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Hi, folks. I'm new here, but have had my 05 OB since new, and it has been a great car! Sorry to start another towing thread, but I've read through the other one several times, and can't seem come up with a concrete answer to my question.

I have just purchased a mini rv trailer with a dry weight of 2100# (picking it up this weekend). I know the OB is tow rated for 2700#, so I assume that this will be pushing its limits. The trailer has a surge brake. I expect to use it maybe 5-6 times a year. So my questions are:

1. Can I reasonably expect to to be able to tow this with the OB? I understand that I will need to pack my extra gear, food, etc., in the car itself.

2. The car has the dealer-installed 1 1/4" receiver hitch (Class II?). I know I'll need to confirm the Class II, but assuming that is the case, is this sufficient to tow the trailer, or would I need to upgrade to the 2" receiver?

3. My biggest concern is my driveway; it is 500' long, and rises 100' in elevation from street to house (20% grade?). Will the OB be able to handle this job? Also, in going down the driveway, as I expect I'll be riding the brakes, will this cause the trailer brake to stay engaged?

I appreciate any information, suggestions or opinions.

RKM
 

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1. Can I reasonably expect to to be able to tow this with the OB? I understand that I will need to pack my extra gear, food, etc., in the car itself.
You already bought the trailer and are asking questions now? Are you having buyer's remorse?

The answer is yes and no. If you are low down and driving on flat terrain, there shouldn't be an issue. Mountains and high elevations make things go from acceptable to horrible pretty quickly. Where do you live? If it's above 5000 feet, then the answer is a resounding NO.

That trailer weight is the bare bones weight of a trailer leaving the factory. It does NOT take into account any options like batteries, A/C, larger tanks, fluids, propane, levelling jacks, spare tire, or any of the food and supplies you will inevitable cram in there. Weigh it on a scale before you accept delivery, or you may be unpleasantly surprised that it weighs 2500 pounds or more, empty.

With the scale weight in hand and the spec sheet handy, add in the weight of full gray and black water tanks. Water is 8.3 lbs per US gallon. It's highly unlikely you will ever pull it with more water than that. You can easily dump fresh water through the drain, but you can't with the other tanks, until you reach a dump station. Add in a full load of propane (4.2 lbs per gal), plus another couple of hundred pounds for food stuffs, sleeping linens and a weeks worth of clothes. What are you up to now?

Add in sway control, leveling blocks, black and fresh water hoses, electrical accessories (adapters and cords), maybe an electric heater. Add in the weight of the trailer coupler or draw bar, deck chairs, tarps, sporting of other leisure equipment, and cooking gear - pots and pans). I bet it's getting pretty porky by now.....

2. The car has the dealer-installed 1 1/4" receiver hitch (Class II?). I know I'll need to confirm the Class II, but assuming that is the case, is this sufficient to tow the trailer, or would I need to upgrade to the 2" receiver?
If it's the Subaru hitch, it is a Class II and it wouldn't need to be upgraded in size. If it's an aftermarket hitch, I recommend installing a factory one. Unless the hitch dead weight of the trailer is over 300 pounds - then you would need a Class 3 receiver and a weight distributing coupler.

3. My biggest concern is my driveway; it is 500' long, and rises 100' in elevation from street to house (20% grade?). Will the OB be able to handle this job? Also, in going down the driveway, as I expect I'll be riding the brakes, will this cause the trailer brake to stay engaged?
The surge brakes activate when the weight of the trailer pushes forward on the coupler. This normally happens when slowing down (if gradually, you may need to hit the brakes hard for an instant to get the coupler to shift, then back off on the brake pedal.) When going down hill they will activate and stay on, and you likely will not be able to accelerate enough to get them to release without speeding up too much.

You also will not be able to back uphill AT ALL, unless you install a "free backing solenoid" which disables the surge brake when the backup lights come on. If you get into trouble coming down and need to reverse, you are stuck! Your trailer may have a mechanical lockout that you can flip to stop the brakes from engaging, you need to ask!

Surge brakes SUCK, and it would be much better to have the dealer swap them out for electrics. The only time you should consider surge brakes is if the trailer will be hauled by a lot of different vehicles ( a farm trailer or rental), or if it is a boat trailer that will get dunked often. So you would need to figure the cost of the conversion and adding the wiring and controller to your car, if it isn't already there.

You need to figure all this stuff out before you take the trailer off the lot. Otherwise the trailer has suddenly become "used ", has lost a lot of value, and would be harder to get rid of if you decide it is too much for your Outback. Or at least get a written guarantee that you can return it if your car can't get up your driveway!

I think you need a larger vehicle or a smaller trailer.

Post a link to the trailer you bought - that will help.

BTW, welcome to the forum.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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What he said ^ couldn't have said it better. As for class II vs Class III it doesn't matter your car is barely a class II vehicle which means regardless of the hitch bolted to your car - your car can only handle Class II loads. So your hitch is really a non issue regardless.

Packing the heavy stuff in your car does not change your cars weight hauling ability when a auto maker states the max towing weight - that is generally the max total weight the car can move regardless if its packed in the car or hooked to the back of it. This is due to the suspension - traction - cooling and power capability the car has.

2100lbs empty for a vehicle that has 2700lbs MAX that means in perfect ideal flat conditions the car can move 2700lbs. Not in all conditions can the car tow 2700lbs. Big difference

Even at 1700lbs which is what my 21ft racing sailboat tipped in with trailer ready to go the 2.5L subaru will not tow it to some of the events we attend during the summer months due to high temps and long climbs the car simply does not have the cooling capability to handle that.

The owners manual for your car lists this
2.5L with CVT has a max towing capacity of 1350lbs in 104degree temps and 5+ mile climb
The 2.5L with the MT has an unrestricted weight of 2700lbs given cooling is limited to the engine not the transmission. However I can tell you my boat tied to the MT 2.5 will still not be towed to some of the locations we go to. We use a truck with 5000lbs and up capacity to haul it to these locations.

The 3.5L 5spd AT has a 1500lb towing capacity in 104 degree temps and 5+mile climb again all tied to cooling capacity.

My go anywhere RV camping rig plan was 1200lbs or less empty trailer weight for our OB. This gave me plenty of capacity regarding packed gear and the ability to pretty much go anywhere we wanted to go. The trailer I ended up with is 980lbs empty hooked to the car. We have gone a few places already with that trailer that I would not ever attempt with a trailer 1700lbs and over empty.

If my RV interest was greater than my economical vehicle interest I would probably purchase a used Toyota 4dr pick up or Nissan Frontier given they haven't really changed much in the past 10+ yrs and can be had for pretty cheap - they have capacity to tow small RV's and I would target 2500lbs and under for the RV trailer which is roughly half the practical towing capacity of these trucks.

As a general rule for most people with lots of trailer hauling experience empty weight trailer they shoot for half the max towing weight of the tow car or less given this way they have more than enough capacity to haul bikes - fishing gear - water - gas- clothes - food etc. Even then your standard V6 Toyota truck or Nissan will be sweating the haul.
 

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Yes, I already bought the trailer, and No, no buyer's remorse. I was going to buy the trailer regardless, even if I had to buy a old tow vehicle, because I got a good deal on a fairly rare rv. My reason for posing these questions was to determine if a different vehicle is necessary, or can I get by with the OB for occasional use. Response to both of you as follows (and thank you, btw):

The trailer is a 2009 [email protected], very small, and will only be used for weekend trips; we won't be packing for a month in the boondocks. CORRECTION: it has electric brakes, not surge. Also, according to the spec sheet, all of the items on it are standard (i.e. leveling jacks, AC), and so I believe most are included in the stated vehicle weight (since other models with different standard features have a different stated weight). Of course, I realize that I can't ride around with full water tanks, and propane, battery, etc. have to be considered. We live in the Atlanta area, around 1000', and will be traveling mostly in the N Ga mountains (rarely above 2000') and occasionally to FL.

Also, I agree that Class II vs. Class III is a non-issue, which is why there is no mention of Class III in my post. The hitch is a TowPro, but was installed by the dealer, so I'll have to check to make sure it's Class II. And, although I don't have my owner's manual at the moment, I seriously doubt it says anything about a CVT.

Bottom line, I'm not asking if the 05 2.5 Turbo is the best vehicle to tow this trailer; clearly it is not. I just wondered if it would be adequate for occasional use. When I saw the other post where the guy was "considering" towing over 4000#, I just assumed that under 2500# might not be unreasonable.

Again, I appreciate your taking the time to address my questions.

RKM
 

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Yes, I already bought the trailer, and No, no buyer's remorse. I was going to buy the trailer regardless, even if I had to buy a old tow vehicle, because I got a good deal on a fairly rare rv. My reason for posing these questions was to determine if a different vehicle is necessary, or can I get by with the OB for occasional use. Response to both of you as follows (and thank you, btw):

The trailer is a 2009 [email protected], very small, and will only be used for weekend trips; we won't be packing for a month in the boondocks. CORRECTION: it has electric brakes, not surge. Also, according to the spec sheet, all of the items on it are standard (i.e. leveling jacks, AC), and so I believe most are included in the stated vehicle weight (since other models with different standard features have a different stated weight). Of course, I realize that I can't ride around with full water tanks, and propane, battery, etc. have to be considered. We live in the Atlanta area, around 1000', and will be traveling mostly in the N Ga mountains (rarely above 2000') and occasionally to FL.

