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I noticed a few people remarking about the slow shifting on the B9 in normal mode. And as many have stated, switch to SPORT mode and it gets snappier.

But I noticed even more subtilties in the transmission and I think I understand why.

What I have noticed is under very light or no throttle load the transmission actually downshifts in 2 steps. It will come up about half way in RPMs to the new gear, then fully engage and raise the RPMs. If you want to check it out switch to SPORT mode, get going and manually upshift a couple of extra gears. Then let off the gas and manually downshift 1 gear. It is slow and soft, and multi-stepped. Why?

We found out exactly why I think they did this. We were driving down from the summit on highway 80 in the huge snowstorm that hit the Sierra last week. The traffic was moving at about 20-30 mph. If you left the car in NORMAL mode you would definitely start to roll faster and faster. Almost all other cars were experiencing this and braking. Dangerous territory with 3-4 inches of snow and ice on the road, on a downhill.

So I switched to sport mode and manually downshifted 1 gear. Slowly the RPMS came up, then raised again. It was a smooth shift. And it was critical, as a quick shift might have resulted in a spin or slide. There was carnage all over the road. Cars spun out. No traction. Flipped over. And the B9 drove through it all with confidence.

So for those who think it might be a flaw, we found it to be purposeful and extremely valuable in very bad driving conditions. Just another validation of this car being a great all weather vehicle. Family agrees its more fun to be in this car in BAD weather than good, as you feel so SAGFE.
 

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That makes sense, the downshifting has never bothered me, I love the way this car handles, its so smooth.
 

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It's also because the ECU learns your driving style and adjusts accordingly...all in the pursuit of better efficiency. Drive very aggressively for a few days and pretty soon, the slow shifting and lag is substantially reduced.

My Toyota Sienna did this and many folks complained until Toyota later revealed that they have this feature in the ECU for fuel mileage and efficiency reasons. My folks on my other Honda forums have also found this to be true as well. Some call it "fuzzy logic" some call it by other names, but the result is the same. Man modern cars these days have this feature built in, whether they advertise about it our not.
 

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We did some testing this past weekend by heading to the mountains. To keep the engine going and to gain momentum while going down the hills, keep it in Normal. If you want engine braking and Subaru's version of "hill descent control" to kick in, keep it in Sport. We used Sport to climb the hills for better shifting.

My wife figured out on the drive back that to maximize fuel mileage and efficency, set the Cruise Control. It will pick the best shift points when going up and down the huge hills. We got 17-19 in Sport/Normal mode w/ the mode mostly in Sport and got 22-23 using cruise control on the way back. Go figure!? LOL. We'll test it in cruise control when we return in a few weeks to check for variences between the to and from trip.
 
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