When to Use X Mode on A Subaru?

Wouldn’t it be nice if your SUV could automatically adjust power based on how rough the roads are? Well, with Subaru’s latest X-Mode transmission system, you can! Simply activate this awesome feature, and you can safely navigate your vehicle over potentially dangerous terrains.

Subaru’s X-Mode should be activated when climbing slopes, driving on slippery surfaces (snow or gravel), or on steep declines. X-Mode consumes more fuel, so you should only turn it on when necessary.

In this guide, I’ll explain in detail what X-Mode is, the X-Mode control forms, and how to activate X-Mode on your Subaru SUV.

What Is X-Mode?

Subaru’s X-Mode is a feature that is available on many of the brand’s all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles. It is designed to enhance the vehicle’s off-road capabilities and improve traction and stability in challenging conditions.

When X-Mode is activated, the vehicle’s computer system automatically adjusts the engine, transmission, and stability control settings to optimize performance in low-traction situations. It also engages the AWD system to distribute power evenly to all four wheels, which helps to improve traction and stability.

In addition to the engine and transmission adjustments, X-Mode also activates Hill Descent Control, which helps to maintain a controlled speed when driving down steep inclines. It also adjusts the ABS (anti-lock braking system) to provide maximum braking power and stability.

X-Mode is a valuable feature for drivers who frequently encounter challenging off-road conditions or who simply want to improve their vehicle’s traction and stability in slippery or uneven terrain. It is a useful tool for navigating through muddy trails, snow-covered roads, and other rough or uneven surfaces.

You will find X-Mode in 2 modes: single and dual.

Single X-Mode

When activated, single X-mode reduces the instantaneous throttle response to limit wheel spin and improve grip. The system then activates additional engine torque to keep the vehicle moving forward. Finally, the limited-slip differential responds much more quickly in X-Mode by dropping your vehicle to a seemingly lower gear than first.

In this way, the maximum torque is delivered to the wheels at a safe and manageable speed. This is analogous to getting going from a complete stop on a dirt road. If you smash the gas pedal to the floor, the wheels will spin, but if you apply steady pressure, they’ll start to pick up speed.

Dual X-Mode

Dual X-Mode does everything single X-Mode can do but also has a Deep Snow/Mud mode. Use this option when you want the wheels to spin a little faster. The goal of X-Mode in this situation is to keep the wheels turning so that the vehicle continues moving forward.

Currently, X-Mode is available in the latest Ascent, Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback model years. Please note that certain SUV models may not have all of the X-Mode Control Forms available.

X-Mode Control Forms

1. Engine throttle

When the accelerator is pressed normally, the throttle opens to allow more air into the engine. In X-Mode, this process is slowed down. The torque is delivered more subtly at first but builds up to a much greater peak later.

2. Transmission

X-Mode maintains a lower transmission gear, increasing the transmission’s ability to transmit the engine’s torque. By using this pattern of shifts while in X-Mode active, the driver can make the most of the available acceleration.

3. AWD

When X-Mode is engaged, the front/rear coupling force is increased, allowing the driver to distribute power more evenly between all the wheels and thereby improving AWD control and improving tire traction.

4. VDC

With X-Mode activated, the Vehicle Dynamics Control System’s Enhanced LSD Control is fine-tuned for maximum performance. If your left and right wheels are acting differently, the system will only apply the brakes to the wheels that are slipping. When X-Mode is engaged, the brakes are applied much sooner than in normal mode.

5. Hill Descent Control

Hill Descent Control is useful for low-speed driving (under 12 mph) because it helps keep the vehicle moving at a steady pace, making it easier for the driver to focus on steering rather than the car’s throttle and brakes.

When to Use X-Mode on a Subaru?

Using Subaru’s X-Mode feature will have an impact on fuel efficiency, although the extent of this impact will depend on various factors, such as the specific vehicle model, the road conditions, and the driving style of the driver.

In general, activating X-Mode causes the vehicle’s computer system to make adjustments to the engine, transmission, and stability control settings in order to optimize performance in low-traction situations. These adjustments may result in the engine working harder and using more fuel in order to generate the additional power and torque needed to improve traction and stability.

That being said, it is important to note that X-Mode is not intended to be used all the time but rather as a tool to help drivers navigate challenging off-road conditions when needed. When driving on normal roads and in normal conditions, it is generally more fuel efficient to keep X-Mode turned off.

You would most likely get the most from Subaru’s X-Mode transmission system in the following scenarios:

Climbing hills

X-Mode shifts to lower gear ratios to generate a balance of power between all four wheels. To mitigate the effects of differential rotation, the transmission control unit (TCU) boosts AWD clutch pressure by 25%. This gives you the steadiness, footing, and forward momentum you need to ascend with ease, resulting in improved traction when climbing steep hills and even on uneven terrains.

Slippery roads

When X-Mode is activated, the traction control system becomes more responsive, shortening the amount of time it takes for a wheel to regain traction after losing it. The improved control and stability are noticeable in any weather but especially in extreme conditions. Here, the wheels that are gaining traction are given a greater share of the power, while the ones that are slipping receive less.

Steep declines

Hill Descent Control prevents the driver from having to apply the brakes and risking them locking up by keeping a constant speed when descending steep inclines at 12 mph or slower. This intelligent system detects changes in the road and applies the appropriate amount of braking force to each wheel automatically.

This is especially helpful in more difficult conditions, such as when the road surface is slippery, rugged, or uneven, allowing drivers to focus solely on steering and navigating around bends. Whenever the driver applies pressure to the brake or gas pedal, HDC instantly stops regulating the speed of the descent.

How to Activate X-Mode

Here’s how you can activate X-Mode in compatible Subaru SUVs:

  1. Start the car’s engine and put it in park or neutral. Alternatively, you can slow your car down to under 12 mph.
  2. Find the X-Mode button in the control panel. In most vehicles, you’ll find the button close to the gear shift lever or the traction control toggle.
  3. Press and hold the button for a few seconds. The X-Mode light on the dashboard should light up, indicating the X-Mode is active. An icon may also appear on your screen if available.
  4. If your vehicle is equipped with Hill Descent Control, you may also need to activate this feature by pressing and holding the Hill Descent Control button (if equipped) for a few seconds.
  5. The tough off-road driving conditions can be tackled once X-Mode is engaged. Keep in mind that X-Mode is not a replacement for safe and alert driving practices.

X-Mode will limit your car’s travel speed to 18 mph. Any faster and X-Mode will automatically disengage, forcing you to slow your vehicle to turn it back on.