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If you often drive on slick or gravelly surfaces, consider a Subaru SUV. New Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, and Ascent models come standard with a unique performance feature. What is Subaru X-Mode, and when should you use it?

What is X-Mode?

Subaru X-Mode
2023 Subaru Outback | Subaru of America, Inc

Different types of terrain and conditions call for varying amounts of vehicle traction. That’s especially true for off-roading and traversing slick surfaces. 

That’s where Subaru X-Mode comes in. This feature allows drivers to adjust their vehicle’s gear settings to what they need at any given moment. To activate it, press a button and select the desired mode.

X-Mode has only two settings, so drivers don’t have to sweat deciding between numerous options. They are Snow/Dirt Mode and Deep Snow/Mud Mode. In addition, hill descent control makes going downhill less stressful on steep roads.

When should you use Subaru X-Mode?

The key to using Subaru X-Mode successfully is knowing when to use each mode. Thankfully, it’s not complicated.

Snow/Dirt Mode is for slippery conditions and loose gravel. This mode “simultaneously controls engine output and throttle response to minimize wheelspin and alters the Symmetrical AWD system’s torque split to direct power to the wheels with the most grip,” Subaru Drive explains.

A bonus to Snow/Dirt Mode is that it activates the hill descent control. It slows the vehicle without your having to ride the brakes when going downhill. 

More extreme situations call for Deep Snow/Mud Mode. This mode will let the wheels spin as needed, so you won’t need a tow truck to get you unstuck. 

Some Toyota models also include X-Mode

Once upon a time, X-Mode was available only on Subaru vehicles. But it’s not uncommon for rival automakers to team up to build cars. That’s the case with Subaru and Toyota.

One of their collaborations is the 2023 Toyota bZ4X. Toyota’s first all-electric vehicle comes with X-Mode, making it the first non-Subaru model to include the feature. The bZ4X has several perks that make it ideal for light off-roading. 

One is a waterproof battery, so you don’t have to worry about the battery dying as this crossover SUV powers through massive puddles. It even has a wading depth of 19.5 inches. The low-speed grip control is also perfect for light off-roading. 

Other standard or available features are all-wheel drive, a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, and Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. 

Subaru and Toyota aren’t done collaborating yet. The two are working on the Solterra, Subaru’s first production EV. 

The Subaru Solterra borrows details from the Toyota RAV4 and uses the same platform as the bZ4X. The Solterra and bZ4X’s exterior and interior are similar, but a closer look reveals tiny differences, such as the wheel size. 

In addition to including X-Mode, the Subaru Solterra will offer Eco, Normal, and Power driving modes. It will also boast an AWD drivetrain typical of most Subaru models. So expect the all-new Solterra to provide excellent light-off-roading capabilities.


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