Piston Slap: Justy-fied Freestylin' Over CVTs (PART VI)
TTAC commentator Patrickj writes:
Sajeev, an update:
My 2006 Ford Freestyle that started this series has been traded in after 184,000 miles. It’s replacement is a 2015 Subaru Legacy, so I guess I wasn’t scared off by the CVT.
The reason for getting the Subaru is mostly because of the second A/C failure of the summer in the Freestyle, though it also needed four struts, assorted bushings, and a steering shaft (u-joints doing a weird stick-slip thing). CVT and engine have been been fine to the end, with only two transmission fluid changes.
Patrick’s Freestyle was three years old in the first Piston Slap, starting the “Justy-fied” CVT postings. Are we getting old?
And keep in mind his Freestyle had 75,000 miles back then. With 184,000 miles now, this CVT lived the relaxed life of a more-highway-than-city cruiser. So what does this update mean?
Here are some takeaways:
- Transmission/transaxle fluid changes every 90,000-ish miles are a very good thing (or sooner, better RTFM on that).
- Just because the Internet makes a blanket statement about something (like CVT durability) doesn’t make it true.**
- If you need a cheap set of wheels for a couple of years, higher mileage vehicles might be a better value! Don’t shy away from one — go kick the tires.
- CVTs may be slow to react, but modern 6+ speed autoboxes are rather slow on a factory tune. Considering their fuel efficiency and the ability to keep the engine in its powerband during hard acceleration, are CVTs really that bad?
** Except for Panther Love. That’s totally true.
[Photo courtesy: Shutterstock user Pixel B]
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I remember renting both the Freestyle and the Rogue in 2006/2007. I had each one for two weeks. I now have a 14 Accord with the CVT. As I recall, both the Rogue and Freestyle displayed a lot of "rubber banding" when accelerating. It was quite noticeable, and I could see why many would find it annoying. Honda seems to have eliminated that on the Accord. In fact, the only way I now that it's a CVT is by the lack of shifting.
I have a question that I am too lazy to look up. What is the difference between the CVT in the Freestyle and the Escape Hybrid? We have 2 older ones in our work fleet, and both are over 300K with zero maintenance on the transmission, since it is supposedly a sealed system. I heard at one time that the Freestyle uses belts, and the Escape uses planetary gear sets. Which is the preferred style? Which is better?