Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Subaru outback CVT

I own a 21010 Subaru outback with the CVT transmission

When in D (drive) and I downshift using the paddles, for example from 6 to 4 ,the transmission stays in that gear even when you accelerate or decelerate, for 30 - 35 seconds, this can be a problem when trying to merge into traffic since the transmision should downshift to 3 or 2 when you step on it.

any suggestions??

When you override the Drive position by using the paddle shifters, the transmission is programmed to stay in the selected gear for a specific amount of time before upshifting or downshifting.

Why not just leave it in Drive, without doing any “paddle shifting”?

My suggestion is for you to READ YOUR OWNERS MANUAL.

Your transmission is functioning exactly the way it was designed to.
If you would read your owners manual, you would find out that this is expected behavior.


Think about that for a while.


I don’t know your car specifically, but most likely once it’s in manual mode, shifting is up to you (unless the safety features kick in to avoid stalling or redlining). Does something in the owner’s manual lead you to believe otherwise?

Actually, I don’t think that the OP is using manual mode.
On the newer Outbacks, in addition to using manual mode, one can downshift with the paddles. The difference is that when doing this while in Drive, the downshift is temporary, and the trans will automatically upshift shortly.

That sounds like something a person driving a manual might say if they down shifted then complained that is what the transmission actually did. It sounds like it behaves like a manual and does not down shift further like an ordinary auto.

none of this is correct

1- when in manual I have to use the paddles to shift up and down.

2- when in D the display shows “D” when I down shift for example to 5, the transmission stays 5 for about 20 - 30 seconds and then returns to “D”, so it looks like it acts like its in Manual mode for those 20-30 seconds; during that period when I step on it the transmission does NOT downshift but stays in 5 which means I have no power and the car accelerates very sluggish, after that period the the display goes to “D” again and the car accelerates normal

Aa long as you have the option to shift back into drive at any time where the transmission can then down shift for you, what is the problem ? If the transmission makes you wait 30 seconds before allowing you to shift back into drive, that would be a serious design flaw.

Dagosa, according to his post, it only makes him wait before IT shifts on it’s own.

There’s nothing stopping him from shifting himself.

Since you already told us how it’s designed to run, and what you feel is the problem (which is what it was designed to do), then maybe you need to replace the car for one that does exactly what you want?

My suggestion: leave it in drive, and don’t touch the gimmicky paddles…or learn to drive in manual mode like everyone with a manual has to.

I think it’s time to repeat Blade Cutter’s advice from a couple of days ago:


The transmission is acting exactly as it was designed to do.

my other car has a manual shift transmission ( citroen 2CV )
The manual does not mention this situation

Then, I wouldn’t use the paddle shifters unless in the manual mode if this situation is bothersome. You may have a need to engine brake go to manual first if 30 sec is too long to wait. What does the dealer say?

"my other car has a manual shift transmission ( citroen 2CV )
The manual does not mention this situation "

If you are referring to the car frequently described as “France’s Model T”, I really hope that you are kidding when you are comparing the functioning of the manual transmission on this extremely primitive old car to that of an automatic/CV transmission on a modern car featuring electronic controls for essentially every system on the car.

Surely you jest if you believe that there is any mechanical or functional similarity between the manual trans on your old 2CV and the CVT on your new Subaru.

obviously bladecutter andvdcdriver have no idea what i am asking

again: when I use the paddles to shift down or up in “D” for example to “4”, the transmision stays in that gear too long so if I want to accelarate it stays in “4” when it should downshift to “3” or "2"
VDCdriver I am not comparing these bu just leting know that I am used to a manual shifter

Again, if the manual does not mention it, WHAT does the service department at the nearest Subaru dealership say when you voice the same concern ? Can you just shift it back into D and get it to downshift by pushing down on the pedal within 30 seconds to avoid the delay. If you can, I must say, what is the problem ? Just shifting it back and forth between D and 4 as needed seems to a solution. Canaveral, we have a communication problem.

It’s a CVT, it doesn’t downshift when in D. You step on the gas, the RPMS shoot up to around the HP peak of the engine, ususally around 5 or 6 thousand RPM and it stays there until you let off the gas or you the reach max speed. There is no upshifting and there is no downshifting with a CVT. This is not a typical automatic transmission with fixed gear ratios. When you use manual mode, there are several “vitural” gear ratios that the transmission has. You shouldn’t be using the paddles when the transmission is in D.

It sounds like it’s performaning as it’s intended to do.

After you use the “paddle” for one downshift, what happens if you use the paddle again to downshift again, say down from 4 to 3 and another paddle down to 2?

The CVT in the Citroen is set up completely different from the Subaru, same basic system but a whole lot different designs and operation. So, you really can’t compare them.

The “electronic” brain of the Subaru is simulating these shifts and moving the CVT belts to the correct preprogrammed ratios. When you use the paddles you override the auto system as programmed and you take control of the shifting. The paddle should allow more downshifts and it is up to the driver to find the right gear for the situation at that point.

FoDaddy…“It’s a CVT, it doesn’t downshift when in D”

I do believe they do. We have one in our family and it upshifts and downshifts in every sense of the word. It does it continuously and automatically depending upon the load. It’s acts like a regular auto but with an infinite number of gears between two endpoints, the highest and lowest gear ratios. It does down shift. The paddles just lock the transmission into predetermined ratios like the Man from “Uncle T” says.

What I meant is that it doesn’t downshift in the traditional sense. It’s not really changing cogs or anything.