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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, we just cancelled our order for a '22 FW after getting nervous that it would not have enough hp/torque for a 1900 pound camper that we intend to buy. Back to figuring out a tow vehicle. We are now looking at the Outback Wilderness, or the new '23 Outback Onyx turbo. Both seem to meet the needs of towing the Alto r1723 camper. For all those that tow campers with their Outback, which would you endorse as a tow vehicle? Or do you wish you had a different tow vehicle? If so, why? We are total newbies with towing. If we move forward with the Outback as our tow vehicle, what should we be considering/any advise when building the order?
 

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I haven't towed a camper yet but I have towed some heavy utility trailers (carrying stuff) that were almost double the 1,900 lbs you are looking to tow, and my car did fine. I imagine either the Wilderness or the Onyx XT would do the job just as well. You do get a higher final drive ratio with the Wilderness (4.44 vs. 4.11) when compared to all other Outback XT trims, so that helps the Wilderness trim have better low end torque and (I think) slightly better throttle response.

If you plan to tow extensively, I would highly recommend the OEM hitch instead of anything aftermarket. The OEM hitch does only come with a 4-pin connector, so you would have to get a 7-pin connector plus brake controller aftermarket, but the OEM hitch is significantly better designed, so worth the additional cost.

The only other thing to keep in mind is that when towing, you are required to use 91 octane (or more) minimum. It is worth mentioning, though, that if the Ascent is of any consideration to you, then you are free to use 87 octane all the time even when towing. But either of the Outback trims you are looking at will be plenty capable for a 1,900 lb trailer
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
[QUOTE="Carnerd, post: 6266543, member: 543743"
The only other thing to keep in mind is that when towing, you are required to use 91 octane (or more) minimum.
[/QUOTE]

This is the first I am reading of this, which is why I am here, asking questions. It's a significant consideration. This will also be an everyday vehicle, but we also hope to do a lot of camping in retirement, so that additional gas expense is noted. I would be fine with the Ascent. My partner thinks it's too much car for an everyday vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
[QUOTE="Carnerd, post: 6266543, member: 543743"}

The only other thing to keep in mind is that when towing, you are required to use 91 octane (or more) minimum. It is worth mentioning, though, that if the Ascent is of any consideration to you, then you are free to use 87 octane all the time even when towing. But either of the Outback trims you are looking at will be plenty capable for a 1,900 lb trailer
[/QUOTE]

This is the first I am reading of this, which is why I am here, asking questions. It's a significant consideration. This will also be an everyday vehicle, but we also hope to do a lot of camping in retirement, so that additional gas expense is noted. I would be fine with the Ascent. My partner thinks it's too much car for an everyday vehicle.
 

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The owner's manual for the Gen 6 Outback is pretty specific about this. With the turbo engine, you are fine to use 87 octane for everyday driving, but when towing, you are required to use 91+. Worth noting that the non-turbo Outbacks are still rated to tow up to 2,700 pounds, and those engines only need 87 even when towing. For 2023, you can even get the Onyx Edition with the standard 2.5 engine. Obviously the turbo engines in the Outback gives you a bit more headroom, but so does the Ascent.

What I don't know is what sort of mpg the Ascent typically gets when towing a camper. I do know that on my Outback with premium gas, I'm looking at about 12-14 mpg at 65-70 mph when towing a 2,500 lbs trailer (depending on aerodynamics of the trailer). At 45-50 mph with the same trailer, I got as much as 20mpg. I imagine the Ascent would get comparable mpg when towing except with 87 octane.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The owner's manual for the Gen 6 Outback is pretty specific about this. With the turbo engine, you are fine to use 87 octane for everyday driving, but when towing, you are required to use 91+. Worth noting that the non-turbo Outbacks are still rated to tow up to 2,700 pounds, and those engines only need 87 even when towing. For 2023, you can even get the Onyx Edition with the standard 2.5 engine. Obviously the turbo engines in the Outback gives you a bit more headroom, but so does the Ascent.

