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I have been earnestly reading all of the posts associated with real and perceived transmission issues, and then putting them in context with my 2019 Ascent's behavior. I am coming up on 6,000 miles and 6 months of ownership. My driving style is about 1,000 miles per month, 80% suburban driving and 20% interstate. My shifting experience is buttery smooth at higher speeds and interstate driving, but hunting/searching up and down at slower around the community speeds, or when first warming up. I don't think there is anything wrong with my transmission, but the hunting/searching at lower gears causes one to have the exact opposite view of what I think Subaru would like us to have, and that is full confidence in the vehicle.

My son has a Lexus hybrid (I think) with a CVT that is a few years old. I asked him how many pre-programmed shift points there are in his car, and he couldn't tell me. Upon inspection, he said he didn't think there were any. He is a millennial (27 years old). The absence of pre-programmed shift points never crossed his mind.

That brings me to the "why" of purchasing a Subaru. I traded a Merc ML-350 for my 2019 Ascent, because I wanted to stop using premium gas, pay less for periodic scheduled services, have impeccable reliability, and enjoy the driving experience I had with my 2009 Forester. So with the Ascent I achieved the switch to regular gas, just had a $97 6,000 mile service (better than $400 with the Merc), but I'm not yet there with the feeling of reliability or completely enjoying the driving experience. And the reason for that I'm convinced is the fake shift points, and stammering and stuttering at lower speeds. Part of this has been mitigated by adjusting my driving technique, but not all. I gave myself time to get used to it, and also to adjust how I drive the car. All good.

But if Subaru wants to hit a home run with this car, may I humbly suggest that I would be willing to pay a couple hundred bucks, and suffer a few less miles per gallon, to have the option to take my car to the dealer, and have them update the software or whatever needs to be done, to eliminate the (8?) pre-programmed shift points, and just let the CVT be the CVT like my son's car. If Subaru would offer such an option, I would be the first one to the dealer to implement the update.

I want to 100% love my Ascent, but I'm having a hard time recommending that my friends and neighbors buy one, because of this lack of full confidence. To be fair, and I think Subaru must acknowledge this, Subaru can offer plenty of reasons why a customer's (or many customer's) views are unfounded, but if enough people have a given perception, then I think it is incumbent on Subaru to offer ways to mitigate the perception and increase confidence.

Again, I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with my CVT, but I don't like the hunting/stammering at lower gears or when cold starting. And I did go back to the dealer and purchase an extended warranty on the vehicle. So how about it Subaru? Offer us a choice, and create a software patch or update that will let us eliminate the shifts that may cause this hunting/stammering? If that truly could be done..... We are loyal Subaru owners and want to help, so give us a chance?

Thanks,
Rob
Towson, Maryland USA
 

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Yep. Plus, we wouldn't lose any mpg by losing the fake shifting. Fake shifting artificially jumps to set ratios, and that wastes gas IMO. Letting the CVT be a CVT is the most efficient, most logical, most customer-pleasing way to go.
F.S.

Edit: found old letter to Subaru:
 

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I do wish that Subaru would update the way this CVT behaves, but I have gotten pretty used to it. Despite its quirks mine has been trouble free for 14k miles. I try not to worry about its reliability too much. I may purchase an extended warranty before the standard one expires.

Also our CVT is very different than the Toyota (Lexus) ECVT used in their hybrids. There are no belts or chains to speak of. It’s a different animal altogether. The variable aspect of the ECVT varies the power split between the electric drive and the gas engine.
 

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Rob - Thanks for your well thought out and well written post. Honestly, if I was having what you are describing with my Ascent I'd feel the same way. It's not confidence inspiring that's for sure.

I have just over 13,000 miles on my Limited that was built last July and purchased last September. My urban/highway ratio is about the same as yours and being in Michigan, it's been though the beginning and end of a cold winter. We usually drive out to California for December-February.

I've never experienced anything like you have described with the CVT in my Accent, I can't believe that's normal or how it is intended to behave. Although this is mostly my vehicle, my wife does drive it occasionally and I'd never hear the end of it if this kind of behavior happened while she was using it. We drove over 8,000 miles out to and all over California last winter over every type of terrain and traffic in weather conditions ranging from below zero to over 100 degrees. Through all of that our Ascent has performed essentially flawlessly, which I believe is what was intended. Although this is my 3rd Subaru the others had manual transmissions and we're purchased in the 80's so this is my first ever CVT.

I really have no complaints about how the CVT works, but based upon the complaints I have read here, it looks like the fake shifting should be an option and not mandatory. However, I personally seldom experience that, it probably happens once every 1,000 miles for me.

I'd suggest having a discussion with your service manager and express your concerns as you have here. They should be willing to get to the bottom of you CVT issues.

