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2017 Subaru Outback 3.6 Limited
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, Subaru Outback Members

I'm trying to understand X-mode better since this is my first Subaru Vehicle with the capability.
I've overlooked the manual and read "if you try to active the X-mode when the vehicle speed is 12 mph/20 km/h it will not be activated."
I additionally read that "if the vehicle reaches 25 mph or 40 km/h more while X-mode is activated, a buzzer will sound once and be deactivated."
With this said, I initially thought the option of X-mode was to apply when there's poor weather and will stay active during the drive.
Can the Members provide me with better insight into their experiences and understanding of the added benefit of X-mode?

Thank you, for your time and effort!
 

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Tungsten 2018 Outback 3.6R Limited w/ES
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Good question!

I asked the salesman during the test drive and he said "it was for going downhill". Not much of an explanation. Then, I read in the manual that it is also for slippery roads. Around our house, the roads are now packed snow that has turned to ice, and is covered by a thin layer of water; an Alberta clipper froze things up :^). I engaged X mode before slowly driving out to the main road that was clear. To be honest, I only felt a slight difference - though it may have been all in my mind. I also tried just using the manual shift mode and staying in 1st gear; that seemed to work just as well.

Maybe someone else ( probably ) has more extensive experience than I do, so I'm also curious in what conditions we should engage the 'X' mode.
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
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11,307 Posts
It makes the VDC system extremely aggressive to help prevent wheel slip.

It also acts as "Hill Decent Control" in steep inclines.

[ame]https://youtu.be/WuG1yivsXGc?t=76[/ame]

This is a good example of the first part. You can see it keeping the wheel that's in the air locking up so that power will transfer to the other one.

The system could possibly compensate this typically either through the VDC or the VLSD system but not as quick as here. The old 4EAT/5EAT Non LSD Subaru would be stuck in that situation and would only be able to beat it by momentum.

Hill Decent keeps your speed low without you having to ride the brakes. It's essentially braking for you if it detects you're going fast. Keeps it very composed although the brake pedal is touchy as a result of the brakes being applied.

You can activate it at low (below 12 mph) speeds and run it up to 25 mph. You can't be going 20 mph and activate it.

In snowy conditions where you can't go faster than 25 mph I would recommend it. It also changes the throttle response some.

If you activate X Mode I also recommend (from experience) turning OFF the traction slip as the systems somewhat fight each other. I also recommend manual mode on the shifter to stop the transmission for hunting for a gear. Control it manually with the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

I also recommend turning off eye sight and lane departure warning in those situations as they can give false positives on snow going over the hood or low hanging branches/shrubs. Same with Rear Auto Braking if possible. High grass can give a false positive.
 

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'15 Outback 2.5i Premium
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2015 owner's manual, pp.7-37, 7-38:

X-mode is the integrated control system of
the engine, AWD and Vehicle Dynamics
Control system, etc. for driving with bad
road conditions. Using X-mode, you can
drive more comfortably even in slippery
road conditions including uphill and downhill.
X-mode has the following functions.

. Hill descent control function:
Using the hill descent control function, you
can keep the vehicle at a consistent speed
driving downhill. If the vehicle speed is
likely to increase, the brake control system
will be activated to adjust the vehicle
speed.

. Driving ability control:
This mode increases the hill-climbing
ability and driving ability as well as
enabling smooth application of torque for
easier control of the steering wheel.
As I read the manual, X-mode will automatically activate the brakes in addition to keeping the transmission in low gear to control speed while descending hills, and more aggressively controls wheel spin, and perhaps adjusts throttle response, when climbing. I haven't really used it, though.

[Edit] As usual... slow on the draw. Thanks, Brucey!
 

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2017 2.5 Touring
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1,412 Posts
Not just slippery.
Deep, deep snow or sunk in soft sand, it works well. Once a little inertia is developed, it isn't needed.
 

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2019 2.5i Limited Forester (hers) (4th Subie), 2014 Impreza Premium (mine)(#5)
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2,298 Posts
Can the Members provide me with better insight into their experiences and understanding of the added benefit of X-mode?
My description to customers is pretty simple.

It's Mountain Goat mode.

Extreme driving conditions. You're on that super muddy road or climbing that dirt road going up the side of the mountain. It remaps the engine, transmission, and drive train into almost like a Low-Low range in a 4WD or a deuce and a half. Then I show the video of the Japanese magazine writers in a Forester going up - then DOWN - the ski slope in Norway. You're not going to use it while you're on a good road, and it won't actually let you turn it on if you're going too fast.

