When you think of Subaru most people think of the brand’s excellent all-wheel-drive system and its stellar safety scores. But there are three other important features on every 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Ascent that are the most misunderstood. Every time you get behind the wheel, you’ll feel two, but you can’t see them. They are the Boxer engine, CVT automatic transmission, and paddle shifters you see located behind the steering wheel.
Why does Subaru use the Boxer in every model they make when no other automaker except Porsche uses it? The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is loathed by many, so why does Subaru use it over a more conventional automatic gearbox? Why does Subaru feature steering wheel paddles on all three models?
The Boxer engine is used in every model in the stable
Subaru started using the first Boxer engine on May 14, 1966, in the Subaru 1000 mini car, and now the unique engine powers every model in its entire lineup. Without getting too technical there are good reasons why Subaru uses it exclusively.
The Boxer uses a horizontally-opposed configuration placing the pistons 180 degrees apart. This gives the powerplant a lower, flatter profile over conventional 4-cylinder V-type or transverse engines. This gives the engine and the whole vehicle, a lower center of gravity.
Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent, Crosstrek have extra ground clearance
Even with a higher ride height (8.7-inches), Forester, Outback, and Ascent all have more balanced weight distribution, giving the all-wheel-drive models improved handling and poise over the completions SUVs. The design also produces reduced engine vibration and noise, even under power.
One little known fact about the Boxer is that it improves safety in the SUVs. In the event of a head-on collision, the engine slips under the car stopping the engine from entering the passenger compartment to protect occupants’ legs.
The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is loathed by many, so why does Subaru use it over a more conventional automatic gearbox? First, Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT reduces fuel consumption over a conventional automatic. The gearbox also produces more responsive acceleration by automatically moving between a span of gear ratios to keep the engine at its optimal rev range for the conditions and the way you drive.
Subaru says they use the Lineartronic because it pairs well with the brand’s Symmetric all-wheel-drive system by preserving the vehicle’s momentum lost in gear changes in other transmissions. Lineartronic helps maintain traction by continuously providing power to the wheels at all times keeping from getting stuck.
The most misunderstood and often overlooked feature in the 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Ascent SUVs are the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. They offer the driver greater precision when you are climbing a hill or needing to pass another vehicle quickly. It allows you to make the best use of the CVT’s gears.
Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!
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Photo credit: Subaru USA