Also, I agree that Class II vs. Class III is a non-issue, which is why there is no mention of Class III in my post. The hitch is a TowPro, but was installed by the dealer, so I'll have to check to make sure it's Class II. And, although I don't have my owner's manual at the moment, I seriously doubt it says anything about a CVT.

Bottom line, I'm not asking if the 05 2.5 Turbo is the best vehicle to tow this trailer; clearly it is not. I just wondered if it would be adequate for occasional use. When I saw the other post where the guy was "considering" towing over 4000#, I just assumed that under 2500# might not be unreasonable.

Again, I appreciate your taking the time to address my questions.

RKM
Few weeks ago I was towing my 1800 # teardrop trailer through BearTooth Highway (Wyoming and Montana) at elevation close to 11,000 ft and very steep grades and my 2011 OB 3.6 R performed perfectly...On the entire trip from Alberta, Canada to US (I did 3500 miles) my average mileage was 20.1 MPG (US gallons) ...which I consider extraordinary.
I know now for sure that OB 3.6 R ( Subaru specs limitations of 3000#) has real capacity to tow very comfortably the trailer up to 2000# in the mountains.
I speculate that for 4 Cyl OB it might be a tall order based on many posts on this forum. The small difference in Subaru specs (3000# vs. 2700# towing capacity) might not reflect 3.6 R advantages in 2000# towing range...
 

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Few weeks ago I was towing my 1800 # teardrop trailer through BearTooth Highway (Wyoming and Montana) at elevation close to 11,000 ft and very steep grades and my 2011 OB 3.6 R performed perfectly...On the entire trip from Alberta, Canada to US (I did 3500 miles) my average mileage was 20.1 MPG (US gallons) ...which I consider extraordinary.
I know now for sure that OB 3.6 R ( Subaru specs limitations of 3000#) has real capacity to tow very comfortably the trailer up to 2000# in the mountains.
I speculate that for 4 Cyl OB it might be a tall order based on many posts on this forum. The small difference in Subaru specs (3000# vs. 2700# towing capacity) might not reflect 3.6 R advantages in 2000# towing range...
Plus your Gen 4 car is larger, and weighs 300 pounds more than a Gen 3.......

The Beartooth Hwy (and also the nearby Chief Joseph Hwy) is drop dead gorgeous and a magnet for sports cars due to the tight curves and high speed limit. It's now officially closed until late next Spring. Can you post some pics in the Gallery Forum?

Are you sure you did the math right on the fuel economy? Your figure seems pretty hard to accept, considering the altitude, grades and load...... I would have guessed maybe 18 US mpg at the very best......

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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When I saw the other post where the guy was "considering" towing over 4000#, I just assumed that under 2500# might not be unreasonable.
I assume I'm the "other guy" you're referring to. Yes, I'm considering towing 4000lbs with an Outback XT. Please don't use my craziness as a measuring stick. My towing experience includes one uhaul trailer from Philadelphia to West Virginia with a Chevy Express van. The end. I dunno what the heck I'm doing.
 

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another Outback towing question- Brenderup horse trailer

I am considering purchasing a 1700 lb. horse trailer to tow with my 2010 2.5 liter engine Outback Limited. Brenderup trailers are lightweight, designed in Belgium for smaller European vehicles to tow horses. This is a single horse trailer, has all wheel inertia brakes, independent torsion, is very stable and requires 120 hp and wheelbase of 93". It made of a lightweight resin composite and requires a class 2 hitch. My horses weighs just under 1000 lbs so we are close to the maximum weight when he is loaded. The use would be a couple of times a month, under 50 miles to local horse shows and trail rides.
Has anyone had experience hauling a Brenderup trailer with a Suburu? I hate to pass this up as these trailers are hard to find and my friend is selling this one. However, this is a live animal, not a boat or camper. The Suburu mechanic I talked to felt we were okay as long as I didn't exceed the 2700 limit. Looking for thoughts/opinions.....Thanks!
 

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The verdict...so far.

Well, just as nature abhors a vacuum, I abhor an unresolved forum post, so here are my results/observations so far. After consideration of the excellent technical and theoretical advice provided here, as well as numerous real-world Outback towing experiences I found on various RV and boating forums (which basically said "no problem"), I decided to go for it. I had a 7-pin connector and brake control installed. I then hitched it up and pulled it down and up my incredibly steep driveway and around my hilly neighborhood; no problem at all. We started looking for a campsite in the mountains for a maiden voyage, but not much available because of leaf season. We finally found a campsite two hours away at Black Rock Mountain State Park, "the highest State Park in Georgia". When you turn off the highway into the park, the elevation is about 2100'; when you get to the campground two miles later, it's almost 3700' (sign says "over 8% grades ahead"). The car towed like a charm all the way to the park entrance; no change in water temp and no AT temp warning. However, about halfway up the mountain, the water temp started rising, but never got past about 3/4 or close to red. If it had been another mile, I think I might have had trouble, maybe pull over and rest a bit. But, overall, I was very impressed with the performance, and have no concerns about the vehicle's ability. The electric brake control is definitely a must. As an aside, I read on some site that these cars are rated at 4000# in Europe, where they are actually required to test them for towing capacity. I didn't do any research on whether this was true, but I do know they tow bigger loads with smaller vehicles over there. And I also know this car will pull close to 2500# straight up the side of a mountain with barely a complaint.
 