We're working on getting an actual test track built behind our dealership for demo purposes that will include a steep incline.
 

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'18 Outback Touring Dark Blue Pearl 3.6r
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Just wondering if it works in reverse. I back out of my garage and down my driveway which is about 60 ft long and maybe 8 ft higher than the road. I turn in on when it's snow covered but I'm wondering if it's working and what it's actually doing if it does work in reverse.
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
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11,307 Posts
Just wondering if it works in reverse. I back out of my garage and dow?n my driveway which is about 60 ft long and maybe 8 ft higher than the road. I turn in on when it's snow covered but I'm wondering if it's working and what it's actually doing if it does work in reverse.
Works in reverse.
 

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Xmode is like anti skid speed control you set the speed and the car uses power and braking to keep tires rotating at a set speed regardless if a tire slides as long as the tire rotation continues even if it slides you’ll retain directional control.

On a Car without Xmode your using the brakes and anti skid but your not powering the wheel so it will skid easier and have larger changes in rotation speed that can easily be far slower than the vehicle speed plus each tire can be rotating at very different speeds making directional control nearly impossible.

VS Xmode basically keeps all 4 rotating at a constant speed making it much easier to decend a slick road even if tires slip at times.
 

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X Mode Hill Descent Experience

Last Saturday I just replaced my 06 Outback with a 2017 3.6 Touring with 14kmi. What an awesome car but this post is only relative to the X mode. I had read about it and salesman touched on it but wondered about its real world usefulness as some features on new cars don't always meet expectations. No idea I would use it to fullest extent so soon.
We had a formal event to go to in the mountains of south western PA. Nemacolin Resort for those in the area. It was snowing when we left but nothing for a Subaru. After driving over an hour and more snow the farther we went RT 40 up over the summit was closed due to an accident with no indication other than it could be closed for hours. Due to the geography, the shortest reroute was backtracking 20 miles then over the mountain down to Ohiopyle State Park. This road we have travelled in past and it has a pucker factor even when dry. Long steep inclines and declines with multiple hair pin turns. We had no extra clothes, boots etc in the car and getting stuck would not be good.
As we began the biggest of the major descents, there was 4-5" of wet slippery snow on road. An occasional car stuck here and there. Turned on X mode with CVT in 1st gear. I realized the car just kind of took over so didn't touch the brakes or gas. Just steered. It kept adjusting as wheels gained and lost traction the whole way down which took about 20 minutes to go 2 miles. I could not believe how effective the hill descent was under these bad conditions. I am now a believer! I have almost 40 experience driving in bad conditions but will say the car with X-mode did a better and safer job than I could have.
 

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2019 2.5i Limited PZEV, EyeSight, Magnetite Gray Metallic, Black Interior
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It makes the VDC system extremely aggressive to help prevent wheel slip.

It also acts as "Hill Decent Control" in steep inclines.
This. I manage a piece of property for a land trust. It has an old fire road that was first cut in the 1920s by a landowner who planted 50 acres of red pine for timber harvesting. Anyway, the road has several steep sections and has old-school waterbars placed across it. I love using X-Mode to climb this road because any wheel slip is just a repair I'd have to make on the way back down. X-Mode does really well at preventing any slip when climbing over the waterbars. Without it the car makes it fine, but the rear wheels dig up a bit more gravel than when X-Mode is on.
 
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2017 Outback Premium, 2.5l, Venetian Red Pearl
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The Hill Descent Control feature of X-Mode was one of the biggest surprises I had with the Outback. It makes going down steep, slippery or rocky backroads so much simpler and safer.

It's pretty darn cool being able to let the car brake itself at a nice, slow speed on a steep descent. Kind of freaked me out the first time it happened, though!
 

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2018 Outaback 2.5i Limited with eyesight.
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I use Xmode almost on a daily basis to get down my steep, icy unpaved road. This is one the best features I've ever had on a car and I can say from personal experience that it works. IMO this is where Xmode really shines and makes a difference. I have also used it to get up my hill and it does helps but the car will make it up my hill without it. Going down the hill is an entirely different story and without it being enabled (when we first got the car) we lost all traction and went into the ditch at the end of the road -- too bad we didn't bother researching it more before the crash because I'm sure it would have saved us from having an accident.
 

