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First Day Of Spring The 10 Best SUVs For Mud Season - Is Subaru The Best?

Which small SUVs are the best on muddy roads? Check out the 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek feature that sets them apart.

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How do Subaru vehicles handle muddy roads? March 20, 2021, is the first day of spring, and mud season has officially arrived. The snow begins to melt, and that leaves deep mud on some backroads. A new report from Digital Trends ranks the best small SUVs for off-road use, and the Jeep Wrangler is the best overall.

What if you want something more civilized for commuting during the week and something for the weekend adventure? The 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek’s new feature could be the difference between getting stuck and needing a tow truck or making it out safely.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Another new report lists the Jeep Compass, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander, GMC Terrain, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Chevrolet Blazer, and Honda Passport as the ten best small SUVs for a weekend adventure. But the Subaru Forester, along with Outback, and Crosstrek comes with dual function X-Mode that sets them apart.

Subaru Corporation developed a new setting for the three SUVs specifically for deep mud. The 2021 Forester Sport, 2021 Outback XT, and 2021 Crosstrek Sport and Limited all feature a new dual-function X-Mode with a deep mud mode.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

The Japanese automaker designed the new dual-function X-Mode for getting owners further away. Regular X-Mode can be used in everyday commuting, especially in wet, icy, and deep snow in the spring. Denver just had two feet of the wet white stuff.

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 2021 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, deep mud on backroads this spring.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

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.

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

In deep mud, you want wheel spin to help get you out of a dicey situation. When faced with deep mud or snow conditions, selecting this mode allows some wheel spin, when needed, to prevent the vehicle from becoming stuck. When you get off-road, you can encounter deep mud on the trail. 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 2021 Subaru Forester Sport, 2021 Outback XT, and 2021 Crosstrek Sport and Limited trims will get you through muddy roads with the new dual-function X-Mode.

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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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Gabe (not verified)    March 21, 2021 - 9:51AM

"allows you to dial in the right amount of traction"

Assuming I'm not competing in a drift event in my Subaru wagon, when would I want less than 100% of available traction?

I've read from multiple owners that subaru's symmetrical awd system is lousy in snow and mud, frequently allowing just one tire to spin while you sit stuck. Does this new x-mode work to address this limitation?

jg (not verified)    March 22, 2021 - 12:19PM

In reply to by Gabe (not verified)

Letting an automated system try to obtain 100% traction in any slippery condition will always work out poorly. So yes, if you don’t use some driving skill and just tool your way into sketchy conditions without either selecting the deep snow and mud setting (which helps keep your forward momentum by allowing the tires to spin instead of locking up the wheels while trying to keep 100% traction on all wheels) or turning of the VDC completely, which is what I have done in my cars that didn’t have the new setting, then you’ll probably complain (or those that you’ve read about) that the all wheel drive system is to blame for not magically getting out of precarious situations.

I leased a 2014 Impreza for my son when he turned 16 and went up to the mountains after the first snow to teach him how to get out of skids and all around drive in snotty conditions. In about half a foot of snow in a slick parking lot, I had a very difficult time trying to get the car to slide around. I was hoping to show him the difference between driving with the vehicle dynamics control on and off and how wheel spin would help him out under certain conditions, but the all wheel drive system was just too good to let me get into trouble the way I wanted to (this was before any X Mode).

So I settled for taking him out to Dirt Fish and letting him have some time around the track in a WRX instead. He was OK with that and of course I had to do some laps as well. The all wheel drive works pretty well out there too.