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Looking at possibly getting a OB as a replacement to my truck. Tired of bad gas mileage. But my biggest concern is how well the OB can tow. Can the 2.5 liter CVT tow a 1500 lb boat plus 600 lbs of people and gear inside the car at freeway speeds (70 mph) for 500 miles without damaging the vehicle? The driving is at low elevation (<2000ft) with rolling hills and moderate temps (<90 degrees). Is this too much to expect from an outback? If the trailer tongue weight is around 100 lbs, should I expect the car to be dragging its ass down the road especially considering all the gear and people inside?
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
I has wagons.
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Rated at 2700 with trailer brakes, 1000 without.
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 (wife's), 2015 WRX
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Rated at 2700 with trailer brakes (small print: downhill with tail winds), 1000 without.
:D

I'd like to hear other owners experiences, too. 2700 seems like a lot, especially with anything with any sort of frontal area.
 

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2014 2.5 Outback Premium CVT 72,000 mi (previous: 2012 OB 2.5 base 6-MT, totaled at 73,532mi)
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At 70? No way, at least in a 2012 or earlier. Also, the CVT has a high temp/long upgrade limit that cuts down the total weight limit. Have not heard if its still true for 2013. To be fair, I've only heard good reports about the 2013 towing, but I won't go over 60 in my '12 with a 1000 lb tent trailer (including gear, well balanced). The soft rear springs/shocks/rsb allow the trailer to push the rear end around dangerously in corners (even long sweepers). Straight, braking hills, no problem, works great.
 

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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT, Steel Silver, all-weather package. Upgrades: Tweeter kit, BlueConnect, media hub, remote start, Curt 2" receiver hitch.
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Dieselox, sounds like something is up with yur trailer... Maybe the weight distribution or something. I tow a trailer at least once a week -- either my utility trailer or my camper. I have a Scamp camper that is 1,200 pounds dry, and closer to 1,600 ready-to-camp. It tows beautifully. I have never had an occasion where it felt like the trailer was pushing out the rear of the car in a turn.

I used to tow the Scamap with my Scion xD (subcompact hatchback with 128 hp), and it towed pretty well behind that car, too.









I towed a small sailboat yesterday, but I didn't think to snap a picture.
 

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5spd AT in the 3.6 is 1500lbs max trailer weight when in 104+temps and 5+ mile climb
The CVT is 1350

This is related to the cooling capacity. Adding a larger cooler is not a bad idea however don't do it till you have very specific logged temps from the stock set up so you can compare the new cooler to the stock set up. I've seen cases where a after market cooler returned worse cooling capability than the stock set up simply because of the location and the set up on the cooler. So if your going after market cooler make sure you have some really good temp readings under specific loads so when you switch you can tell if you have improved cooling capacity or lowered it. The OB doesn't exactly have lots of good places to put an aftermarket cooler either so this is even more important with the OB.

Trailers are not all made equal. A trailer which is set up really well will tow behind any car at speed very well!! A trailer that has not be set up well will be a disaster behind any car.

The length of the tongue to axle on the trailer can play a role in how stable the trailer is regarding sway. Weight which is not balanced well is the most common issue to cause poor trailer handling. However even an empty trailer where the distance between the hitch and the axle is not quite right and the balance point of the empty trailer can cause issues with handling.

As for the subaru I spent 11yrs towing various trailers with our Legacy GT non turbo which was a fantastic tow vehicle if you leave out the weak cooling system. The car handled various weights and trailers exceptionally well. The Outback is no different though the new Gen4 starting in 2010 has a much much better cooling system than the prior generations.

As for weight? The 2.5 can haul 2700lbs however that is under fairly mild controlled conditions. Flat roads - limited speeds well balanced trailer with trailer brakes etc.
Even a 500lb trailer that is horribly set up and bounces and sways all over the place will be a terrible towing experience in any car.

For the OB suspension and running gear the ideal weight range regardless of engine is around 1800lbs and under for long trips where various road conditions play a role. Head winds will be a major fight with any tall boxy trailer regardless of weight given the OB running gear and engine choices are just not intended to fight heavy wind drag for long distances like what you might see hauling a tall box trailer across some long states during the windy season.

You areas of interest and the type of climbs you have should play a big role in what type of trailer you would haul with the OB. Regardless of the engine given the difference between the two regarding cooling is more or less very little One large passenger more or less.

If you plan on doing long trips at highway speeds you want as clean and low profile trailer set up as possible to keep wind drag down. If your hauling in hot places which fairly decent climbs then you want to shoot for a light empty trailer weight so you have plenty of capacity for passengers and gear. My go anywhere trailer empty weight target was 1300lbs or less when I was looking. My tent trailer is 900lbs empty and when behind the car with no gear racked on the top of the trailer, the trailer sits about the same height as the bottom of the rear hatch window. The 2.5 CVT hardly even notices the trailer we can run 70mph all day long and post 23-25mpg. It has plenty of power to accelerate up decent grades and carry speeds over the legal limit without taxing the engine.

