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2014 Forester 2.5i Prem CVT
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Discussion Starter #1
OK, apologies and thanks in advance to the Mods, because I have given up trying to figure out exactly where this belongs.

My wife and I just bought a 2014 Forester 2.5i Premium w/CVT and w/o X-mode. We're pretty excited. For the most part it's going to be a "keep the family safe grocery getter" BUT we love hiking and camping and getting outdoors and away from everything/everyone.

Given all of that, the enhancement of those interests provided by a legitimate AWD vehicle with a real pedigree like a Forester was a big selling point.

We had initially been focusing our search on '09-'13 Foresters but sort of lucked into our '14. That said, I hadn't really done any significant research on the model year and didn't know anything about X-Mode or the CVT or why it might be important to have both.

I'm not expecting to do any particularly extreme off-roading in our Forester, but part of the appeal was being prepared for the unexpected and being able to ignore the "Off-Road vehicle required" signs at Big Bend. Given that my username most definitely checks out, what are my limits since I don't have X-Mode?

Related questions: Is X-Mode software only, or is there a substantive hardware difference (other than the button) between a Forester with it and one without? If it IS just software, is it something a talented Subaru technician could add if I could find the relevant computer parts and button for the interior?
 

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Premium Member
2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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12,859 Posts
No, you will be able to go pretty much anywhere an X-Mode equipped vehicle would. Your tires might spin a little more. You will have a harder time driving at slow speeds because of the sensitive throttle on the 2.5i models. (X-Mode greatly reduces sensitivity of the pedal.) You might go a little faster down steep hills and will have to control the brakes yourself.

I wouldn't say you have any limitations due to not having X-Mode. Your vehicle still has VDC (traction/stability control) and that will do most of the work that X-Mode would be doing, just not as quick to respond to loss of traction.

X-Mode involves more than just software. There are different hydraulic units and other bits and pieces. Check the discussion here: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f89/installing-x-mode-573370/ The consensus is that it is not worth trying to add it, due to cost and complexity.
 

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2014 Forester 2.5i Prem CVT
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
So, X-Mode makes you go SLOW down steep hills? What fun is that? ;)

Thanks for the quick and comprehensive reply. I'm glad to hear that I don't need to be less confident in my Forester because I don't have X-Mode. I read your everything you need to know thread but I wasn't super clear on what the answer to my question would be even after having read it. Surprisingly, no matter what I typed into Google, it didn't seem like the internet knew the answer to my question.
 

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Subassador
2017 Tacoma DCSB TRD OR 6MT!!!
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929 Posts
I agree with Josh. I had already typed this up before I saw his response, so here are a few suggestions:
1. Try some light trails first to understand what it can do. You might be pleasantly surprised how well a good awd system will work even without X-mode. What got me interested in Subies was seeing a bone stock Forester climb up a deeply rutted road with no hesitation.
2. I always recommend skid plates. They're fairly inexpensive, and an excellent insurance policy. Getting stuck is one thing, but breaking something on a rock can be much worse. We have full armor from Primitive on our 14 FXT that I've "tinked" many times on objects that might've otherwise done some damage. My previous two off-roaders had full skids, too...with dents in them.
3. Tires can make a big difference. In fact, I'd say a good set of tires will do more for you than X-mode.

Finally, just as a reference point, I've taken my 14 FXT up some pretty gnarly stuff with all-season (not all-terrain) tires, and although I've played with X-mode a little on several occasions, I haven't actually needed it yet.

Be careful, but have fun!
 

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2015 2.5i Premium CVT
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256 Posts
I'm in the same situation. But it seems it doesn't really make all that much of a difference. Most of the time. The harder lockup of the center differential is likely never going to be noticed, and most of the time it means just 2 more seconds of wheelspin before the VDC kicks in. I can see a few situations where that might make a difference, but probably only if you are trying some harder trails.

I do wish that we had the manual mode and paddle shifters like the XTs and Outbacks have. That would do more for me to control me downhill speed than either manually applying, or having X-Mode apply the brakes. I'd rather use engine braking than wear and overheat my brakes. But with options of different "gearing" than just the Low that we have.
 

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2014 Forester 2.5i Prem CVT
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Meh. Even without X-Mode it'll be light years ahead of the FWD Santa Fe we had or the Camry we had before that. ;) I had this (probably irrational) fear that in order to get gas mileage up to meet regulations they had created a Subaru that wasn't really a Subaru unless you had X-Mode. Seems I was incorrect and I'm glad to be.
 

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2014 Forester CVT
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36 Posts
I think YOU will be more the limiting factor rather than your vehicle.
Going slow, good tires and common sense will be your guide.....
 

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2014 Forester Ltd. CVT
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1,785 Posts
So paddles don't make that much of a difference; L is pretty good at those slow speeds on cratered forest service roads. I'd actually say L is a little lower than 1; but just barely. I do use and appreciate xmode; it allows me to crawl through stuff in a calm way; but no it's not needed; you can ride the brakes down; and that's what subarus without low gearing have done through the decades.
 
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