2018 Subaru Outback, 2018 Subaru Legacy, 6-speed manual transmission option

Subaru’s Canadian-Spec Outback and Legacy are Here; Where’s the 6-Speed Manual?

The Canadian-spec 2018 Subaru Outback and Legacy models have arrived but the 6-speed gearbox is missing. Would you buy a manual transmission if it were still offered?

The manual transmission is going away in the Outback wagon and Legacy sedan models. Subaru Canada is dropping the 6-speed gearbox in the new 2018 Outback and Legacy sedan and it’s not coming back. Subaru went away from the manual rower in U.S. models in 2015, but you could still get one in Canada until now.

Why is Subaru and other automakers dropping the manual gearbox?

It’s likely because of tighter fuel mileage regulations in the U.S. and Canada. Subaru dropped the 6-speed standard gearbox back in 2015 to meet the more stringent fuel-mileage regulations here in the U.S. market. Subaru Outbacks and Legacy models with the new Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) are more fuel efficient.

The Canadian and U.S. Subaru Forester SUV is still available with a 6-speed manual transmission in the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium trims, but the CVT is much more fuel-efficient. The Subaru Forester with a 6-speed manual gearbox gets an EPA estimated 22/28 city/highway mpg, and it gets improved considerably at 26/32/ city/highway mpg with the CVT automatic. All automakers need to get their fleet mpg up and this is how they can do it.

CVT is improving

We aren’t fans of the CVT but the Subaru automatic is improving, like the updated Continuously Variable Transmission in the new Crosstrek. Subaru says engineers expanded the ratio coverage (speed range) in the automatic transmission that will improve acceleration performance, and fuel economy will be improved at higher speeds. Engineers also reduced the weight of the transmission case by 7.8kg.

We recently drove the newly-revamped 2017 Impreza compact, and were impressed with its new CVT. Most CVTs wind up relentlessly sounding like a jet plane taking off. The Impreza’s upgraded automatic shifts more like a conventional automatic which is a welcome change. You can still get Impreza with a 5-speed manual rower and an STI short-throw shifter for driving enthusiasts. But the automatic is much improved over the previous-generation model.

If you want a 2018 Outback or Legacy sedan with a manual gearbox, you are out of luck. You’ll need to buy a new 2018 Forester, Crosstrek, Impreza, WRX/STI, or BRZ to get one.

Fan poll. How many of you would still buy a manual gearbox over the CVT automatic if it were available in the new 2018 Outback and Legacy models?

Photo credit: Subaru CA

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