When you start hitting about 1700lbs which is what my 21ft 8.5ft wide racing boat tips in at with the trailer. Thats about where the 2.5 and the running gear start to work when you have head winds and climbs etc. This boat is about roof line height with the OB except for the 30ft mast which is carried in a manner where it sticks up over the car. Windage is very noticable and does impact the car in a big way even with what is a fairly sleek package behind the car compared to say a box trailer. Yes even flat ground hot temps can be an issue with enough wind and drag from the trailer. At 1700lbs empty behind the car the new Gen4 tows well keep in mind the trailer is absolutely hands down super nice towing trailer rock solid across Nevada behind a Yukon doing 85mph no stability issues from the trailer! The boat is also a saltwater boat so trailer brakes are not found on the trailer 99% of all 250 of these boats in the US don't have brakes on the trailers due to their light weight and saltwater use. Zero have been wrecked due to being towed with no brakes on the trailers. I know because each boat is tracked by the owners group and all of the boats are in high demand. Trailer set up and dyamics is 100% the most important factor for proper trailering.

If your doing RV where no salt water dipping at the boat ramp is needed then yes brakes are great and worth having. Also keep in mind that RV's tend to gain weight over the years as your cooking supplies expand and your standard gear left on the RV grows. Another reason for good brakes on an RV trailer LOL.. Boats its always a good idea once or twice a year to strip everything off the boat and only put the required safety gear back on the boat along with the standard equipment your using with the boat to keep your weight gain issue to a minimum.

2700lbs across town or on a short haul some place with trailer brakes the OB handles it great. 1800lbs or less across the Rockies, NV - AZ the full length of the West coast etc is the ideal target range for either car.

The general rule is to shoot for half your max towing weight if your doing lots of long distance stuff given once you get packed and set up you will need that extra buffer in capacity. Also the tow vehicle will be much better off for the long trips.
 

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:D

I'd like to hear other owners experiences, too. 2700 seems like a lot, especially with anything with any sort of frontal area.
Keep in mind a big box trailer with a head wind will make any tow vehicle work hard. Heck even my low profile boat behind my landcruiser was tough on a haul with 20mph head winds and 106 degree temps on 99 through Fresno a few years back. 60mph was fine try to bump it to 65mph and even the huge cooling system in the 212hp tractor engine were having issues keeping things happy. The OB regardless of engine choice would have been a very slow sub 60mph haul to keep things cool. A box trailer in that case would have almost had us pull off some place and watch a Movie or two till it cooled off a little outside and the winds dropped off some.
 

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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT, Steel Silver, all-weather package. Upgrades: Tweeter kit, BlueConnect, media hub, remote start, Curt 2" receiver hitch.
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Of course, towing something with a lot of frontal area will make a difference, regardless of weight. A lot of people in the fiberglass RV community remark upon how much better they tow than a typical square trailer. This is due to the rounded corners. You'll find the same thing with a cargo trailer. Cheaper trailers tend to be squared off, while nicer (more expensive) trailers have curved edged. It doesn't seem like it would make much of a difference, but it really does.

Wind is going to affect you much more with a larger area... be it headwinds or crosswinds.

Towing 1,500 pounds with the outback is super easy. As I mentioned, I used to tow the Scamp with a Scion xD. This was a MUCH smaller car with a much less powerful engine. It isn't even tow rated in the US, although it is rated to tow about 1800 pounds in Europe with a SMALLER engine. I never had any trouble towing the Scamp, my cargo trailer, or a 4x8 enclosed Uhaul trailer (about 1,800 pounds loaded).

Here's a pic from my archive... and the car is sitting low because of the sport suspension, not because of the weight.



 

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No FHE, but I would not have hitched more than 1000 lbs to the back of my '11 2.5i CVT. The suspension was not really adequate for the car itself... it would have been nightmarish with a trailer.

The 2013 3.6R is much more capable. I'd be comfortable hitching 1500 lbs to the back of it and stuffing 4 adults inside with some gear.

I'm probably not a great person to ask about this though, because I like big safety margins... especially with suspension and brakes. When I need to tow stuff, I just pay for the diesel and out comes the Silverado 2500HD Duramax. It's rated for something like 14,600 from the bumper-pull, and well over 15k if you use a 5th wheel or gooseneck. ;-)
 

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Of course, towing something with a lot of frontal area will make a difference, regardless of weight. A lot of people in the fiberglass RV community remark upon how much better they tow than a typical square trailer. This is due to the rounded corners. You'll find the same thing with a cargo trailer. Cheaper trailers tend to be squared off, while nicer (more expensive) trailers have curved edged. It doesn't seem like it would make much of a difference, but it really does.
The rounded corners make a big difference with motorhomes, too.

