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The 7 Best SUVs In The Mud This Spring And Why Subaru Ranks Number One

Which small-to-midsize SUVs are the best on muddy roads? Check out the 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek features that set them apart.

March 20 marks the first day of spring, and mud season begins in the high country and back roads. Which SUVs are best when the snow melts and the mud gets deep? A new report from Kelly Blue Book lists the best cars and SUVs for the snow and mud and the features you need. The 2022 Subaru Forester and 2022 Outback are two of the best according to KBB’s ranking.

But one feature sets the Forester compact SUV and Outback midsize SUV apart from the competition. The Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek’s feature could be the difference between getting stuck and needing a tow truck or making it out safely.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

KBB says the seven best mainstream (non-luxury) small-to-midsize SUVs for driving in snow and mud are the Ford Bronco Sport, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Kona, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Subaru Forester, Subaru Outback, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

What sets the Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek apart?

But the 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, and 2022 Crosstrek feature dual function X-Mode that sets them apart from the competition.

Subaru Corporation developed a new setting for the three SUVs specifically for deep mud. The 2022 Forester Sport, 2022 Outback XT, and 2022 Crosstrek Sport and Limited feature a new dual-function X-Mode with a deep mud mode setting. The 2022 Forester and Outback Wilderness feature an even more advanced dual-function X-Mode for extreme conditions.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

The Japanese automaker designed the new dual-function X-Mode to get owners further away. Regular X-Mode can be used in everyday commuting, especially in wet, icy, and deep snow in the spring. In Evergreen, where this writer lives, just had two feet of wet white stuff. And mud is not far behind as the temperature warms up.

When do you use dual function X-Mode?

You can use regular X-Mode in any conditions where you need more traction. Subaru developed dual-function X-Mode in 2022 Forester Sport, Outback XT, and Crosstrek Sport and Limited, which allows you to dial in the right amount of traction for whatever conditions you encounter this spring.

The new dual-function X-Mode has two settings, Snow/Dirt Mode and Deep Snow/Deep Mud Mode. In ice, snow, and wet conditions, Snow/Dirt Mode simultaneously controls engine output and throttle response to minimize wheel spin and alters the vehicle’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive torque split to direct power to the wheels that need the most grip.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

Selecting Snow/Dirt Mode also engages the Hill Descent Control feature. Hill Descent Control keeps the Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek at a slow, even pace without applying the brake, allowing the driver to focus on steering, not braking. The setting is ideal on slick, heavy wet, snowy roads when heading downhill.

Deep Snow/Deep Mud Mode

When you get off-pavement, you can encounter deep mud on the trail. You want some wheel spin to help get you out of a dicey situation in deep mud. When faced with deep mud or snow conditions, selecting this mode allows some wheel spin, when needed, to prevent the vehicle from becoming stuck. This setting will get you to your destination safely.

If you are like many outdoor enthusiasts, you can’t wait to get away from the city after the long winter. As the snow melts this spring, the 2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, and 2022 Crosstrek will get you through muddy roads with the new dual-function X-Mode. The new Forester Wilderness and Outback Wilderness trim levels are for outdoor enthusiasts who want to get further away.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru of New England


Mark Wilkinson (not verified)    March 20, 2022 - 6:23AM

I have owned 3 Subaru Foresters quickly realised that they had excellent off road capabilities. With permanent AWD and no computers trying to control the traction they were the best field machines. They were right up there with Land Rover Defenders, as a farmer (76yo) I believe my brain & knowledge are far better than any kid sitting in an office!

Gulo (not verified)    March 22, 2022 - 10:04AM

In reply to by Mark Wilkinson (not verified)

All the AWD Subarus now have Traction Control. None of them have a locked center, nor low-range gearing. Some have LSDs still. Their CUVs have at least 8.7" of ground clearance.

The nicest thing about Subaru Outback/Forester/Crosstrek for offroading, compared to most other AWD CUVs, is their aftermarket support. I can find LSDs, diff-lockers, winchmounts, skids, rocker guards, etc. for the Subie CUVs.