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2016 Subaru Forrester hesitates while shifting from R to D

My 2016 Forrester hovers or rolls back for at least 2 seconds after shifting into Drive after Reversing, even though the gear feels fully engagedin Drive and I am stepping on the gas. Consequently I was almost hit by a truck when reversing out of my driveway. I was stuck hovering for 2 seconds before I could drive forward. I brought it back to dealer who said it is “normal” with all makes of new cars. I have not experienced this, nor have my friends. Anyone else experiencing this with Subarus?

Test drive another for a comparative analysis.

If you’re shifting while the vehicle is still moving, don’t. You’re needlessly stressing your drivetrain.

Your engine is connected to your transmission by a fluid coupling device called a “torque converter” (TC). It’s sort of like a bagel cut sideways with vanes in it that move fluid to “couple” the engine and tranny. It allows the engine to run while the car is stopped, and when the drag in the fluid gets too great by accelerating it draws the tranny along until it reaches a predetermined speed wherein a “clutch” takes over. When the engine is running and the car stopped, the energy from the engine is converted to heat energy and dissipated via the tranny cooler. However, shifting from R to D while the vehicle is still rolling overstresses this system. You can get away with it a few times, but do it regularly and you’re in for transmission failure (the TC is considered part of the tranny).

NOTE: the fluid in the TC, being designed to allow a difference in speed between the engine and the drivetrain when the car is stopped, WILL allow the vehicle to continue rolling for a few seconds after such a drastic act. But not forever. You’re asking a fluid coupling device to, by itself, absorb the inertia and change the direction of a few tons of rolling steel. It ain’t designed to do that.

So you back up, pop it into drive, immediately step on the gas, and nothing happens for 2 seconds? Doesn’t sound normal at all. Are you a left-foot braker? Maybe you’re slow getting that left foot off the brake pedal.

Let’s see?

The engine is controlled by the computer, the transmission is controlled by the computer, and the throttle body is controlled by the computer.

On a 2016 vehicle?

What could go wrong?


Like @Barkydog suggested, time to go to the dealer and test drive another 2016 Forester. If it acts normally, they need to fix yours.

There is no TC involved here the transmission is CVT. I believe only Honda/Acura use CVT with torque converter.

I notice hesitation slightly with CVT in my parent 2015 Outback and this may be normal.

I have a 2015 forester and have not seen this problem. I have a habit (bad habit) of shifting into D while the car is (slowly) still moving backwards. But it behaves like I expect, like I have seen in other automatic transmissions.

Question for the experts. In a CVT, how is this handled? I assumed there is a torque converter to handle very low speeds. But andrew says not…

But I agree, go back to the dealer.

Yes, there’s a torque converter on the Subaru CVT. You can see it on the right of this cut away:

thanks texases

An automatic transmission should never be shifted until the vehicle has stopped. The transmissions of today will not hold on a hill at all since their basic design has been changed. I think your transmission is working normal but you should test drive another model just to be sure.

I have a 2016 Forester Touring and it does the same thing. I almost got hit yesterday because I backed out of my driveway, came to a stop and then shifted into Drive. The car sat there for at least two seconds before it moved. I have noticed this problem in the past few weeks, and it doesn’t matter whether the engine is cold or warm. It definitely was not a problem when I purchased it in November. I hope this is not some new “feature”.

I have a 2014 Legacy and it does the same thing, and I always come to a complete stop before shifting. BUT, my 97 Honda Accord did the same thing, as did the 93 Honda Civic we had.

I couldnt agree more with the comments above. That being said…you may be so conditioned from the use and driving of “Normal Automatic Transmissions” that you are waiting for that tell tale “bump” felt in the seat of your pants that basically all other types of Auto trannys will and DO produce when they have engaged Drive and the torque convertor loads up.

If you have a CVT transmission in this vehicle…it may not provide you with that tell tale bump in the seat of your pants yet be fully ready to take off and drive.

Do this…go to a parking lot and reproduce your situation. Go from P to D WHILE STOPPED. Once you are in D…take your foot off the brake…or hell leave it on…and lightly press on the gas pedal. You should not feel a sudden bump…you should feel that the car is wanting to move forward however.

Methinks this CVT is in fact in drive…and ready to go…you just dont know it yet…because it doesnt or isnt able to produce that all too familiar bump in the ass we all get from Torque Convertor Auto trannys. If you notice that you get an rpm increase with no forward movement and THEN a sudden bump forward…then there is something awry.

It very well may be that you just are not accustomed to how this CVT tranny feels…It may be in drive and ready to go…waiting for you. You just didnt get the normal hint to do so?

Just my 2 cents.


Jeannie you have done what is called thread hijacking. You should have started your own. But you have a 2016 so why have you not used your warranty to see if you really have a problem. At least it needs to be documented by the dealer.

I bet these drivers are now beginning their lesson with the CVT… There probably is no telltale “Bump” forward we all get from normal Auto transmissions.

I’d have to agree…if there were ANY perceived issue with a 2016…I’m sure you’re covered and a trip to the dealer could be in order, esp if this turns out to be a real problem.

Im sticking with my CVT theory if no real issue is extant


Mine is a CVT and yes, it has a bump. Not as much as the older geared transmissions, but there is one as pressure builds in the torque converter.

Hmmm…there you have it. Perhaps they are missing this more subtle “bump” ?

Dunno…just a theory.


My 15 forester has a CVT, and it behaves the same as a normal AT as far as I can tell. No delays as reported above, it works fine.

It would be interesting to know what the exact idle speed was on the vehicles that experience the telltale bump…and those where its hard or impossible to detect.

All questions for a dealership somewherez when we are discussing newborns such as these vehicles.