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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just did a lot of reading of old threads. Is this a fair and accurate summary - have I missed anything important?

The big questions in deciding on a hitch seem to be "Do I want the tow bar hidden behind the bumper (requires cutting a notch on the underside of the bumper fascia)?" and "How much am I willing to pay?".

Only the OEM (1.25") and the Torklift hitches (1.25" or 2") hide the tow bar behind the bumper and as a result both require cutting the bumper fascia. OEM is most expensive ($350-$400), Torklift about $300 ($250 if you don't want a wiring kit).

Hidden Hitch, Draw-Tite, and U-Haul appear functionally equivalent and may actually be the same part with different labels. Available in both 1.25" and 2". Tow bar is visible so you don't have to cut the fascia. Price is $200 +/- $30; it varies with size and brand and whether or not you get wiring.

Curt also has 1.25" and 2" hitches. It's claim to fame seems to be round tubes - which are visible from behind (no cutting of the fascia). Also, this is alone in not using only factory holes - you need to drill a couple more to mount this one. Perhaps $5-10 cheaper than the HH/DT/UH hitch but given the vagaries of pricing I'd still call it ~$200.

Tertiary considerations. While all of these attach *plenty* securely for any sane / normal usage, the OEM hitch might have the sturdiest attachment. However, it also protrudes the furthest (~2.5") from the bumper - some people call it a potential shin buster. Torklift seems to be alone in not using carriage bolts with keyed backing plates which makes the install just a little more difficult because the bolts/nuts can spin. Not a show stopper by any means and the addition of a star washer to their kit has partially mitigated this complaint. Also, you can't seem to get Torklift's installation instructions without buying the hitch. I'd have liked to look at them before deciding.

In case someone reads this without reading all the other info out there: if you remove the bumper using Subaru's instructions, all these hitches can be installed without drilling extra frame holes (except the Curt). 3rd party installers (and the aftermarket instructions) usually drill largish holes in the frame to insert bolts and backing plates through rather than go through the extra labor of removing the bumper.

- Bill
 

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http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...stabilizing-straps-needed-torklift-hitch.html

I did a short write up. I did have to trim "very Little" off of the very inside of the bumper. Think filed a 1/8" area of about a 1/8" of material.
Very high quality materials. Think about it. The manufacturers do not want to get sued. The hitches must all meet a standard.

You do drill a 1 1/8" hole into the frame. I believe this is ok since you are literally piggybacking the hitch frame to the Subaru frame. Much stronger together than as individual pieces.


Hope this helps,
Patrick
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ah, thanks. I missed that - didn't think to look in the General Forums and I should have. It's interesting how much more visible the Hidden Hitch is on the CRV vs the Outback.

I did have to trim "very Little" off of the very inside of the bumper. Think filed a 1/8" area of about a 1/8" of material.
The metal bumper or the plastic fascia? Or the heat shield?

I think all of them need a little trimming somewhere except the OEM hitch.

Very high quality materials. Think about it. The manufacturers do not want to get sued. The hitches must all meet a standard.
Oh, for sure. I wouldn't be the least bit worried about the safety of any of these. It's mostly looks, price, and whether or not you want a 2" receiver.

You do drill a 1 1/8" hole into the frame. I believe this is ok since you are literally piggybacking the hitch frame to the Subaru frame. Much stronger together than as individual pieces.
If I am understanding you correctly, that's the hole you can do without if you remove the bumper to expose the ends of the frame rails. The OEM instructions describe this method but HH doesn't. Torklift added it as an option to their instructions at some point.

- Bill
 

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The heat shields do get trimmed. I cut them with a pair of scissors. Very very simple. The inside bottom of the bumper (plastic) barely touched the hitch. I did trim 1/8" at the point of contact. Very easy to do. I did drill the holes. Not at all concerned. The piggyback design adds some significant steel to the area. On the honda the mount holes are threaded. Different set up but still plenty strong. The honda does sit differently and the hitch is round stock versus square on the subaru. I sold the crv to a friend who wanted a hitch. So it is a surprise for her. ;)
 

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2012 Limited Outback CVT 2.5i with OEM: Hitch, Hood Protector, & Remote Start.
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Great Summary, both fair and accurate!

