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Old 04-03-2011, 10:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 2011 towing capacity-for real?

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.
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It should be fine as long as you stay within the factory tolerances.
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dovbaer View Post
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
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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All depends on what your trailer idea is. A full on RV trailer even the small Colman type tent trailers are actually really heavy for their size they use pressed chip board flooring - and fixtures etc. The light rigs tend to tip in around 1200lbs empty thats not counting your fishing gear the Mountain bike - the dog - the wife - kids bikes etc. Which is why I was looking at the Jumping Jack 5X8 tent trailer at 1200lbs empty - the Life time Tent trailer 4X6 at 880lbs - and the Camplite aluminum trailers which all were 1300lbs and under.

I hope to do some big road trips so having a light rig makes that type of trip super easy and a none issue. The general rule of thumb is that your empty basic weight is about half your max trailer towing capacity. This generally lands you in a very comfortable weight range once your all loaded up and you can do long trips with no major worries.
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have towed the following with my 2010 2.5 CVTC OB:

T@B camper trailer, about 1700 lb empty, 2000 lb as loaded. Weight/handling wasn't a problem but wind resistance over 60 MPH took a lot of power. Towed about 500 mi.. 16-18 MPG.

Aliner camper, about 900 lb empty and as towed. Towed great. Could barely tell it was there at freeway speeds (65 MPH) Towed 500 Mi.. 24-25 MPG vs 30-32 mpg with no trailer.
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Either have an extra tranny oilcooler installed, or if you can, do it yourself. Your tranny will thank you later...
The factory cooler is marginal at best, specially in high temps in the summer. It already has been in the high 80's to low 90's down here and all is fine so far with my vehicle.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by subiesailor View Post
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.
Do have brakes on your trailer? I'm getting a new outback 2.5 with the cvt transmission. My boat trailer is about 1500-1600 pounds. I'm wondering if I need to get brakes put on the trailer. Thanks
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Do have brakes on your trailer? I'm getting a new outback 2.5 with the cvt transmission. My boat trailer is about 1500-1600 pounds. I'm wondering if I need to get brakes put on the trailer. Thanks
No brakes though once you start getting into the 2000lb range it wouldn't be a bad thing to have as you can start to feel that the car is lacking some braking power at that point. Sub 2000lbs as long as the trailer tows and is balanced well I think most people are just fine with no trailer brakes with the ob. Now if your towing every week and racking up some major miles the brakes might be worth it but most people are lucky to tow 1000 miles a year which case as long as the trailer tows nice and is well balanced sub 2000lbs is not going to be a big deal assuming you drive like your towing a trailer vs driving a 2dr sports coup.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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No added cooler for me - had I kept the larger racing boat I may have explored the cooler for the CVT. If I had the 5spd AT yes would have just done it given its pretty much a simple plug and go deal and not really hard to do. CVT could be a different story sealed system etc - no doubt can be done but may be a little more involved. So unless your really hauling 1350lbs+ on hot long climbs I'd learn what all the lights on the dash mean and how they work and any time your hauling in hot temps be very attentive to whats going on with the dash - or start chatting up the local dealer or top shop in the area for modified cars about what it would take to add a cooler and add the special fluid to the system.
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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In the UK the 3.6R is certified to tow a maximum weight of 4,400lbs (with trailer brakes). They have a 3/4" lower suspension with self-leveling rear shocks. Other than that, I'm not aware of any differences.

If I ever wind up buying the '10+ Outback, I will fit the UK suspension and an auxiliary transmission cooler, along with a Tekonsha brake controller (my trailers have electric brakes). A sway bar and trailer shocks are also a good idea, fitted to a tandem axle trailer, if you're going to tow that much.

Cars are the 'norm' for towing in Europe, but they have much higher controls as to the configuration of the trailers (Germany requires trailers have shocks and brakes, and limits speeds to 100 kph, for instance).

If you're smart about it, you can safely exceed 3,000 lbs with the US Outback, but I wouldn't want to do it without the above modifications.
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