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Forester 2010 XT manual vs automatic transmission

mcm62mcm62 Posts: 4
Hello. I am about to change my Impreza for a new Forester XT 2010… I am undecided between the manual and the automatic.
I have heard the manual does not take good advantage of the torque available while the automatic does. But also heard the 4 speed automatic it’s an outdated transmission and does not offer good power ratios especially downhill.
Any recommendations?
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Comments

  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,432
    edited March 2010
    I'm going to assume that your in the US, so I'll be the bearer of "bad" news (or maybe good since it makes the decision easy).

    The XT (Turbo) has not been available with a manual transmission since MY 2008 year; it's been exclusively 4 speed automatic since MY 2009.
  • mcm62mcm62 Posts: 4
    Hello and thanks for your comment.
    I am in Colombia and here we have the option of both Auto and Manual for the 2.5 XT.
    I am looking for the transmission that will most efficiently use the car´s torque distribution.

    This is what the Forester´s specifications brochure say:

    Continuous All-Wheel Drive
    Models equipped with 5-speed manual transmission utilize a viscous-type locking center differential with torque distribution normally configured at a 50/50-split front-to-rear. If wheel speed differs between front and rear axles, the system helps distribute power to the wheels with the most traction.

    Active All-Wheel Drive
    Models equipped with 4-speed automatic transmission utilize an electronically controlled variable transfer clutch to distribute power to where traction is needed. Sensors monitor parameters such as wheel slippage, throttle position and braking, to help determine torque distribution and direct it to the wheels with optimum traction.

    What are your thoughts?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You win!

    Is this the new bodystyle? Or the older, boxy design?

    Get the manual. Are you kidding? That would be awesome...
  • mcm62mcm62 Posts: 4
    Hi, it’s the new body style…. But let me tell you that I did not mind the older design. Actually I liked it better, but I am getting comfortable with the new design every day. I plan to change the grill and audio system.
    The only worry that I have is the efficiency of the torque since I have an Impreza with the Low shifter and it’s awesome at low speeds.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I drive an XT manual the first year they came out here in the USA, and those things were ridiculously quick.

    They relaxed the gearing a bit but it was still always very, very quick.

    I'd test drive another if they brought it back.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited March 2010
    "... I am about to change my Impreza for a new Forester XT 2010… I am undecided between the manual and the automatic. I have heard the manual does not take good advantage of the torque available while the automatic does. But also heard the 4 speed automatic it’s an outdated transmission and does not offer good power ratios especially downhill. Any recommendations?"

    For the naturally aspirated engine, the 5-speed manual is always better than the 4-speed automatic for being in the best gear.
    The 4-speed automatic is not a very good match for the naturally aspirated engine, which does not have the power to accelerate in 4th gear without a downshift. The engine could really use a 5th gear to provide better ratios.
    On the other hand, the 4-speed automatic is a perfect match for the XT turbo engine, which has so much torque it doe not need 5 gears.
    And since 2009 the Forester XT only comes in automatic.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    CR tested both and the manual was not only quicker, but also got 2mpg more mileage.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    Not surprising, as on the same engine, a manual 5-speed will always be faster and get better mileage than an automatic 4-speed.

    But the Forester is almost unique in having an automatic transmission that is very poorly matched to the engine for performance and pleasure. It cries out for Subaru's 5-speed automatic offered in some of the other models.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I only said that because the EPA numbers for the manual aren't better than for the auto.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    the Forester is almost unique in having an automatic transmission that is very poorly matched to the engine for performance and pleasure.

    :confuse: The reviews I've read have almost all been favorable. They may complain about the lack of a 5 or 6-speed but it doesn't affect the performance. And although I want a manual, I certainly couldn't fault the 4-speed during my test drive.

    -Frank
  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    My wife has had her '09 F-XT (4-speed auto) for almost two years. It has performed flawlessly. It is well mated to the turbo, (particularly if the tranny is put in sport shift (instead of plain Drive) for higher RPM shifts).

    Adding a 5th gear would accomplish nothing.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The non-turbo is geared a bit shorter (the final drive ratio is numerically higher). It's smooth and shifts seamlessly, but I wouldn't mind fewer revs at high speeds.

    So a 5th ratio could lower cruising revs for the non-turbo engine a bit.

    Never mind, though, because Subaru is more likely to use a CVT instead, so then we'd have to look at the gearing range. On the Outback, the tallest gear is WAY more relaxed than the Forester, base or turbo.

    So bring on that CVT.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited April 2010
    "The reviews I've read have almost all been favorable. They may complain about the lack of a 5 or 6-speed but it doesn't affect the performance. And although I want a manual, I certainly couldn't fault the 4-speed during my test drive."

    I have a 2008 Forester with 18,000 miles, bought new and in perfect condition. The 4-speed automatic has these faults:

    1. Flooring the accelerator in 4th at 60 mph results in a pause while the transmission considers whether you really do want a downshift all the way to 2nd. Continued pressure on the throttle eventually convinces it. There is a harsh downshift to 2nd, because at 60 mph it requires high RPMs. The RPMs reach redline in a second, followed by an upshift into 3rd, where you wanted to be in the first place. By now precious seconds have been lost in this detour through 2nd gear. If you are trying to pass a car on a 2-lane road, what seemed possible is now unsafe, as you are hung out facing an oncoming car. You won't do that again.

