Paddle (Manual) Shift a CVT

Why or when to (paddle - manually shift) my 2010 Outback?

The paddle shifter mimics the action of a 6-speed transmission.
If you don’t want the CVT to select the gear ratio that it considers to be appropriate at any given time, then you can use the paddle shifter to override the CVT’s actions. However, since the CVT is designed to optimize fuel economy, overriding the CVT’s predetermined ratio will have a negative impact on your mpg.

If I had a CVT, the only time that I would use the paddle shifter to override the CVT is when descending a steep grade, in order to achieve engine braking…and I might choose to override the CVT when ascending a steep hill.

Doesn’t your Owner’s Manual have a discussion of this topic?

I have played with the shifting so far on mild downhill grades. I live in UT, are there any advantages of using it in the snow or just leave it up to the computer?
Thank You.

P S The Subaru owners manual needs to be proof red by someone that has never had a CVT, and the hill parking brake cut out tool. Some diagrams and pictures were also poor.

CVT doesn’t always mean better MPG than the same car with a conventional automatic. The Ford 500 is a good example of this, it could be had with 6 speeed automatic or a CVT, both models used the same 3.0L V6. The CVT was rated for about 1 MPG less than the automatic version.

On the 2010 Outback, with the same 2.5 liter engine, the EPA ratings are as follows:

Manual Transmission–19 City/27 Highway
CVT–22 City/29 Highway

There is no “conventional” automatic transmission available with the 2.5 liter engine.

“The Subaru owners manual needs to be proof red”

Sometimes, the same can be said for posts in this forum!


As to driving in snow, generally speaking you should be in the highest possible gear for a given road speed in order to minimize traction problems. Since this transmission is programmed to allow for maximum fuel economy, it will attempt to be in the highest gear possible.

Let the CVT upshift itself. Don’t attempt to keep it in a lower gear.

Subaru went the opposite way using CVT in place of the automatic in the 2010 Outback/Legacy. The car is substantially larger yet achieves better MPG from the previous generation.

The MPG for Legacy (sedan) is very impressive. It is on par with Honda Accord/Toyota Camry and has AWD in addition. No more “AWD” fuel penalty in Subaru’s case with CVT.

I believe that testing comments included the observation that best results were achieved w/0 using the paddle-manual. It seems to relegate it for most use other than engine braking, as a “pacifier”. In addition, Subaru’s official line is that it’s maintenance free, will save $$$$ w/o fluid changes over the life of the car, and is designed to outlast the rest of the mechanics.
That’s either saying a lot for the transmission, or little for the rest of the car.
I think it will continue to catch on. I like the CVT (hydrostatic) concept on my tractors (though different in design and manual).

The CVT is not an option for the 6-cylinder models.
Those models use only the 5-EAT transmission, allegedly because the CVT cannot stand up to the torque of the 6-cylinder engine.

For now maybe ? I’d like to think they can engineer it in short order, maybe with the diesel too…please !

When you need more power to climb a hill, pass a car or for a thrill(gets old). No need to worry just an add on to make the car a little more “exciting” for a select few buyers.

Subaru of America has issued a statement to the effect that, if the diesel engine is offered on US models, it will only come with a 5-speed manual transmission. Again, it is an issue of torque, apparently.

The CVT was only an option in the AWD version of the 500. It’s the AWD not the CVT that accounts for this loss in economy. I can’t think of a situation where CVT doesn’t improve MPG. I leased a 500 with a CVT, was surprised considering it’s a Ford. Own a 2011 Subaru Outback with a CVT, and really wish I could get some good insight into engine braking with a CVT. But haven’t found any yet.