Why aren’t many 2019 WRX buyers opting for EyeSight, Subaru’s advanced safety feature? Subaru’s EyeSight monitors traffic movement, optimizes cruise control, and warns you when you’re swaying outside your lane. The pre-collision braking feature can even apply full braking force in emergency situations and has been found to reduce the rate of rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85 percent. Why are only a few WRX buyers buying it?
It’s not that buyers don’t want EyeSight's added safety features on their sport-tuned 2019 Subaru WRX, it’s all about the boring CVT automatic transmission. A majority of WRX buyers are choosing the 6-speed manual gearbox over the Sport Lineartronic CVT. Subaru can’t make EyeSight compatible with the manual gearbox and it’s only available on 2019 WRX Premium and WRX Limited CVT models.
We reached out to Subaru recently, and they told us a full 90 percent are opting for the standard 6-speed manual transmission over the automatic. It’s no surprise because Subaru uses a Sport Lineartronic CVT, (Continuously Variable Automatic) transmission which is not a popular choice with performance enthusiasts. While it’s better than the previous generation CVTs, it’s still not up to speed with a 6-or-8-speed automatic.
Subaru is committed to the CVT because it saves fuel (on most models) and they use it throughout their entire lineup of all-wheel-drive vehicles. The performance-tuned WRX STI is the only model that doesn’t have a CVT option and only comes equipped with a 6-speed manual rower. Many enthusiasts wish for another automatic in the performance WRX similar to the Volkswagen Golf R with the DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox). A DSG, is an electronically controlled dual-clutch multiple-shaft gearbox in a transaxle design, with the automatic clutch operation and with fully automatic or semi-manual gear selection. It’s ideal for a performance sports car, but it would be more expensive.
We’ve driven both WRX with the CVT automatic and the 6-speed manual gearbox gets our pick every time. Surprisingly, we were impressed with the Sport Lineartronic CVT. Would we recommend it to performance enthusiasts? For those who use their WRX as a commuter vehicle in heavy stop-and-go traffic regularly, the 6-speed manual can become tiring day after day. When it comes to fuel mileage, the 6-speed manual gearbox is more fuel-efficient and picks up a 3 mpg gain over the more fuel-thirsty CVT and the automatic is an additional $1,900 option (includes EyeSight).
When performance enthusiasts hear CVT, they run for the nearest exit and WRX purists are buying 6-speed manuals at a 90% clip compared to the CVT. It’s hard to convince buyers to choose the CVT when it gets lower fuel mileage and a $1,900 price bump just to get EyeSight. Not many buyers will ever choose it.
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Photo credit: Patrick Subaru