What Subaru models still come with a manual transmission? A few years ago, customers could get a Forester, Outback, and Legacy with a manual gearbox. In 2021, Subaru only offers the manual shifter in the 2021 Crosstrek, Impreza, WRX, WRX STI, and 2022 BRZ. But Subaru will drop the manual gearbox in the Crosstrek and Impreza soon.
According to IHS Markit and ZF Group, a recent report from Automotive News (by subscription) says the manual’s market share sits at only 1.2 percent in North America. The reason is partly due to new safety technology in vehicles works best with automatics. Subaru offers EyeSight as standard equipment in all Forester, Outback, Ascent, and Legacy models. But none have a standard transmission.
photo credit: Budds Subaru
The smart safety features can function with manuals, but Subaru has chosen not to spend the money to adapt its EyeSight driver-assist system to work with manual transmissions. They also see the declining customer demand for standard transmissions in Crosstrek and Impreza models.
Anton Pawczuk, a spokesman for Subaru product management, says the automaker’s decision not to adapt EyeSight to manual models was economic. According to Automotive News, in Canada, manual sales the Impreza were 14.4 percent, and Crosstrek was lower at 10.1 percent in 2020.
photo credit: Competition Subaru
“If it’s only 10 percent of your sales and dropping, then your choices are either to improve EyeSight as a technology and make it better for the vast majority of vehicles that have it, or try to create something for the manual,” Pawczuk said.
Torque News reached out to Subaru of America, and a spokesman said they only sell six percent of its Crosstrek models with a 6-speed manual transmission. The other 94 percent get the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission or the upgraded Lineartronic with 8-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters on the new 2021 Crosstrek Sport.
Dropping the manual is also about improved fuel mileage. The Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic gets improved fuel efficiency compared with the manual gearbox.
The 2021 Crosstrek with a 6-speed manual gets an EPA estimated 22/29/25 city/highway/combined mpg. The automatic gets considerably better fuel mileage at 28/33/30 city/highway/combined mpg.
Subaru remains committed to offering manual-equipped vehicles, Pawczuk said, but regulation would force it to decide whether to invest in adapting its AEB for use with manuals.
Will Subaru keep the manual in its sports cars?
Performance enthusiasts don’t need to worry. Subaru won’t drop the manual in its sports cars anytime soon. The BRZ sports coupe manual sales account for 79.0 percent, and the WRX sports sedan are 86.1 percent.
But demand for the manual in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek compact SUV and Impreza sedan and hatchback are dropping steadily. Look for Subaru to discontinue the 5-speed manual in the Crosstrek and Impreza soon. The end is near.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: main image Budds Subaru