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The New Outback XT Moniker And Other Strange Subaru Terminology Explained

The new 2020 Subaru Outback XT trim package has arrived but what does the X mean? We explain this and other strange Subaru monikers they use on their cars.

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Subaru has always used strange monikers on their cars like the new 2020 Outback XT models, and you probably know the “T” stands for turbocharged, but what does the X in XT mean? Some of the Japanese automaker’s designations also include engine size (in liters of displacement) like the Forester 2.5i which is easy to understand. But what does "i" stand for in 2.5i?

Let’s start with the “X” which Subaru uses on many of their cars like the new 2020 Subaru Outback XT, Legacy XT, WRX, Subaru XV (Crosstrek in the U.S.) and their X in X-MODE all-wheel-drive systems. XV is the name Subaru calls the Crosstrek in every global market except the U.S. Some say WRX stands for World Rally Cross or that it means World Rally eXperimental.

Subaru XV Crosstrek

When Subaru first launched the Crosstrek model in 2012, they called it the XV Crosstrek and then later dropped the XV in North America and now use XV in all other global markets. Unless you’ve been following Subaru for decades, it can be confusing with all the different monikers and designations Subaru uses, so let's clear up all the uncertainty.

Whenever you see the “X” on any Subaru vehicle, it means “maximum traction”, all-wheel-drive, and it means it’s off-road capable. The WRX stands for World Rally and “X” means the all-wheel-drive system was developed for the extreme off-road rally stages. So the new Subaru Outback “X” T means its all-wheel-drive system has a "go-anywhere" attitude because it was perfected in the snow, dirt, and gravel on the world rally stages.

Subaru X-Mode maximum traction system

The “X” in X-Mode that’s used on the new 2020 Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and new Ascent models optimize Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system for “maximum traction” on slippery surfaces. A new dual-function X-Mode offers additional traction control with settings for snow, dirt, and mud.

But there are more strange names and destinations. Here’s a list of other Subaru names you should know about.

Symmetrical AWD: Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system consists of a longitudinally mounted boxer engine coupled to a symmetrical drivetrain with equal length half-axles. All Subaru models come standard with the brand's off-road capable Symmetrical AWD system except the BRZ.

Boxer: Subaru exclusively uses this unique engine design with its cylinders mounted horizontally with each bank in opposition to the other. This name came from the way the pistons seem to punch each other like a boxer throwing punches in the ring.

Subaru BRZ sports coupe

BRZ: “BRZ" stands for "Boxer engine", "Rear-wheel drive" and “Zenith.” The Subaru BRZ is the only model without all-wheel-drive.

STI: Subaru Tecnica International is the brand’s high-performance motorsports division and models like the WRX STI has the highest performance of any models. STI builds performance-tuned engines, transmissions, and suspensions. And the Subaru WRX STI Type RA means (Record Attempt).

Subaru WRX STI Type RA

DCCD: Subaru's Control Center Differential allows the center differential locking of the WRX STI to be adjusted to It allows the driver to freely change the sensitivity of the limited-slip differential (LSD) to match the conditions of the road and driving style.

SI-DRIVE: Subaru Intelligent Drive is an advanced engine management system with driver-selectable modes tailored to suit various driving conditions and the whims of the driver.

VDC: Vehicle Dynamics Control with Active Torque Vectoring helps provide sharper, more stable handling by monitoring steering and braking inputs to help keep the vehicle on the intended path.

VIZIV: “VIZIV” is only used on Subaru’s Concept show-cars and means “Vision for Innovation.”

StarDrive: This is Subaru’s moniker for its newest plug-in hybrid technology. It's found on the new 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid model.

Levorg: Levorg Sports Tourer is not sold in the U.S. and Subaru says the name "LEVORG" is derived from a combination of the words "Legacy", "Revolution" and "Touring."The Levorg shares its platform with the Impreza, Legacy, and WRX.

Lineartronic CVT: A Continuous Variable Transmission is unlike a traditional automatic transmission, and Subaru uses two hydraulic adjustable pulleys connected by a chain-link and a step-less gear ratio that allows the engine to run in its optimal power band at all times. While this technology allows a fully automatic transmission driving experience, a clutch-less manual shifting mode with paddle shifters is available on many Subaru models.

STARLINK: This is Subaru’s safety and security services, which include Automatic Collision Notification, Lane Keep Assist, forward and rear emergency braking intervention, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Recovery and the added convenience of Remote Services. It also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Starlink is standard on all Subaru models.

EyeSight: Subaru’s driver-assist safety system handles the adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and sway warning with lane keep assist. It's like having a second set of "eyes" watching the road ahead.

e-Boxer: Subaru sells a new Forester e-Boxer and Crosstrek e-Boxer in Japan, Europe, and Australia. The “e” stands for electric and is coupled with the Subaru Boxer engine for improved fuel economy.

Forester 2.5i: The "i" in 2.5i stands for "intelligent" in Subaru's i-Active Valve Lift System in the 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer engine.

2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT

Whenever you see the “X” moniker on any Subaru vehicle like the new 2020 Outback Onyx Edition XT trim, the Japanese automaker developed the all-wheel-drive system to have “maximum traction" for all-weather, off-road capability. The “T” means it's coupled with a turbocharged Boxer engine.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA, Torque News

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SubaStar (not verified)    November 3, 2019 - 8:33AM

Many people here in Europe believe "RA" stands for "Race Altered" and not "Record Attempt".
The simple "R" was (not anymore in the range) meaning "a bit sporty".
So at the time, you had tree levels of sportiness : R, WRX, WRX STI.
And what about the "Legacy Spec-B" please Denis?

dave (not verified)    November 6, 2019 - 8:57PM

In reply to by SubaStar (not verified)


Back in 2006, Subaru tried something a little crazy. It took its attractive-but-understated Legacy sedan and turned it into a full-on sports machine called the 2.5GT spec.B. The spec.B didn't get a power bump over the 2.5GT's 250 horses, but it did receive a sportier suspension and a Torsen limited-slip differential. The next year, Subaru swapped the five-speed manual for a six-speed, making the spec.B even more compelling.

dave (not verified)    November 6, 2019 - 9:00PM

Yes, the Japanese word for Liter starts with R (rittoru).

So 3.6L in Japanese is 3.6R, and it sounds racier.

Mason (not verified)    June 28, 2022 - 8:06PM

The "XT" name is also a callback to a strange little two door coupe they made from '85 to '91 or so. It was an XT regardless of whether it had all-wheel drive or turbo.