I just did a lot of reading of old threads. Is this a fair and accurate summary - have I missed anything important?

The big questions in deciding on a hitch seem to be "Do I want the tow bar hidden behind the bumper (requires cutting a notch on the underside of the bumper fascia)?" and "How much am I willing to pay?".

Only the OEM (1.25") and the Torklift hitches (1.25" or 2") hide the tow bar behind the bumper and as a result both require cutting the bumper fascia. OEM is most expensive ($350-$400), Torklift about $300 ($250 if you don't want a wiring kit).

Hidden Hitch, Draw-Tite, and U-Haul appear functionally equivalent and may actually be the same part with different labels. Available in both 1.25" and 2". Tow bar is visible so you don't have to cut the fascia. Price is $200 +/- $30; it varies with size and brand and whether or not you get wiring.

Curt also has 1.25" and 2" hitches. It's claim to fame seems to be round tubes - which are visible from behind (no cutting of the fascia). Also, this is alone in not using only factory holes - you need to drill a couple more to mount this one. Perhaps $5-10 cheaper than the HH/DT/UH hitch but given the vagaries of pricing I'd still call it ~$200.

Tertiary considerations. While all of these attach *plenty* securely for any sane / normal usage, the OEM hitch might have the sturdiest attachment. Torklift seems to be alone in not using carriage bolts with keyed backing plates which makes the install just a little more difficult because the bolts/nuts can spin. Not a show stopper by any means and the addition of a star washer to their kit has partially mitigated this complaint. Also, you can't seem to get Torklift's installation instructions without buying the hitch. I'd have liked to look at them before deciding.

In case someone reads this without reading all the other info out there: if you remove the bumper using Subaru's instructions, all these hitches can be installed without drilling extra frame holes (except the Curt). 3rd party installers (and the aftermarket instructions) usually drill largish holes in the frame to insert bolts and backing plates through rather than go through the extra labor of removing the bumper.

- Bill
Nice write-up, Bill. Because of some mix up in communication at the accessory shop which is owned by Toyota & Subaru here in NJ, I got the Factory OEM hitch installed for $300. I'm very happy with it for what I use it for: towing a small aluminum boat that weights almost nothing, and an occaisonal bike rack with two bikes for summer cruising the bike trails in Rhode Island. If I lived in Seattle, WA the Torklift version would've been what I got, it just seems "too cool". Reading through all the threads on here 18 months ago I think you summed it up quite nicely. Thank you!:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Nice write-up, Bill. [...] Reading through all the threads on here 18 months ago I think you summed it up quite nicely. Thank you!:eek:
Thanks for the kind words - except I forgot to mention that the OEM hitch sticks out further than any of the others! :) I'll go edit the first post because that does seem to be a big deal for some people, though I don't think it would bother me.
 

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I like to find a factory hitch.. but not pay 400+ I like to stay factory on any thing towing related.
 

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2019 Bronze Limited
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I would have gone factory if they had a 2 in rec option but since they don't, I went with Uhaul.

Sent from AutoGuide.com App
 

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2005 3.0 R n totaled
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I would have gone factory if they had a 2 in rec option but since they don't, I went with Uhaul.

Sent from AutoGuide.com App
And so did I - I am happy with U-haul hitch, made by Cequent company. I did the wiring myself after purchasing the plug-in harness from etrailer.com...all for under $ 200 !
 

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2012 Outback 2.5i CVT
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The manufacturers do not want to get sued. The hitches must all meet a standard.
I thought the same thing, figuring there is a standard for almost everything else in the automotive world. Crazy thing about towing is that there isn't a standard as per the government. SAE just instituted one a few years back, the first time ever, and there is a thread on subaruoutback.org about it. In the end none of the auto makers need to follow the SAE standard as it is not a government requirement. Part of the standard is that the hitch must not deflect after a certain number of seconds with the trailer attached to the hitch (a static deflection test), and may only rotate 5 degrees throughout all the test events.

