ;)
 

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i have a late 2020 touring with little jerking. it was very noticeable to me but the they did a software update after that it was considerable gone.
 

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I think the transmission programming is poor. This cannot be the best they can come up with.
If the transmission programming and/or throttle mapping are the cause(s) of this quirky-jerky aspects of the drive train performance, I totally agree that Subaru can do better. it's just so hard to conceive that a manufacturer with such high standards would rubber stamp this programming into production as desirable.

...If Subaru offered a software update for these which fixed this stuff, I'd really be elated.
Me too - maybe one day we'll get a long overdue email...

I hope more people write them...
If the service department doesn't resolve the shutter-stutter, I guess it wouldn't hurt to send SOA a letter - as a last ditch effort for resolution but also for the good of the order.

Though I do think it is fair to give the dealer the opportunity to resolve it first - but, I see your point in that the more owners that communicate displeasure over this to SOA, the better.

I use ACC a lot...mostly because of how smooth it is. But also because of Subaru's fantastic EyeSight software. It hasn't mis-stepped once on us.
Maybe it's time I try utilizing ACC more to smooth things out and maybe even directing the drive train's behavior with manual paddle shift mode.

i have a late 2020 touring with little jerking. it was very noticeable to me but the they did a software update after that it was considerable gone.
Good suggestion - thank you. I was hopeful that an update was due and that it would improve things but I had them check it when I had it in and they said it was up to date.

All good suggestions and advice everyone - much appreciated. Your feedback and ideas are somewhat encouraging as well - I guess it is true that misery loves company. Sorry about the super long rant...

If anything new develops, I will be sure to post.
 

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Maybe it's time I try utilizing ACC more to smooth things out and maybe even directing the drive train's behavior with manual paddle shift mode.
I use the manual shift paddles somewhat often. In fact, in my letter to Subaru on this, I even praised them for including the paddle shifters (and on a CVT no less). Shifters on a CVT, which should be utterly useless due to the nature of a CVT (no "gears"), really add a lot of dimension to this drivetrain in my opinion and give a lot more command of the engine to the driver. Yes, they take a little more concentration to use (if you use them often), but no more than driving a car with a manual transmission. You don't get the engine revving unnecessarily up hills...just keep it in a reasonable "gear" where the engine isn't bogged down, and you'll be fine. You don't get that bogged down feeling just after stepping off from a stop (depending on your throttle position). Just upshift when able and the vehicle generally drives off pretty smoothly.

I also think the paddle shifters help to smooth out the throttle response at speed. When you get up to and beyond about 50-55 mph, the throttle mapping feels pretty touchy. Just a little bit of gas often really enlivens the engine and then you have to back off just slightly to get the rate of acceleration you really wanted, etc. It can be a touchy thing, and unnecessarily distracting when you're otherwise trying to drive a steady speed or with other traffic on rolling hills, etc. This is where I'll often use the paddle shifters. Because the engine can't flare up and down, and is "locked in" to a certain engine speed (at least that which correlates with current road speed), the throttle response is pretty damped, and you have a more ability with the throttle pedal to get exactly what you want. The same deal applies here as before -- don't lug the engine, etc.

I do find this engine to be a real sweetheart, and it really livens up when you control the transmission with the paddle shifters. I'm grateful to have them, especially with the awkward throttle/CVT programming we have.
 

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I teeter on that exact same fence every time I drive my white 2020 Limited (7500) - every single drive.

It used to only shutter & stutter when at the transition from coasting to lightly rolling onto the throttle at the base of inclines in the road. Now it is starting to do it more and more consistently from coasting to rolling onto the throttle on flat roads.

I have taken into the dealer but also got the "the tech didn't notice anything abnormal for the vehicle" response. Going to try again when I can actually ride along with the tech and take him to some nearby locations where it shutter-stutters consistently.

I haven't bothered to write SOA - I gather that SOA are great when a vehicle is totally kaput but I don't have the patience (or time to waste) to write SOA just to get the inevitable standard "contact your dealer" boilerplate brush off.