    2. In a variation of the above, when on cruise control ascending a steepening hill in 4th at 60 mph, the transmission will downshift to 2nd to maintain speed, with the RPMs shooting briefly to redline. Very startling to the driver and passengers who don't expect it.

    3. When coming to a rolling stop, and quickly needing more power out of it, the transmission is caught between gears. At the application of power, the transmission is still downshifting internally, and goes into 1st under power and rising RPMs, causing a jerky engagement. The delay is unsafe, and the jerk can't be good for it.

    The first two faults are only with the naturally-aspirated 170 HP engine, and are because of the lack of a 5th gear to reduce the spread of ratios. At 60 mph in a 5th gear, a full throttle downshift would go to a 3rd gear with less commotion longer use of the gear.

    As noted, the 4-speed automatic is a good match for the turbo 235 HP engine, which has the torque to accelerate the car without needing a downshift to 2nd.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    edited April 2010
    The first two faults are only with the naturally-aspirated 170 HP engine

    Oh, I thought we debating the merits of the XT's 4-speed :confuse: Still, those situations don't sound confidence inspiring. They do however point out one of the manual's advantages... the ability to row your own gears and select the optimal gearing for a given situation, without having to step thru intermediate gears.

    Juice, have you noticed the same issues with your non-turbo Forester?

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not really, but I tend to roll in to the throttle gradually rather than flooring it. That tends to commend a shift from 4->3, which is fine for every situation I've encountered. Plus we have kids in the car so it's not like we're racing.

    The Mid Atlantic isn't hilly, but I've never had it shift to 2nd while using cruise control. In fact I'd say even a shift to 3rd is uncommon. That may differ in the Rockies with a trailer in tow, of course.

    #3 puzzles me a bit, because I sense that hesitation in the Toyota's transmission, but not the Subaru's.

    The Sienna is in 4th, you let off the gas for a speed bump, and it goes in to fuel miser mode, but doesn't shift. So after the speed bump you hit the gas and it's in the wrong gear. It shifts from 4 to 3, then from 3 to 2, and 10 minutes later you accelerate past the speed bump.

    The Forester doesn't hesitate like that at all.

    And that's something I encounter every single day because we have 5 speed bumps on our street!

    The Sienna has more ratios (5), but our Forester is much better at choosing ratios and shifting without delay.

    These are adaptive transmissions so it's possible we'd have different experiences. I'm quite happy with the trans. I'll take more ratios but I would not trade the one in my Subaru for the one in my Toyota, not by a long shot.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... I tend to roll in to the throttle gradually rather than flooring it. That tends to commend a shift from 4->3, which is fine for every situation I've encountered... it's not like we're racing... I've never had it shift to 2nd while using cruise control. In fact I'd say even a shift to 3rd is uncommon. That may differ in the Rockies with a trailer in tow, of course..."

    Like you, I am a very gentle driver. And at 67, I am not a racer, either. But when a traffic opening or a turn into traffic demands quick acceleration after a rolling stop, the 4EAT is caught napping between gears. And when passing a car on a rural 2-lane road with a short sightline, the tendency is to floor it to ask for max power and the least exposure in the passing lane.

    I have towed a utility trailer locally, but never been to the Rockies. The dramatic downshifts on CC occurred in the Appalachians.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    caught napping between gears

    Honestly that's never happened with ours.

    With the Sienna, absolutely, so I know what that's like.

    This is in suburban driving. We take the van on long trips, and in the city and busy urban areas I drive my Miata.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,269
    My '96 would make the 4-2 jump regularly when performing passing maneuvers, but it did so quickly and reliably. I appreciated that and passed with confidence even in relatively tight situations. On the other hand, the car would also sometimes do this with the cruise set when climbing a steep hill, and that was annoying to me as it seemed like overkill, but the solution was to dump the cruise to offer a bit more leniency with the car's speed.

    Granted, I have never driven an XT (manual or auto), so my relatively fond opinion of the 4EAT with the NA 2.5L might change with the added perspective of driving the turbo.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited April 2010
    My complaint with the 4-2 jump is not so much the delay in shifting, but the distracting commotion and cumulative time lost in the downshift, into a gear that is almost immediately redlined beyond usefulness, followed by an upshift. If starting the pass at 60 mph, I have been advised to plan ahead, and manually slip the shifter into 3rd before accelerating hard.

    I, too, now turn off cruise control on long hills that begin to load the engine, and I take manual control to either allow the car to slow to avoid the unpleasant downshift, or to make it downshift when I want to.

    I have driven an XT automatic for a short distance, and read accounts by owners. The high torque allows them to stay in gear under acceleration, with less need of downshifting to raise the RPMs. So the turbo engine is a better match for the 4 speed automatic than the naturally aspirated engine.
  • medic481medic481 Posts: 32
    edited August 2010
    I just returned from my first road trip in a Forester with the non-turbo and 4 speed AT. All I can say is, Subaru, get your act together and get rid of the 4 speed! Going up long hill climbs (I-15 in San Bernardino Co, CA) with the tranny constantly dropping to 2nd and revving the engine every 10 seconds to maintain speed is really annoying and harkens back to the 70's. It's time to dump that dog and put in a 5 (good) or 6 (better) speed AT. I like the Forester in almost all other ways, but that 4 speed leaves me regretting my purchase. :mad:
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