When one thinks of the Subaru brand, it normally evokes images of a blue rally car going sideways. That is because of its long-standing motorsport heritage popularized by Richard Burns, Possum Bourne, Colin McRae and Toshi Arai; who all won World Rally Championships with the WRX STI. But these are, of course, purpose-built race cars designed to take on the torturous terrain of rally racing.

When it comes to models like the Forester and XV, you're more likely to use it for driving around the city and maybe kicking up some dirt on light trails that look like some parking lot behind the mall on weekends. A common perception is that these vehicles would also be gas guzzlers too, owing to the fact that all wheels are driven, all the time. Philippine Subaru distributor Motor Image Pilipinas decided to take media members out to an Eco Adventure drive to Angeles, Pampanga to show us how you can take your all-wheel drive vehicles anywhere and be efficient at the same time.

Subaru Greenhills

The rather stormy day started with a real-world fuel economy run from Subaru Greenhills to Angeles aboard MIP’s local offerings such as the BRZ, Forester, Legacy, Outback, XV, WRX, and WRX STI. While the economy run was more between the Forester and XV crossover models; the Legacy, Outback, WRX, and WRX STI did produce interesting results as well. The AAP-verified (Automobile Association of the Philippines) results produced were somewhere between 12 to 14 kilometers per liter, proving that all-wheel-drive Subarus can be efficient too, contrary to common belief.

Subarus at Widus

After a short break for lunch at Widus Hotel in Clark, we were off to our adventure run out in the open lahar-laden fields and riverbeds surrounding Mount Pinatubo. It was just outside the Clark Freeport Zone, and we got there with a convoy composed of Foresters and XVs. Led by veteran off-roader Beeboy Bargas, the bone-stock crossovers went through a trail which you’d normally take with a modified 4x4 through: sand, river crossings, mud and a series of uphill and downhill slopes.

Subaru XV and Forester in the wild

The challenging terrain placed the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (S-AWD) and Vehicle Dynamics Stability (VDS) systems to work as they aid the "Boxer" driven vehicles through the demanding terrain with ease. Only a couple of vehicles needed recovery, more due to driver error. The X-Mode equipped Forester even had an easier time as the system automatically adjusts the engine, transmission, brakes and vehicle dynamics for the rough, slippery off-road terrain.

Subaru XVs and Foresters by the riverbed

The last time I went through the exact same trail, I was on a Polaris ROV with all-terrain tires. With the speed and ease we were tackling it, I honestly had to remind myself that the XV was actually a road vehicle and not the same purpose-built vehicle.

Subaru XV on the Pasig-Potrero River

To further show the prowess of both vehicles, Bargas took turns with the Forester and XV in the lahar-laden, fast-flowing, knee-deep Pasig-Potrero River, which, normally, only a relatively modified 4x4 would dare cross through.

Subaru XV with Mt. Arayat

The whole "Eco Adventure" experience gave me a whole new impression on the efficiency of Subaru crossovers and where they can actually go.