More On The CVT - 2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza Long Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza: More On The CVT

September 27, 2012

2012 Subaru Impreza

We've had a few posts now on the Impreza's CVT. Interestingly, all of them mention the manual shift mode. Dan Frio pretty much summed it up with: "Without paddles, [our] Impreza might be a deal breaker for me."

So what's really going on here with the CVT?

Upon initial observation, the CVT works pretty well. The Impreza moves quickly away from a stop. There's not a huge delay when you go for a passing maneuver. And yes, the manual mode does indeed work quite well.

However, there is a caveat in all of this. Whether it?s the tuning of the CVT or the relative underwhelming performance of the new 2.0-liter engine, something here just isn't harmonious. That that the CVT is quite sensitive to throttle inputs is the quality that I've most noticed. Just an extra little bit of pressure when pulling away from a stop can mean the difference between a held 2,500 rpm versus a held 3,200 rpm or so. Why is this important? Well, the 2.0-liter engine gets noticeably noisier above 3,000 rpm, thereby exacerbating the constant droning-rpm nature of the CVT. I've tried getting that sweet spot of acceleration — between boggy slow and too much rpm — but it takes concentration.

In response, I suspect our editors are resorting to the manual mode. (I'd also wager that this might be why we're on the low side for fuel economy.)

Now, this is a minor issue, and Impreza isn't the only car that we've encountered awkward transmission responses (Sonic, Jetta TDI and 7 Series come to mind just from our fleet). But with the general state of cars today being so good, it's the little things that end up standing out more, especially to us.

I think most buyers would be OK with the CVT. But for now I'd get the manual transmission if I were buying. Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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