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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello Outbackers

We are purchasing a 2018 Pro Lite lounge Travel Trailer to tow behind our 2017 2.5 Subaru Outback.

The dry weight lists at 1485 and tongue weight at 155.

1. Can someone please help me to identify exactly what I need to tow this thing...Which:
- Hitch (what class and any recommendations on brand)
- Brake Controller (which one is functional yet small for inside cockpit)
Any other needs beside 7” wiring and 2” ball?

2. How much should I expect to pay for installation of hitch etc? Can I go to standard mechanic or do I need Subaru or RV dealer?

3. Load Weight Distribution:
If I have wife, baby and I all together about 300 lbs.and we keep trailer weight fully loaded at about 2200 lbs )(distributed evenly). How do I distribute added wieght in Outback?

Can I put some clothes etc in roof cargo carrier?
How much weight can I put in trunk area so as not to mess with tongue weight limit of 200 lbs?

Thank you for support!
Todd
 

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A different tow vehicle, you will work that 2.5 to death....... >:)
 
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Interesting post. Although I'll never tow anything with my 2.5i, will be interesting to see if the OP pulls off this feat of patience/torture?

My first thought is that this is completely not the vehicle for towing anything beyond a small garden trailer, or maybe a single jet ski. With the projected loads I would be looking at a Chevy Colorado or Honda Ridgeline.
 

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Hello Outbackers

We are purchasing a 2018 Pro Lite lounge Travel Trailer to tow behind our 2017 2.5 Subaru Outback.


Thank you for support!
Todd
moved to the towing section where many threads exist and these issues have been brought up before.

where are you towing and when? (pacific north west coast in may:nerd:, is different then pikes peak in mid august :heat:).
 

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Hello Outbackers

We are purchasing a 2018 Pro Lite lounge Travel Trailer to tow behind our 2017 2.5 Subaru Outback.

The dry weight lists at 1485 and tongue weight at 155.

1. