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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

I have looked through/searched a lot of threads in this forum in regards to a hitch for a 2019 Outback.
I know 2 in receiver is better for more product selection. But I saw things in regards to ground clearance levels, clearance from the bumper, issues with having your car towed, and aesthetics. I want to get a bike carrier and maybe at some point also get a cargo carrier. I also do not want to be limited in the event (unlikely) that I might want to tow a trailer.

Can someone give me an overview of things I am confused about? I plan to have someone else install it.
I have never had a hitch before and don't want to regret my choice.

Thank you.
 

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ground clearance: the OEM hitch has tabs to hook the safety chains to ... those stick down about as far as the aftermarket 2" hitches. On the rear of the vehicle, you lose about 2.5-3" of clearance. Because the hitch is a bit lower than the rear plastic of the bumper, you lose some ground clearance if you are doing things where the back bumper is scraping. If you don't have that problem now, you won't have it with a hitch (most don't). I've had hitches on lower cars and those would scrape, but protected the bodywork at the back from things like parking lot cement stops and rocks bordering parking lots in grassy areas. The hitch was cheap, bodywork isn't.

Clearance from the rear bumper: this is true for any hitch. the aftermarket ones are all pretty close to the same measurement - you just have to be aware when buying something like a rear cargo tray - what is your clearance from the hitch pin hole, and what is the accessory measurement (most will list this... the videos on etrailer usually have a section where the show it).

Having a car towed: some hitches you don't reinstall the rear impact beam when you install the hitch. If you don't have that, you can't use that little recovery hook to help pull your car backwards up on a flat bed. Instead, they will attach whatever recovery cable to the hitch or some other point. That isn't a big deal... the original little nut in the impact beam has 4 small welds and is only on the one side... so a hitch would spread the same force along both sides... and you're only pulling the car up on an incline. You can also get a recovery block insert with a D ring that goes in the receiver if you wanted to do so.

Aesthetics: look at pictures - there are several threads. Most people like the "hidden hitch" design - this is not the stealth hitch, this is simply where all you see is the receiver and not the entire exposed beam across the bottom (examples are some models of Curt, and the ecohitch). Some hitches have the exposed lower beam with the receiver showing. Either way you'll have something sticking out. You can get the stealth hitch - the receiver disconnects when not in use. A bit more involved to attach it if you use the hitch a lot, or if you get somewhere and don't have it attached and have a need to use the hitch (I'd end up leaving it attached, so not sure it would be a good choice for me).
 

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2015 2.51 Limited, 2013 Abarth 500 - Nero, 2002 WRX Wagon - WR Blue, 2011 Forester
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There are various types of install, depending on what you plan to tow etc. The stock Subaru unit goes inside the rear bumper by replacing the bumper beam, common aftermarket ones sit under the spare wheel well and bolt to the chassis rails. The hitch size helps determine your available options and weights for towing. I went 2" because I already had items to fit that require the 2" size. But again, look into what you plan to tow and the expected tongue weights etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Walker! Great information. You mentioned the "rear impact beam."
I assume I would want to keep my rear impact beam??

ground clearance: the OEM hitch has tabs to hook the safety chains to ... those stick down about as far as the aftermarket 2" hitches. On the rear of the vehicle, you lose about 2.5-3" of clearance. Because the hitch is a bit lower than the rear plastic of the bumper, you lose some ground clearance if you are doing things where the back bumper is scraping. If you don't have that problem now, you won't have it with a hitch (most don't). I've had hitches on lower cars and those would scrape, but protected the bodywork at the back from things like parking lot cement stops and rocks bordering parking lots in grassy areas. The hitch was cheap, bodywork isn't.

Clearance from the rear bumper: this is true for any hitch. the aftermarket ones are all pretty close to the same measurement - you just have to be aware when buying something like a rear cargo tray - what is your clearance from the hitch pin hole, and what is the accessory measurement (most will list this... the videos on etrailer usually have a section where the show it).

Having a car towed: some hitches you don't reinstall the rear impact beam when you install the hitch. If you don't have that, you can't use that little recovery hook to help pull your car backwards up on a flat bed. Instead, they will attach whatever recovery cable to the hitch or some other point. That isn't a big deal... the original little nut in the impact beam has 4 small welds and is only on the one side... so a hitch would spread the same force along both sides... and you're only pulling the car up on an incline. You can also get a recovery block insert with a D ring that goes in the receiver if you wanted to do so.

Aesthetics: look at pictures - there are several threads. Most people like the "hidden hitch" design - this is not the stealth hitch, this is simply where all you see is the receiver and not the entire exposed beam across the bottom (examples are some models of Curt, and the ecohitch). Some hitches have the exposed lower beam with the receiver showing. Either way you'll have something sticking out. You can get the stealth hitch - the receiver disconnects when not in use. A bit more involved to attach it if you use the hitch a lot, or if you get somewhere and don't have it attached and have a need to use the hitch (I'd end up leaving it attached, so not sure it would be a good choice for me).
 

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Thanks Walker! Great information. You mentioned the "rear impact beam."
I assume I would want to keep my rear impact beam??
Depends.

The OEM hitch doesn’t reuse the rear impact beam... the hitch fits where the beam was located (Subaru engineers designed it this way).

Most aftermarket hitches that mount like the OEM hitch reuse the rear impact beam, even though the design of the hitch is similar.

Some designs os aftermarket hitch mount lower and don’t use the rear impact beam mount points, so it’s not touched during an install.

Lots of discussion on it with anecdotes... from a practical standpoint... oem hitch you can’t use the little recovery hook, the aftermarket hitches you can.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks.

