New CVT In 2010 Subaru Legacy Promises Low Maintenance Costs

June 24, 2009

Last week we reported that the new continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that makes its debut in the all-new 2010 Subaru Legacy will achieve best-in-class EPA fuel economy ratings of 23 mpg city, 31 highway—even when comparing the all-wheel-drive Legacy with other front-wheel-drive four-cylinder sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

But there’s more to this story. The new CVT, which was designed completely in-house in Japan, requires no maintenance whatsoever for the life of the vehicle, say powertrain engineers. Compared to conventional hydraulic transmissions, that could save hundreds of dollars in transmission fluid and filter changes, flushes, and other adjustments.

Subaru officials emphasize that they didn’t take longevity and durability lightly for the new transmission. First owners of the brand’s vehicles typically keep their vehicles for more than seven years on average—much longer than typical—and eventual odometer readings of 200,000 miles or more are not unusual (just check your favorite used-car listings for 12-year-old Legacys if you don’t believe us).

Given the brand’s unique powertrain layout, engineers had a chance to do some things differently than in existing CVT designs—like locate the reverse mechanism well aft of the pulley drive to reduce driveline shocks. And the new transmission uses a chain, rather than the belt used in most existing CVTs.

With the CVT, termed Lineartronic, the 2010 Legacy gets a new Active Torque Split all-wheel drive configuration, employing an electronically controlled, multi-plate clutch system rather than the viscous coupling system of the manual-transmission versions and the Active Torque Split version—with a planetary gear center differential—in models with the six-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic.

We’ve just driven the new Legacy but have agreed to stay mum for a couple of days. Check back with TheCarConnection.com on Friday for full driving impressions and our Bottom Line take on the 2010 Subaru Legacy.

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