What I don't know is what sort of mpg the Ascent typically gets when towing a camper. I do know that on my Outback with premium gas, I'm looking at about 12-14 mpg at 65-70 mph when towing a 2,500 lbs trailer (depending on aerodynamics of the trailer). At 45-50 mph with the same trailer, I got as much as 20mpg. I imagine the Ascent would get comparable mpg when towing except with 87 octane.
We want something with more hp/torque than the standard engine. You have highlighted something else to weigh in our decision making process. Not the news I wanted, but I'd rather figure that out now than later. In the end, when we weigh all the pros and cons of any tow vehicle we are considering, the cost for high octane gas/gas mileage might cancel out with another vehicle that gets lower gas mileage on the daily.
 

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Honestly, I would consider something other than an OB if buying a car specifically to tow.
The OB has a lot of compromises insofar as being a tow vehicle. It's a car that has some tow capability, but it is really not an ideal tow vehicle.

I've seen recommendations to find a vehicle with double the expected tow weight for capacity. I'm not claiming anyone needs a Ram 3500 to pull a 4x8 trailer but I would buy something other than an OB if I were shopping for a tow vehicle.
Even for a lightweight 1900# camper, I'd look for something with a full frame and at least V6 power.
 

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Might be way outside of what you've been considering, but take a look at an AWD Maverick.
You can get a 4k tow package on the AWD Eco Boost and people are still reporting great gas mileage with those.
 

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Even for a lightweight 1900# camper, I'd look for something with a full frame and at least V6 power.
That's not bad advice in general, but in the current market, are there genuinely that many options for a body-on-frame vehicle at around the $40k-ish price tag of an Outback Wilderness/XT, that also comes with most of the creature comforts and safety of the Outback? The only 4Runner you will get for under $40k is the absolute base model, and that also gets 15mpg highway even when not towing, although it does run on regular gas. Not to mention, I've seen plenty of YouTube reviews that say that the 4Runner is not great at towing despite its 5k lbs towing capacity due to the ancient 5-speed/NA V6 combo, which makes the vehicle pretty lethargic. The Tacoma is probably slightly better but still won't be as comfortable as the Outback for daily driving.

Any half ton pickup truck with any amount of equipment and 4 wheel drive nowadays is $50k or more.

The only other option I can think of that can still be had under $40k is maybe a Dodge Durango. That's unibody but either the 3.6 V6 or 5.7 V8 are rated to tow 7k lbs or more. But that comes with the wild variable of Chrysler reliability.

What else is out there that's good for towing, well equipped, scores high in safety, and still available for $40k? Not trying to start an argument - I'm genuinely curious.
 

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The Only One
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The Foz Wilderness and the Outback Wilderness have the same tow ratings.

3500 lbs and 350 tongue. This is almost double what you're looking to tow.

Either vehicle would be acceptable.

The Outback will require premium fuel when towing however I do not believe the Forester does.

The Forester will excel with gas mileage versus that of the Outback.

If you were looking for something larger to tow I would consider a large vehicle but a vehicle towing less than 2000 lbs it's not worth considering something larger.

I say this as a person that has a vehicle with a Class 5 12000 lb hitch and has personally towed 4000 lbs with a 2017 Subaru.
 

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Some members have reported towing with 87 gas with no issues, but I would recommend sticking to the 91 octane rating when towing over 1000 pounds just in case. They added that instruction "to prevent overheating". It may depend on how heavy you are towing and if it includes going up long hills/mountains etc.

The Ascent has a larger radiator and larger radiator mounted transmission cooler (except the Base Ascent doesn't have a radiator mounted trans cooler).

The Ascent also has larger brakes and 500 pound tongue weight limit. The Outback tongue weight limit is 350 pounds.

The weight for your 1900 pound camper is empty? When you fill it full of fluids and stuff it can be considerably heavier so take that into consideration. You may also decide that you want a bigger camper in the future.

So if this is for occasional towing the Outback XT should be fine within its limits, but if towing is going to be the main duty of the vehicle, I'd go with the refreshed 2023 Ascent to avoid any unforeseen limitations.

While it's unwise to get more car than you need, it's also unwise to get less car than you need. Conundrum.
 

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While not heavy, that trailer is going to look pretty large behind a forester or outback. Only you can decide how much towing you need, and this camper does seem to meet the requirements for the midsize subarus. Remember that you need to include gear loaded inside the car when calculating the total payload.

