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How Subaru scores in top 5 automakers for reliability

The newest Consumer Reports reliability findings are out and Subaru ranks in the top 5 automakers. What emerging trend is not problematic for Subaru?


Consumer Reports (CR) has released their latest reliability findings and a new emerging trend is causing many automakers to drop in the reliability ratings. The report says for the Japanese brands, Subaru was in the top five for reliability along with Toyota and Mazda. The new emerging trend has to do with increased troubles with new Continuously Variable Transmissions that are being used to increase fuel efficiency.

The findings are based on the CR’s 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey that takes into account data from more than 740,000 vehicles. “We’ve seen a number of brands struggle with new transmission technology,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ Director of Automotive Testing. “Many vehicles require repair and replacements because of rough shifting among the gears and slipping CVT belts.”

Subaru has not experienced issues with their new CVT automatics that come in their all-wheel-drive vehicles like the 2016 Outback, Forester, Crosstrek and Impreza models. Subaru redesigned their Lineartronic CVT to elevate efficiency of the Boxer engine and Symmetrical AWD systems used in their vehicles. Their new CVT features a reinforced transmission case and new torque converter.

While many people don’t like the CVT because it seems to endlessly wind up under exceleration, the advantage of the CVT is that it allows the engine to operate longer at a lower speed than conventional automatic transmission systems. A lower engine speed means better fuel economy and it’s why most automakers are using them.

Subaru uses a 6-speed Lineartronic CVT with 6-speed manual mode and paddle shifters on the 2016 Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza and Legacy and Lineartronic CVT with low mode (2.5i Forester models) or 6- and 8-speed manual shift modes and paddle shifters (2.0XT Forester models). The 2016 Subaru WRX gets a Sport Lineartronic CVT transmission with paddle shifters and 6- and 8-speed manual modes.

Subaru engineers have done a good job of blending fuel-efficiency and sporty driving dynamics with their Continuously Variable Transmissions. The new emerging trend that is causing many automakers to drop in the reliability ratings, has not effected Subaru as they are in the top five for reliability in CR’s 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey.

Media source: Consumer Reports


Dennis (not verified)    October 2, 2016 - 2:57PM

...the new emerging trend that is causing many automakers to drop in the reliability ratings, has not effected Subaru... Auto makers should be two words, and instead of 'effected', it should be 'affected'.
Basic English usage.

Jim (not verified)    November 11, 2016 - 9:59PM

I have bought a. Subaru xv 2016 model and. Continually hear negative reports
About the cvt transmission. Has. Anybody had problems.

Martin Baier (not verified)    January 13, 2017 - 4:18PM

I was wondering if anyone new if driving 2014 Subaru Legacy (60k miles) on highway in manual would extend the longevity of CVT?

Gordon Brand (not verified)    December 25, 2017 - 7:33PM

I have a 2018 Subaru Outback. When driving on a level stretch on the interstate, the RPM stays at about 2000. When I go uphill, it may suddenly jump to 2500. Why is that? I thought that as the load increases, the engine and CVT ratio would change seamlessly accordingly to give optimum power as the load increased. Is this a case of reducing optimum performance to make it feel more traditional to the customer?

Greg Oldman (not verified)    January 28, 2018 - 7:07PM

In reply to by Gordon Brand (not verified)

My 2017 has the "fake" gears that are evident under moderate-hard acceleration. When light on the throttle it seamlessly accelerates like a CVT should. When using cruise control it also functions seamlessly, even when going up a hill. Assuming the 2018 is similar, you are correct that Subaru is attempting to make a CVT feel traditional, which I wish they wouldn't. Apparently there were changes made to the CVT for 2018, one of which was making it quieter...not sure about the programmed shift points.

EDWARD BLAIR (not verified)    July 3, 2018 - 11:41PM

whoever wrote this needs to get a clue. Subaru has been constantly under fire for bad CVT transmissions. They had to extend warranties due to bad units. I have a 2018 and it is the worst transmission ever. Subaru does not seem to be able or willing to do anything about it. I do not recommend Subaru and will never make the mistake of buying another!

pony (not verified)    May 27, 2019 - 9:46AM

Consumer reports is absolute dated drek. Canceling my subscription which is a hold over fro the 80s. It has the transmission on the outback rated as 5/5 and has it noted as reliable even though it has 7 major recalls.

Heidi Gluck (not verified)    August 28, 2019 - 11:54PM

I test drove both the Subaru Impreza hatchback and sedan models today at the dealership. Both vehicles made a quite audible knocking sound when I braked at about 25-30 miles per hour. The salesman told me this is normal for a new car and that the brake system needs to be 'broken in' --- something about how a 'groove' needs to be made in the (rotors?) or something. I can't quite believe this explanation.
Can any body shed some light on this issue?