Depends.

The OEM hitch doesn’t not reuse the rear impact beam... the hitch fits where the beam was located (Subaru engineers designed it this way).

Most aftermarket hitches reuse the rear impact beam, even though the design of the hitch is similar.

Some designs os aftermarket hitch mount lower and don’t use the rear impact beam mount points.

Lots of discussion on it with anecdotes... from a practical standpoint... oem hitch you can’t use the little recovery hook, the aftermarket hitches you can.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5i WGM
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If you want to understand better how all the pieces go together, etrailer has hitch installation videos, for example:

https://www.etrailer.com/tv-install-etrailer-trailer-hitch-2019-subaru-outback-wagon-e98847.aspx

I bought the Ecohitch for my 2012 Impreza, and did the installation myself. This model is nice because (at least on the Impreza) the receiver tube is hidden completely behind the bumper. It's a bit more expensive the Draw-Tite (Curt is typically identical), but more of the frame is higher up. On the Outback, it sandwiches between the frame and the bumper beam, so I think it preserves the tow hook location. Also no drilling is required.

Here is the link to the EcoHitch for the 2019 Outback:

https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch/Subaru/Outback+Wagon/2019/306-X7601.html?VehicleID=201980583#exp-productdetails=.photos

I have purchased multiple items from etrailer, and their customer service has always been great.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5i WGM
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Nice job!

If the foam block over the bumper beam was shaved down by the thickness of the hitch plates, would it fit back behind the bumper cover? I think the idea is it will save the bumper cover from cracking in minor collisions. Or maybe it has some other function, like supporting the edge of the cover.
 

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Nice job!

If the foam block over the bumper beam was shaved down by the thickness of the hitch plates, would it fit back behind the bumper cover? I think the idea is it will save the bumper cover from cracking in minor collisions. Or maybe it has some other function, like supporting the edge of the cover.
nope, just filler to help keep it's shape in minor bumps.
 

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Also - a thought about the clearance from the rear bumper:

It's more than just if the bike rack or loaded cargo tray clears the bumper... you might want to be able to open the rear gate while the accessory is on there.... some bike racks can tilt to allow a gate to clear. Some do not.... you will want to open the rear gate and stop it at it's most rearward travel as it moves up... and measure that... so, if you get a cargo tray, and load it up that high, the gate doesn't hit whatever you are carrying. I've never had an issue, but it's another thing to keep in mind once you get a trailer hitch and then go to buy whatever accessory.
 

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I just installed mine today. Got it from etrailer and wiring harness too
What a coincidence! :D

485449


As u can see I picked up the DrawTite frame mount hitch, with the 4" drop ball (for my VW bug tow bar.)
I really love the clean look of the behind-the-bumper hitches but just didn't want to go through the bumper removal hassle. Great job on your intall BTW!!
 

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What a coincidence! :D

View attachment 485449

As u can see I picked up the DrawTite frame mount hitch, with the 4" drop ball (for my VW bug tow bar.)
I really love the clean look of the behind-the-bumper hitches but just didn't want to go through the bumper removal hassle. Great job on your intall BTW!!
Looks good! Thank you... But don't give too much praise... I didn't tow anything yet lol
 

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2018 Outback Touring 3.6R
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I believe the foam is the impact absorber. I haven't tried it (no hitch on my OB yet) but have heard that it is possible to reapply the skin even with replacing the foam, but it's tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One more question. I called my Subaru dealer and they will only install their OEM product.
Where would one go to get an aftermarket hitch installed?
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5i WGM
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Find a highly rated local mechanic and ask him/her for a quote on installing a hitch on a 2019 Outback. You could have the hitch delivered to you and bring it in, or they could purchase the hitch for you, in which case there will likely be a markup, which is completely justifiable, as that is part of every auto repair business. There are also stores which specialize in roof racks, and bike racks, etc., that can install hitches. Just make sure the person installing it is competent, which is best based on reputation.
 

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I believe the foam is the impact absorber. I haven't tried it (no hitch on my OB yet) but have heard that it is possible to reapply the skin even with replacing the foam, but it's tight.
On mine, there was plenty of room for the foam impact absorber with the Curt hitch.
 

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Getting a dealer installed hitch next week on my year old outback. Appears that a total rear disassembly takes place to install a hitch(really). Can anyone give me a heads up check list for any install issues that I might look for. Main use for now is a bike rack. Thanks, as usual, for the info.
 

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Getting a dealer installed hitch next week on my year old outback. Appears that a total rear disassembly takes place to install a hitch(really). Can anyone give me a heads up check list for any install issues that I might look for. Main use for now is a bike rack. Thanks, as usual, for the info.
I had the factory 1.25" hitch installed on my 2017 Outback when I first got it. I should have gone with an aftermarket 2" receiver from the start and have upgraded mine recently and removed the factory Subaru hitch. There are many more options for accessories for a 2" receiver hitch than the Subaru hitch, and Subaru has a non-standard pin-hole location that may even limit the use of some 1.25" accessories.

The rear bumper cover will be removed as well as the foam absorber and the steel bumper beam. The foam absorber and the bumper beam will not be reinstalled with the Subaru hitch when the bumper cover goes back on. If you go with the Subaru hitch ask to keep the parts they remove and leave off in case you later either remove the hitch or upgrade to a different one. With any other hitch or with no hitch the bumper beam and absorber will need to be put back in. I didn't keep these parts when I had my first hitch installed and had to buy a bumper beam when I later changed hitches.

Personally I would go with a 2" aftermarket receiver hitch to begin with and skip the Subaru factory hitch. Which one is a whole different question.
 
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