I bought a 2011 Outback last fall and am generally a happy camper. Am thinking of getting the tow hitch but I want to know if I can really tow with it or am I asking for trouble. I would typically tow 1500 lbs or less, knowing the capacity is 2500. I want to be able to tow a decent size trailer to the dump, and maybe tow a motorcycle in a trailer down the road.
Any comments would be appreciated.
Yes and no - the yes is that they do tow pretty well no that its actually 2700lbs not 2500lbs.
I've been towing a racing sailboat for years and years with our old 2001 legacy GT all up weight behind the car was around 1600lbs thats one person - required boat gear thats all. The 01 legacy was rated at 2000lbs.
The new ob we have the 2.5 CVT has around 1000 miles towing the same boat packed full of camping gear for three adults - 1 kid and a 75lb dog so our all up weight was probably around 2300-2400lbs and it towed well no issues. Though to be honest after all these years I think the ideal dry/empty tow weight for the trailer is probably around 1200lbs then within reason your packed gear 200lbs or so and full car is the sweet spot.
We just sold the racing boat which was 21ft long and with trailer is right around 1600lbs total towed really nice behind both the 01 and the 2010. The new trailer is a 4X6 Lifetime tent trailer tips in around 880lbs tent and trailer no extras with a max of 2000lbs really cool trailer. So far its just gone around the bock but you don't even feel the trailer behind the car and can hardly even see it.
I've also done a 5X8 Uhaul open trailer with 1500lbs of junk in it to the dump the OB towed it just fine.
I think where things start getting rough is where the dry/empty weight of the trailer tips in over 1500lbs then you have all your gear and people packed on board so your easily reaching into the 2000+ where it starts to really affect the car.
Special owners manual notice though the CVT has a cooling capacity of 1350lbs max trailer weight when towing in 104+ degrees and looking at a 5+ mile climb. So CA summers treking up into the Sierras or I5 Grapevine in a 100+ temps your trailer weight could be a issue. Or say NV or front range of Colorado those seem to the be places I've been where you might run into the heat vs load and cooling capacity limits pretty much any summer trip. The 104 temps and below your 2700lbs is the max end but I think ideal is 2100-2200 all up max packed and rolling. You can bomb down the road at normal speeds and have zero issues or power challenges. 2400+ you'll know the trailer is back there and the car is going to be working hard but regarding handling the car handles the trailer loads very well.
The 3.6L 5spd AT is listed at 1500lbs same conditions
The 6spd MT has no heat/trailer load restrictions so its the full 2700lbs