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Premium Member
2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
X-Mode is new technology designed by Subaru for use on their CVT equipped crossovers, at this time the Forester (2014+) and the Outback (2015+). X-Mode is standard all on USDM 2014+ Foresters other than the Base and Premium level trims and it is standard on all 2015 Outback trims.

X-Mode is activated by pushing a button located on the center console in front of the transmission shift lever. You can push the button to indicate your desire to activate at speeds up to 25 MPH, but X-Mode will not activate until your vehicle speed is below 18 MPH. Once active, X-mode will remain on until you either push the button again or exceed 18 MPH.


So, as we would all like to know, what exactly does X-Mode do?

Here is what we know:

According to Subaru, "X-Mode takes control of the engine, transmission, AWD, brakes, and other components to safely navigate through bad roads, slippery surfaces and even the steepest hills for maximum confidence."

There are two primary components of X-Mode: Hill Descent Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control.

Hill Descent Control
  • X-Mode will use VDC and ABS to control your descent down steep inclines. If the vehicle senses you are going too fast down the hill, it will take over the braking. Hill Descent Control is operational at speeds up to 12 MPH.
  • This can be startling when it happens, because you will lose pedal feel in the brake pedal, meaning it will feel like the brakes failed. This is because X-Mode is applying more braking power than you were. If you push the pedal to the floor, you will override the system and come to a stop as soon as possible.
  • You will also hear a lot of noises while this is happening. The ABS system will be working overtime controlling each wheel's braking as needed. Pulsating and grinding noises, as well as an occasional "burning odor" from the braking and clutch control. This is normal.
  • Once you hit the gas again as you are leveling back out, X-Mode will still be active but the Hill Descent Control will no longer be controlling your speed.
Vehicle Dynamics Control and more
  • Many Subaru vehicles come with VDC, but X-Mode enhances the performance of VDC in limited traction situations. The AWD system on CVT equipped Subarus is improved and it senses more variables than the earlier versions of Active All-Wheel Drive, which primarily focused on wheel speed sensors. Enhanced Active AWD also monitors steering angle, yaw rate, and throttle input.
  • X-Mode will reduce the sensitivity of the accelerator, which gives you more control to finesse your way through low traction situations without spinning the wheels. Torque comes on more gradually allowing for added control.
  • Using an enhanced LSD control, if the wheels do spin X-Mode will almost instantly compensate by braking the slipping wheel and transferring power to wheels with better traction.
  • The CVT is held in a lower gear ratio which helps to generate more power at lower speeds.
  • The front/rear coupling force of the AWD system is enhanced, helping deliver power equally to all 4 wheels. This transfers more power to the rear wheels than there would be with X-Mode off in the same situation. This is achieved by increasing the multi plate transfer clutch operation strength by 25%.

X-mode is operational in all gears, forward and reverse. X-mode also disables functionality of the SI-drive buttons (S/S#) and disables adaptive cruise control (on EyeSight equipped models).

Given all of the known aspects of X-Mode, we now understand why it can be useful in limited traction situations. See the following post for informational videos.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R 5 EAT
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474 Posts
Great opening post, thanks! This was much needed.

I think X-mode is standard on all 2015+ OBs, but I am not 100% sure.
 

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Premium Member
2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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12,787 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Great opening post, thanks! This was much needed.

I think X-mode is standard on all 2015+ OBs, but I am not 100% sure.
Hopefully this helps clear up some of the questions. There was a lot of scattered information on here, but it helps to have everything in one spot.

You are right on the Outback. I updated the original post to reflect that.
 

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2014 Forester 2.0i MT
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17 Posts
cvt & xmode vs mt ?

Has anyone anywhere dared to compare the xmode&cvt versus the manual transmission when going uphill/downhill on slippery slopes ?

If someone can do it, please do - a bazillion kudos your way :)
 

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2014 forester 2.0 xt cvt
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46 Posts
xmode

Hi, just want to know how long (duration) can we stay on the xmode while we doing light offroad? Will it cause any overheat?

If on a situation when we need to spin the wheel do we need to (off x mode) and (off vdc) OR (on xmode) and (off vdc) ?

Thank you.
 

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Premium Member
2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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12,787 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
X-mode on, VDC off does nothing. X-mode is primarily controlled by VDC.

You can run X-mode for a long duration of time. It depends on how hard you are pushing it. If you are driving hard in x-mode, it will get hot.
 

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2014 forester 2.0 xt cvt
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X-mode on, VDC off does nothing. X-mode is primarily controlled by VDC.

You can run X-mode for a long duration of time. It depends on how hard you are pushing it. If you are driving hard in x-mode, it will get hot.
Oh ok thank you
 

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2013 OB 3.6R 5 EAT
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474 Posts
VDC is never off, according to Subaru videos I have seen and to my experience. The only function that goes "off" is the one that cuts power to the engine when slippage occurs. I think, however, that on pre-2009 models the traction control off button did disable more of the system.

Having been to the Canyonlands and the San Juan mnts, I will say that while I would surely like to have X-mode, the two things that can make me prematurely change vehicle are a sharp improvement in approach angle (the Foz's is better than mine but still poor) or an adjustable suspension.

For the time being, I stand by my view that x-mode enhances convenience more than capability, the quicker wheel-braking notwithstanding. However, this is true of those like you and me who actually take the Subies on trails. I am sure that most Subaru drivers just cannot drive their vehicles in tough terrain--to them X-mode will provide a genuine increase in capability. But, again, I am not at all against the system: once x-mode has become available, there is no reason to buy a vehicle that does not feature it. My point is that in terms of climbing and descending steep terrain it is no alternative to low range thus the Turbo (or the H6) remain essential (for climbing).
 

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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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Discussion Starter #13
VDC is never off, according to Subaru videos I have seen and to my experience. The only function that goes "off" is the one that cuts power to the engine when slippage occurs. I think, however, that on pre-2009 models the traction control off button did disable more of the system.
Yes, the VDC off button does not fully disable the system.

I have noted elsewhere that the system will allow for the tail to kick out more, but it does still cut power once you get out a ways. As someone else noted, the slipping front to rear is disabled, but the side to side slip is still functioning with VDC off.

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f62/first-experience-vdc-2014-xt-233922/
 

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Premium Member
2014 Forester XT CVT
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3,535 Posts
VDC/ ABS kick in once your steering wheel turns too much an any directions.

Drifting in the snow we learned you can do it but it will kick you out of sliding it the steering angle is too much.
 

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2014 2.0 XT yes
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2,752 Posts
For the time being, I stand by my view that x-mode enhances convenience more than capability, the quicker wheel-braking notwithstanding.
Off-road driving 4EAT owners probably wouldn't mind having a button that boosts MPT clutch pressure by 25%, which removes most of the front bias from drivetrain.
 

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2014 2.0 XT yes
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2,752 Posts
Nice find.

Some of the footage I've seen before, but there's plenty of new stuff in there.

Looks like they've re-run the "roller and hill" tests on the latest competition, and they still aren't there yet. The Tiguan and X-Trail made it off the rollers though!
 

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2021 Forester Touring
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1,577 Posts
I find it interesting that there are no direct comparisons between Subaru & Jeep.
Jeep has a video where they test "take off" times in the snow. I can't find the video for the life of me. I don't remember if subaru was represented there. Needles to say, nobody bear jeep in that comparison.
 

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Premium Member
2014 2.0 XT yes
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2,752 Posts
Subaru only compares the vehicles that don't perform as well. That is, everyone except Jeep.

That said, I'd be curious how well Jeep's lower-end AWD systems would perform.
 
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