I really love the Ascent in concept and form factor - a great big 3 row Subaru with tons of space - what's not to love about it? Well, for me, it's the sloppy drive train on my 45 thousand dollar vehicle - the absolute sloppyist (and most annoying) drive train performance of any car I have ever owned.

Now, mind you, I have gotten over the rediculous (and unpopular) shift simulations - I've even gotten myself to a point of peace regarding the inexplicable and annoying acceleration bog down by training myself to significantly increase throttle just before the drop out to smooth out the bog down to make it tolerable. But, I will only try once more with the dealer to get the shutter-stutter resolved - one more "nothing abnormal here - that's how the Ascent was engineered to drive" response and I'm out...

My wife won't drive it anymore and I can't really blame her - there are days when I grab the keys to her CrossTrek instead when I am just not in the mood to tolerate my quirky Ascent.

I just want my 45 thousand dollar vehicle to drive as if the drive train knows what to do (and does it) without stumbling over itself until it decides. I realize there is a ton of tech built into today's new cars but I don't think I am asking too much here... ☹

This is my 4th Subaru - my first one was a 1988 Loyale Wagon Turbo. Ironically, even though I loved its concept and form factor, it too had a major drive train quirk that resulted in a horribly annoying "fish-nibbling" hesitation throughout the throttle range. It was out of warranty and after being told by Subaru maintenance techs that it would probably drive better if they replaced the turbo and/or the torque converter, I ended the relationship.

View attachment 7175

As mentioned, I am teetering with this Ascent. My initial strategy was to ride it out and hope that if the transmission was going to fail, that it did so before the warranty ends. But, now, I am about at my fill with the repeated guessing each time I apply throttle - is it going to give me the shimmy-shake & stutter-shutter on this acceleration or is this going one to be a smooth one?... and lather, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum.

Maybe the next time I take it in for this, I will be able to make it happen with a service tech in the vehicle and they will hear and/or feel it and know how to resolve it. Who knows?

What I do know is that dealing with it is wearing on me.
Go to Carvana and see what they will give you for it.
 

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the 2019 model did not have any CVT problem. the problem resided n the wiring harness. I suggest you drive some other 2020 in order to determine if what you are experiencing is unique to your vehicle or across many 2020 units and you simply do not like how the CVT is set up. You also might be able to tune it with COBB more to your liking.
Packout,

We just got our 2019 Touring back from service for a dead transmission replacement (39,000 miles). So...you may say "the 2019 model did not have any CVT problem," ours did. This latest issue can be added to our sunroof, cooling seat (driver's), and AC outlet issues.

And, yeah, I understand first year productions are prone to glitches, but this is shaking our confidence in this, our fourth, Subaru.

God Bless,
Bob
 

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We just got our 2019 Touring back from service for a dead transmission replacement (39,000 miles). So...you may say "the 2019 model did not have any CVT problem," ours did. This latest issue can be added to our sunroof, cooling seat (driver's), and AC outlet issues.
Hi Bob,

If your CVT died, it was likely caused by the harness. The new CVT comes with a new harness to prevent it from happening again. No one is saying that some CVTs aren't dying. We're saying that virtually every one of them is dying due to the harness issue, as opposed to a design issue on the almost 12 year old design.

Hope that clarifies.
 

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Packout,

We just got our 2019 Touring back from service for a dead transmission replacement (39,000 miles). So...you may say "the 2019 model did not have any CVT problem," ours did. This latest issue can be added to our sunroof, cooling seat (driver's), and AC outlet issues.

And, yeah, I understand first year productions are prone to glitches, but this is shaking our confidence in this, our fourth, Subaru.

God Bless,
Bob
Had they replaced the harness prior? Did they replace the harness this time?
 

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We have a 2019 too and the transmission and low speed driving just is not like other CVT cars. Until COVID, I rented cars every 2 weeks and drove many Nissan and Ford cars with CVT. They are much smoother.

Knowing how the CVT works, it makes sense that going up a hill would trigger the car to change to a higher revving "gear". The reason being, the car is heavy and if it did not, the car would put a major strain on the engine and gearbox resulting in the car not lasting as long.
 
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