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Very Few Buy Subaru WRX With EyeSight, Could It Be The Boring CVT Automatic?

A majority of buyers don’t opt for the 2019 Subaru WRX with EyeSight driver assist. Why don't they want the added safety?


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.

Why CVT?

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


Digitaldoc (not verified)    June 8, 2019 - 7:42AM

Not sure when Subaru (and Honda, Kia, Nissan and others) are going to figure this out, but a CVT is simply not a good transmission for a performance oriented car. They make the engine drone, fake shifts don't really help, and the performance gets sapped from the engine.

CVT's have the general advantages of being:
- cheaper
- lighter
- better fuel economy

BUT, performance pays the price.

It is too bad that Subaru does not have any torque converted auto's in their parts bin in the US, as the BRZ, and WRZ would definitely benefit from a nice 8 spd.

Guillermo Sánchez (not verified)    June 8, 2019 - 8:37AM

The WRX to some extent and the STI way more bring the driver the experience of being connected to the driver experience. What makes that experience possible is the manual transmission. Subaru can built three versions of the car if they don't understand it yet. 1. A WRX with an engine that focuses on fuel economy. 2An STI that can proof to be very reliable with a beautiful rumbling sound , manual transmission and LSDs. 3.An EyeSTI with CVT without the rumble 500HP @ $30K. They can send survey to check with anybody who ever bought a WRX / WRX STI. Without knowing how much power the second version would have, I will consider that one, but never the third. I'll rather buy a Veloster N with a sport package at $30$K than then third proposed option. It's the experience that the driver feels what makes the STI a one car category in itself. The cons are that the car was unreliable for a while. An while the Ford V8 keeps improving in sound and performance, in the STI there is a fear that the next generation if it ever comes will ruin all the competitive advantages that the STI built through the years. How bright look the Harley future with electric motors? You can buy a sex doll that has the perfect measurements to what you consider beautiful, but real person would bring the real experience. It's incredible that Subaru doubts that having found the sweet spot in the 1990s and being able to profit from it with a recipe that has been kept almost unchanged. Change it, yes. 1. Don't loose the idea that people will need to pay for it. 2. Keep the great sound in the case of the STI at least. 3. Keep it manual. Make it a superior competitor to the Veloster N through sound. How many people drive the Tesla just for the fun of driving it? Is it fast? Yes, but that's not the point from the driver enthusiast. Have a nice weekend go drive an STI, feel it and the you know... Fly to Japan, fly the last version start missing the EJ engine experience and then think again, after bring the next WRX versions. How many of us switch from the WRX with the FA-20 to the STI? The experience matters.

Guy (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 12:49PM

When shopping for a WRX CVT I found that between the four Subaru dealerships in my metro area they had a total of TWO cars. You “can’t” sell what you don’t have in stock.

All the perceptions of drivers are important but these stories always talk about emotions and feelings; never about availability.

Kremer (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 3:53PM

I have a '17 WRX and would love the eyesight if it was available with the manual transmission. Similarly the CVT is good, but only once at speed, it is a dog off the line. If the CVT had a mechanical first gear then clutched in the CVT once rolling it could be a very good thing.