I hope you can get a resolution and regain you confidence in your Ascent again.

Gary
 

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I'm still a stickshift guy at-heart, but I've driven enough of Subaru's latest CVTs to have come to at least an understanding (or so I think) with them. :LOL: As with any other "automatic" transmissions, I play a game: I try to guess my input so as to make the vehicle's output be what I actually want. It's not quite as engaging nor as fulfilling as hitting that heel-and-toe just right, but hey, it's something! ;)

In both the Ascent as well as my wife's WRX ('19, CVT - leased after term was reached on her '16 WRX CVT; I came to the Ascent from a '16 Outback 2.5i Limited), I still occasionally get a harsh "1 to 2" from-the-git, and also occasionally still stumble/search a bit in hillier areas.

But when that happens, I am always left to wonder if that's just because I've guessed wrong and caused the hickup/momentary incompatibility - if it's me at-fault - or if that's really the CVT's step-wise programming of "fake gears" that should instead be blamed.
 

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I actually like the shifts. It certainly will hunt at times, around 1500 rpm, but I couldnt stand the high rev whine of the cvt on my 2014 outback when i had it, especially cold.
 

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I have been earnestly reading all of the posts associated with real and perceived transmission issues, and then putting them in context with my 2019 Ascent's behavior. I am coming up on 6,000 miles and 6 months of ownership. My driving style is about 1,000 miles per month, 80% suburban driving and 20% interstate. My shifting experience is buttery smooth at higher speeds and interstate driving, but hunting/searching up and down at slower around the community speeds, or when first warming up. I don't think there is anything wrong with my transmission, but the hunting/searching at lower gears causes one to have the exact opposite view of what I think Subaru would like us to have, and that is full confidence in the vehicle.

My son has a Lexus hybrid (I think) with a CVT that is a few years old. I asked him how many pre-programmed shift points there are in his car, and he couldn't tell me. Upon inspection, he said he didn't think there were any. He is a millennial (27 years old). The absence of pre-programmed shift points never crossed his mind.

That brings me to the "why" of purchasing a Subaru. I traded a Merc ML-350 for my 2019 Ascent, because I wanted to stop using premium gas, pay less for periodic scheduled services, have impeccable reliability, and enjoy the driving experience I had with my 2009 Forester. So with the Ascent I achieved the switch to regular gas, just had a $97 6,000 mile service (better than $400 with the Merc), but I'm not yet there with the feeling of reliability or completely enjoying the driving experience. And the reason for that I'm convinced is the fake shift points, and stammering and stuttering at lower speeds. Part of this has been mitigated by adjusting my driving technique, but not all. I gave myself time to get used to it, and also to adjust how I drive the car. All good.

But if Subaru wants to hit a home run with this car, may I humbly suggest that I would be willing to pay a couple hundred bucks, and suffer a few less miles per gallon, to have the option to take my car to the dealer, and have them update the software or whatever needs to be done, to eliminate the (8?) pre-programmed shift points, and just let the CVT be the CVT like my son's car. If Subaru would offer such an option, I would be the first one to the dealer to implement the update.

I want to 100% love my Ascent, but I'm having a hard time recommending that my friends and neighbors buy one, because of this lack of full confidence. To be fair, and I think Subaru must acknowledge this, Subaru can offer plenty of reasons why a customer's (or many customer's) views are unfounded, but if enough people have a given perception, then I think it is incumbent on Subaru to offer ways to mitigate the perception and increase confidence.

Again, I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with my CVT, but I don't like the hunting/stammering at lower gears or when cold starting. And I did go back to the dealer and purchase an extended warranty on the vehicle. So how about it Subaru? Offer us a choice, and create a software patch or update that will let us eliminate the shifts that may cause this hunting/stammering? If that truly could be done..... We are loyal Subaru owners and want to help, so give us a chance?

Thanks,
Rob
Towson, Maryland USA
Exactly why I turned mine in early(36 month lease). Well not totally, I found it a bit to big for my needs and the interior did not grow on me coupled with so-so build quality. I still think in my case the low speed bucking/lurching transmission feel experienced was a indication of a long term issue or perhaps a possible failure. From what I have read some folks seem to think 20 models exhibit a different behavior than than 19's. Was it a software change or hardware update?
 

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Not an expert, but would not Subaru have to recertify the powertrain with the EPA with these changes before implementing them?

I believe the reason EPA requires this is because if they did not you would have manufacturers programming the shifting to maximize fuel economy but then delivering cars to customers with different software. Even if there is no change in mileage, I'm under the impression that this type of change would trigger the need to recertify, which apparently is not cheap and is time consuming. Again, I'm not expert but would be interested in learning more.
 
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