Typically 2 vehicles are mentioned when folks upgrade from the outback,a Toyota 4runner and Jeep Grand Cherokee. I think the Jeep tows more -around 7000 pounds, while a 4runner is 5000.

If you want to stick to a compact SUV, the Jeep Cherokee has the best tow rating at 4500 pounds.
 

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I tow a 1500 pound “squaredrop” (give or take depending on water etc) with an OB Touring XT. I’ve been taking it on some pretty rough and pretty steep dirt roads in the Colorado Rockies. It does really well. The only mods I’ve made are stiffer springs in the rear and AT tires. I’ve started monitoring CVT temperature and it’s never gotten high enough to be concerned (except it was climbing quickly when my wife unwittingly ramped up to 92 mph on I-25!!…we lived!!). Plenty of power, no trailer sway. You’ll be fine with either turbo. The lift on the OBW might diminish handling while towing but I doubt it.

edit - I’ve been using 87 octane. No issues. Not sure if I’ll switch to 91 for towing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well, we are on to different pastures. I could never really "sell" my partner on the Outback. Its too much of a station wagon for her. She was cool when we originally started with the Forester Wilderness. I drive a '16 Forester, love it, and see this make as my forever car. When we became concerned about the hp/torque on the FW, we veered over to the Outback. I could be very happy with it, but she just can't stomache paying that much for a car (which will be her primary vehicle) that she does not love. Lots of folks on the Altoiste fb group love the Toyato Hylander Hybrid and the Honda Ridgeline. The former is out of our price point. She drove the latter yesterday and fell in love. So I'm tagging along today for the test drive, and if I'm on board, we will move in that direction. It's several grand more than we want to spend, but it checks all the boxes for towing, and according to her, drives like a very comfortable but not too big SUV. Like someone said - not too much car, but also not too little. This has been a long couple of weeks trying to narrow this decision down, and both this and the Forester forum have been invaluable in our process. Thanks so much. I'm sad to not be a 2 Subaru household, but I am a loyalist and will always drive a Subaru . . . unless someone wants to give me a Tesla:)
 

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One thing that should give you comfort re: towing is that these days, all manufacturers follow SAE J2807 towing capacity standards, unlike the old days, where tow ratings were very much a wild west. The test is very rigorous (basically, it includes a LONG pull up a steep grade in hot Arizona summer conditions with no overheating), so you should feel ok towing close to the capacity, provided that you're not doing it every day (so a camper that gets used one or two weekends a month and a week or two in the summer, versus a utility trailer for a lawn care business). But, be sure to not exceed the payload and capacity ratings.

For perspective, Subaru reduced the tow rating on the Forester in 2013, when they began following the new standard. See the long thread in the Forester Forum about this.

I bought my Outback so I could have a good commuter that can also tow a small camper or kayak/sail dinghy trailer occasionally. But I'm going to limit my trailers to ones that are rated for a total gross of 2000 lbs., just to have plenty of margin for error.
 

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The Only One
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Well, we are on to different pastures. I could never really "sell" my partner on the Outback. Its too much of a station wagon for her. She was cool when we originally started with the Forester Wilderness. I drive a '16 Forester, love it, and see this make as my forever car. When we became concerned about the hp/torque on the FW, we veered over to the Outback. I could be very happy with it, but she just can't stomache paying that much for a car (which will be her primary vehicle) that she does not love. Lots of folks on the Altoiste fb group love the Toyato Hylander Hybrid and the Honda Ridgeline. The former is out of our price point. She drove the latter yesterday and fell in love. So I'm tagging along today for the test drive, and if I'm on board, we will move in that direction. It's several grand more than we want to spend, but it checks all the boxes for towing, and according to her, drives like a very comfortable but not too big SUV. Like someone said - not too much car, but also not too little. This has been a long couple of weeks trying to narrow this decision down, and both this and the Forester forum have been invaluable in our process. Thanks so much. I'm sad to not be a 2 Subaru household, but I am a loyalist and will always drive a Subaru . . . unless someone wants to give me a Tesla:)
I really dig the Ridgeline myself. I think the newer ones get the ZF9 instead of Honda's own 6 speed automatic.
 