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The video that was submitted by Brucey in January was pretty impressive showing off-Road outback performance. However, the other day I arrived home to find 2 inches of snow in my level driveway and a little 4" compacted berm at the end of the driveway that was put there by the plow going by several times. So I tried to back into the driveway. The back wheels went easily over the berm considering that the front wheels were on bare pavement. However, when it was the front wheel's turn to go over the berm, a car just sat there and grunted and moaned and was basically stuck. I pressed the VDC button to turn it off, and try again. This time the rear of the car slid sideways and I have to make corrective pass at the driveway to get in. This is not at all impressive. I'm kind of wondering if X mode would have been the right solution at this time. However, this is the most trouble I've ever seen a car or have when going over a simple obstacle. If somebody isn't technically into how the Outback works, they get stuck almost anywhere. An ordinary four-wheel-drive system would have walked over the berm problem like it wasn't even there. All this automatic stuff is not impressing me. And let's face it, 75% of Outback owners probably don't know that there is an X mode, or a VDC button for that matter. They just expect that a well rated all-wheel-drive wagon can handle several inches of snow without getting stuck.
 

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2018 Outaback 2.5i Limited with eyesight.
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The video that was submitted by Brucey in January was pretty impressive showing off-Road outback performance. However, the other day I arrived home to find 2 inches of snow in my level driveway and a little 4" compacted berm at the end of the driveway that was put there by the plow going by several times. So I tried to back into the driveway. The back wheels went easily over the berm considering that the front wheels were on bare pavement. However, when it was the front wheel's turn to go over the berm, a car just sat there and grunted and moaned and was basically stuck. I pressed the VDC button to turn it off, and try again. This time the rear of the car slid sideways and I have to make corrective pass at the driveway to get in. This is not at all impressive. I'm kind of wondering if X mode would have been the right solution at this time. However, this is the most trouble I've ever seen a car or have when going over a simple obstacle. If somebody isn't technically into how the Outback works, they get stuck almost anywhere. An ordinary four-wheel-drive system would have walked over the berm problem like it wasn't even there. All this automatic stuff is not impressing me. And let's face it, 75% of Outback owners probably don't know that there is an X mode, or a VDC button for that matter. They just expect that a well rated all-wheel-drive wagon can handle several inches of snow without getting stuck.
I think the issue you describe has more to do with the crappy stock tires if that's what your car is still equipped with. The OB has amazing off road and snowy weather capability with a proper set of snow tires. My OB performs better on snow and ice than my 3/4 ton Chevy Silverado HD with studded tires that I plow my road with...
 

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I think the issue you describe has more to do with the crappy stock tires if that's what your car is still equipped with. The OB has amazing off road and snowy weather capability with a proper set of snow tires. My OB performs better on snow and ice than my 3/4 ton Chevy Silverado HD with studded tires that I plow my road with...
The tires are nearly new Michelin's that are a very well rated all season tire.
 

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2018 2.5i Limited w/EyeSight
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I would also point to the tires as the issue. Our 2018 shod with Hakkas has no issues punching through or plowing over the ~6-9in walls of compacted snow and ice that the plows regularly produce at the bottom of our driveway. Of course approach speed and geometry matters a lot - ymmv.
 

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I would also point to the tires as the issue. Our 2018 shod with Hakkas has no issues punching through or plowing over the ~6-9in walls of compacted snow and ice that the plows regularly produce at the bottom of our driveway. Of course approach speed and geometry matters a lot - ymmv.
You're saying that I need a fancy all wheel drive car wioth real snowtires on all four to climb over a 3-4" lump of snow. Man.....I wish you could see where I grew up and the conditions we conquered with rear wheel drive and recapped snow tires.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R (former)
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You're saying that I need a fancy all wheel drive car wioth real snowtires on all four to climb over a 3-4" lump of snow. Man.....I wish you could see where I grew up and the conditions we conquered with rear wheel drive and recapped snow tires.
And exactly the same will happen if you take a 4Runner Trail/Offroad edition on the stock Dunlop tires. You can put it in 4L and activate the rear locker as well as press the A-Trac button. The journalist who did it still went nowhere while an old Outback passed by as he was waiting for the tow truck.

It is like climbing a peak in winter in flip flops, does not matter how good of a climber you are.
 
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