Several years ago, motorhome bodies were made of sheet aluminum and had square corners. Today's motorhomes have fiberglass front and end caps with rounded corners. Just this change helped to increase the mpg by 2 to 3 miles. This is a lot if one considers that the average class A motorhome get's about 8 to 10 mpg.
 

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2014 2.5 Outback Premium CVT 72,000 mi (previous: 2012 OB 2.5 base 6-MT, totaled at 73,532mi)
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I the trailer is making the back of the car squirrely, it is due to the tongue weight being too light.
Or you have 100 to 150 lbs tongue weight for a 1000 to 1200 lb trailer and hit a bump in a sweeping corner doing 63 in a 65 zone, and the uplift on the rear end reduced the effective tongue weight, and the trailer pushed the mushy rear end of the OB alarmingly hard, and combined with the steering Yaw lag made for an interesting feeling of being about 40% in control. For 2 seconds. And I have to add that the effect was self damping, it didn't continue swaying or anything.
 

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At 70? No way, at least in a 2012 or earlier. Also, the CVT has a high temp/long upgrade limit that cuts down the total weight limit. Have not heard if its still true for 2013. To be fair, I've only heard good reports about the 2013 towing, but I won't go over 60 in my '12 with a 1000 lb tent trailer (including gear, well balanced). The soft rear springs/shocks/rsb allow the trailer to push the rear end around dangerously in corners (even long sweepers). Straight, braking hills, no problem, works great.
I tow about 1800lbs Alto camper. I've just returned from 9 weeks trip to Arizona and drove in areas above 7000 ft ( Grand Canyon, Idaho/Montana border on interstate 15 etc.) ... altogether more of 6000 miles of towing from Canada to Arizona and back. I use weight distribution hitch which is very helpful and my camper has very low center of gravity. I have no problem with corners that you mentioned.
So absolutely no towing problem on my 2011 3.6R. I absolutely trust in the towing capability of my 3.6R. This in my 4th (two months each) trip using this rig and summarily I drove more than 20,000 miles towing my camper in 2011, 2012, 2013.
Towing at 70 MPH is perfectly OK most of the time (when there is no strong headwind). My last trip average for 6000 miles was 16.2 Mpg (this is in US Gallons =3.8 litres not Imperial gallon which is 4.5 litres)
 

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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT, Steel Silver, all-weather package. Upgrades: Tweeter kit, BlueConnect, media hub, remote start, Curt 2" receiver hitch.
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No FHE, but I would not have hitched more than 1000 lbs to the back of my '11 2.5i CVT. The suspension was not really adequate for the car itself... it would have been nightmarish with a trailer.

The 2013 3.6R is much more capable. I'd be comfortable hitching 1500 lbs to the back of it and stuffing 4 adults inside with some gear.

I'm probably not a great person to ask about this though, because I like big safety margins... especially with suspension and brakes. When I need to tow stuff, I just pay for the diesel and out comes the Silverado 2500HD Duramax. It's rated for something like 14,600 from the bumper-pull, and well over 15k if you use a 5th wheel or gooseneck. ;-)
Anyone else with no first hand experience like to chime in? Very valuable contribution.
 

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Well, I tow a 1800# trailer with my 2.5 liter, and it is fine. I did add electric brakes though, as I like to stop.
Springs on the rear of a 6 cyl are no different, so I don't know where this poster is coming from, but is entitled to his opinion.

To drag out a vehicle with a 14k lb tow rating to pull a small trailer seems a bit rash to me, but that is just my opinion.

I have put hundreds of thousands of miles on with a semi tractor pulling 80,000 lbs, so I come from a different viewpoint. By the way, they haul that load with only between 350 to 500 hp (yeah, I know they have more torque, but you get my meaning). It is a different experience, just drive accordingly.
 

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^ Yep

For sure again trailer balance and set up regardless of tow vehicle has a huge impact on how enjoyable the trailer will be to tow. 1800lbs with a really nice trailer that just hauls and rides exceptionally well is going to be a very different experience than hauling an 1800lb trailer that is poorly set up and rides really poorly behind the tow vehicle.

Things as simple as leaf springs that are not over kill for the intended use of the trailer can make a big difference in the towing experience. Not to mention leaf springs that are to hefty for the planned load can actually beat the **** out of what your hauling in the trailer on top of creating a really poor towing experience.

The newer torsion axles are actually pretty interesting given they do offer a different type of towing experience over the leaf spring type axle in many cases.
 
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