Hopefully the aftermarket hitch companies run a couple tests just to make sure things are holding up with respect to attachment points. My guess is one or two companies spring for the test and others just look at that for confirmation. When it comes to the actual hitch itself holding up, all of the aftermarket designs for cars like an Outback are probably just over-designed using historical knowledge. It's probably not until you get to bigger trucks with high load capacities that hitch companies probably worry much about failures in the hitch itself. This is just a guess but my TorkLift hitch is made of real thick steel compared with what I connect it to on the vehicle. No way the hitch fails before the car's frame does.
 

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2013 Outback Limited, 2.5i, moonroof and all weather package
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I wonder, which hitch model or brand does not require frame drilling for the installation?
My understanding is that you can do the non-drill with any brand hitch. You just have to remove the bumper cover to do it.
 

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I wonder, which hitch model or brand does not require frame drilling for the installation?
Most do not. So far as I know the Curt brand one is the only major manufacturer to require drilling; there may be a couple others but HiddenHitch, Draw-Tite, Uhaul, and TorkLift do not require drilling. TorkLift may require some small bending or trimming of the sheet metal behind your plastic bumper, usually about 1/4 inch or so.
 

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Torklift seems to be alone in not using carriage bolts with keyed backing plates which makes the install just a little more difficult because the bolts/nuts can spin. Not a show stopper by any means and the addition of a star washer to their kit has partially mitigated this complaint. Also, you can't seem to get Torklift's installation instructions without buying the hitch. I'd have liked to look at them before deciding.
It is a little annoying that they didn't use keyed washers to prevent the spinning, but it wasn't that hard to get a wrench into the frame tube to hold to top of the bolt in place and wrench it down.

The instructions.....aren't all that great. I can scan them and send them out if you want, but I didn't follow them. I followed the excellent writeup that a member of this site wrote up (and some of the subaru OEM hitch install instructions for removing the bumper).

In case someone reads this without reading all the other info out there: if you remove the bumper using Subaru's instructions, all these hitches can be installed without drilling extra frame holes (except the Curt). 3rd party installers (and the aftermarket instructions) usually drill largish holes in the frame to insert bolts and backing plates through rather than go through the extra labor of removing the bumper.
The only things I had to cut/drill are the square hold in the bottom of the bumper plastic and I did also have to drill a hole in the exhaust heat shield so that the bolt could go through it. Both very easy to do, not visible at all from anywhere but under the car, and look very nice.
 

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if I'm interested in a 2" hitch and do NOT want to drill anything onto the Frame (removing bumper), what is(are) my options(s). (I know the OEM is out).

Also, when removing bumper, how many "christmas" tree looking screw I need to get/replace?
 

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if I'm interested in a 2" hitch and do NOT want to drill anything onto the Frame (removing bumper), what is(are) my options(s). (I know the OEM is out).

Also, when removing bumper, how many "christmas" tree looking screw I need to get/replace?
i have an oem hitch and had to remove the bumper and remove material.

for an aftermarket 2" hitch and using the factory install method i imagine all the mounting hardware would be included with the hitch you go with.

and you would reuse the existing hardware when you remove your factory bumper.

did i miss something...?

joel
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Since I started this thread I thought I ought to followup with my final decision.

I went with the 2" Torklift.

2" because for the same price, why not have more accessories available to me? Even though I have no current plans to do anything but tow the occasional trailer. I suppose the 1.25" model would have saved a little weight.

Torklift because the extra $75 vs. a Hidden Hitch was worth it to me to hide the towbar. It was close decision though.

I really couldn't come up with a good enough reason to spend yet $100 more for the Subaru hitch - other than the warm fuzzy feelings OEM parts provide. If I had to quantify that, I guess it would boil down to there being no bending or cutting of body and heat shields - however minor. That, and it's been suggested the aftermarket hitches reinforce the frame rails in a way that could alter the performance of the crumple zone in a crash. If I weren't installing it myself, being able to have the dealer do it would be a warm fuzzy too.
 

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I wanted to note that I tossed a few e-mails to the TorkLift team and after a few questions the fellow just sent me a PDF with the instructions. Seems to me that they're not keen on sharing them, but will if you "prove" to them that you really are interested in putting the hitch on your vehicle and just want to know what to expect.

Out of respect for their property I don't plan to post the instructions, but do encourage you to e-mail them with questions. Responses were delivered within minutes and were very helpful.
 
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