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That's not bad advice in general, but in the current market, are there genuinely that many options for a body-on-frame vehicle at around the $40k-ish price tag of an Outback Wilderness/XT, that also comes with most of the creature comforts and safety of the Outback? The only 4Runner you will get for under $40k is the absolute base model, and that also gets 15mpg highway even when not towing, although it does run on regular gas. Not to mention, I've seen plenty of YouTube reviews that say that the 4Runner is not great at towing despite its 5k lbs towing capacity due to the ancient 5-speed/NA V6 combo, which makes the vehicle pretty lethargic. The Tacoma is probably slightly better but still won't be as comfortable as the Outback for daily driving.

Any half ton pickup truck with any amount of equipment and 4 wheel drive nowadays is $50k or more.

The only other option I can think of that can still be had under $40k is maybe a Dodge Durango. That's unibody but either the 3.6 V6 or 5.7 V8 are rated to tow 7k lbs or more. But that comes with the wild variable of Chrysler reliability.

What else is out there that's good for towing, well equipped, scores high in safety, and still available for $40k? Not trying to start an argument - I'm genuinely curious.
The Jeep Cherokee with the V-6 engine AND (very important!) the factory tow package is rated for 5,000 pounds; the Grand Cherokee AND the factory towing package is rated for 6,200 pounds with the V-6 and 7,200 with the V-8. Those tow packages include the hitch, wiring harness, a slightly different transaxle geared for low-end torque, auxiliary oil cooler, and suspension upgrades (adjustable air suspension on the Grand Cherokee). You should be able to get a new Cherokee for under $40K in either the top Limited or Trailhawk (more features for off-roading such as skid plates, tire/wheels, and suspension) trims; you might have to look at a two or three-year-old Grand Cherokee to get under $40K, although you might be able to squeeze under that with a lower trim model.

Without the factory tow packages, the Cherokee is rated at 2,000 pounds, and the Grand Cherokee limit is 3,000 pounds.

You also might be able to get a lower trim Toyota Highlander or Nissan Pathfinder with their tow packages for under $40K.
 

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The Jeep Cherokee with the V-6 engine AND (very important!) the factory tow package is rated for 5,000 pounds; the Grand Cherokee AND the factory towing package is rated for 6,200 pounds with the V-6 and 7,200 with the V-8. Those tow packages include the hitch, wiring harness, a slightly different transaxle geared for low-end torque, auxiliary oil cooler, and suspension upgrades (adjustable air suspension on the Grand Cherokee). You should be able to get a new Cherokee for under $40K in either the top Limited or Trailhawk (more features for off-roading such as skid plates, tire/wheels, and suspension) trims; you might have to look at a two or three-year-old Grand Cherokee to get under $40K, although you might be able to squeeze under that with a lower trim model.

Without the factory tow packages, the Cherokee is rated at 2,000 pounds, and the Grand Cherokee limit is 3,000 pounds.

You also might be able to get a lower trim Toyota Highlander or Nissan Pathfinder with their tow packages for under $40K.
Every single vehicle you listed are unibody, though. The comment I was replying to recommended “something with a full frame…” and you just proved my point - it’s difficult to get something with a full frame and one that’s decently equipped for under $40k.

The Jeep Cherokee is a Subaru Forester-sized vehicle. I don’t care what the rating says, I absolutely would not tow 5,000 lbs with that car. Not to mention, you couldn’t pay me enough money to make me want to drive a Chrysler/Stellantis product. Same way with Nissan.

As for the Highlander? Great vehicle if really boring. But also, the AWD version of the Highlander is the only one that can tow the full 5,000 lbs, and in the current market, Toyota dealers around me are selling FWD Highlanders for well north of $40k. They’ll laugh me out of the room if I expect to get an AWD Highlander for under $40k.

Hence, I personally landed on the Outback.
 

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Might be way outside of what you've been considering, but take a look at an AWD Maverick.
You can get a 4k tow package on the AWD Eco Boost and people are still reporting great gas mileage with those.
But actually obtaining one is extremely difficult, most of not all mavericks you find will be either orders arriving for someone or have an insane dealer markup. I've seen 10k on a used one. Ranger can be had for cheaper.
 
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