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In EU they also have completely different hitches with much sturdier attachment to the body frame. The hitch ball (different diameter than here) is integrated with the hitch itself (one piece) and cannot be removed. In the Netherlands, just about everybody has some sort of a small RV that they haul for their summer vacations in Southern Europe. Many of them are unsafe but they use them anyway.
 

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I have a 2012 3.6R. I just did a 2400 mile trip towing from SE Idaho to Yuma, AZ via crater Lake and down US 395. Towed a utility trailer that weighted in at 2200 lbs. I averaged 20 mpg on the trip. The 3.6 pulled all the grades with no problem. I would recommend a transmission cooler. I have one and a transmission temperature gauge. I had a couple times in Crater Lake where my transmission temps got into the 240 range. With the gauge I was able to down shift even though the engine did not need to but the transmission was telling me I needed to. I have sway control which was not needed but I wanted the extra insurance to handle big rigs when they pass you on two lane roads.
 

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I have a 2012 3.6R. I just did a 2400 mile trip towing from SE Idaho to Yuma, AZ via crater Lake and down US 395. Towed a utility trailer that weighted in at 2200 lbs. I averaged 20 mpg on the trip. The 3.6 pulled all the grades with no problem. I would recommend a transmission cooler. I have one and a transmission temperature gauge. I had a couple times in Crater Lake where my transmission temps got into the 240 range. With the gauge I was able to down shift even though the engine did not need to but the transmission was telling me I needed to. I have sway control which was not needed but I wanted the extra insurance to handle big rigs when they pass you on two lane roads.
Hey Lava - what were the outside temps? This plays a huge role in cooling capacity with the engine and the AT.
 

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Hey Lava - what were the outside temps? This plays a huge role in cooling capacity with the engine and the AT.
The 240 was inside Crater Lake NP. Temperature was not very high possibly 75. The grades were about 8% but the speed limit is low (35). Thus the transmission if left to it's own was keeping the rpm's low. Had no problem with engine temperature it stayed at 200 as it did on the entire trip. The 3.6 will pull hard in the 2000 rpm range. Not sure but it must produce good torque in the low rpm's.
 

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The 240 was inside Crater Lake NP. Temperature was not very high possibly 75. The grades were about 8% but the speed limit is low (35). Thus the transmission if left to it's own was keeping the rpm's low. Had no problem with engine temperature it stayed at 200 as it did on the entire trip. The 3.6 will pull hard in the 2000 rpm range. Not sure but it must produce good torque in the low rpm's.
With the 2.5 I found that when the outside temps started getting into the 80's to high 80's is when the stock cooling starts to really loose its efficiency to handle the extra heat from heavy loads.

For sure with AT's locking them into a gear and not letting them hunt while doing long hard climbs helps reduce heat by keeping them locked up etc. The pulling power with the H6 is very similar to the 2.5 over the years I've found the sweet spot is around 2800-3000 with 3200 being about as far as I go if we need to pick it up a hair - like a mile per hour or two more for whatever reason etc. The trick is being familiar with the torque curve knowing where the engine starts to make a fair amount of torque at the lowest rpm range and knowing where the torque starts to taper off etc. Which case on long hard climbs you target the lower end of that rpm range where torque is pretty decent this way your getting good pulling power yet keeping heat generation down as much as possible. Ramping up the RPM's might get you a little more speed but it also generates far more heat which case on hard climbs thats your ultimate enemy.

Sounds like a good trip!
 

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The road elevations in Crater Lake NP run from about 6,000-7,000 feet ... would that be a factor in overheating?
Only if your hauling a heavy trailer in hot temps. I passed through there in early summer late June and the temps were in the mid 80's at the top even though most of the secondary roads were still under about 3ft of snow pack. It was pushing 100 down in Medford that week. I would not have wanted to tow our 1700lb boat through that- but our 900lb tent trailer would have been fine.

We do that trip once a year running from Medford visiting family then up the Rogue River across through Bend to Eastern Washington to visit more family. We go with the roof box no trailer however when the kids get a little older I can see us taking the tent trailer and making a few side stops and doing a little camping to check out the volcanoes etc.
 
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