2012 Subaru Impreza: Fun With CVT
December 20, 2012
Last week, after our usual test day, the still-fully-loaded 2012 Subaru Impreza and I picked up Associate Vehicle & Content Coordinator, Rex Tokeshi-Torres, and we scampered up to Streets of Willow. No, we weren't going to take any hot laps in the Impreza.
But we did opt for the Angeles Crest/Angeles Forest Highway cutoff, which is not only quicker than staying on the highway, but a heckuva lot more fun. Even in the not-so-sporty Subie.
The several hundred pounds worth of test gear wasn't doing us any favors on the twisty, mountainous roads, and it was hard to get up enough speed to even need to brake for most corners.
I used the CVT's paddle-shift manual mode quite a bit for the engine braking. Handlingwise the Subie did fine, but powerwise it was pretty pathetic with all that gear. Plus Rex.
When we got to Streets of Willow, the first thing Senior Editor Josh Jacquot asked was, "Did you blow up that CVT?"
"Nope, it worked just fine" I said. At least for a CVT.
Despite much prodding to get Josh to join us on Angeles Forest/Angeles Crest in a particular sports car he was driving on the way back home, he declined. Snow was forecast at elevation. He's smart.
Rex is always up for an adventure, so we pointed the Impreza back over the mountains. At night. In the harsh, pounding rain. Not long after we got onto Angeles Forest, a giant snowplow passed us going the other way. Hmm?
In the end, we only hit rain and fog. But we had to drive a lot slower because of it. So the CVT should've been fine, right?
After I dropped Rex off at his place, suddenly the instrument panel went berzerk with warning lights and the tach jumped to 5,000 rpm at about 70 mph. The most telling of the lights was the AT Oil Temp warning. I slowed way down and nursed the car the few miles left back to my house. Once on surface streets, the CVT was very sluggish taking off from stoplights, acting like it was massively slipping the clutch. And it no longer allowed manual shifting.
Next morning, the four warning lights (plus a flashing cruise control light) were still on, but the transmission was working normally again, including manual mode.
We immediately took it to the Subaru dealer for a look-see. More to come.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 12,274 miles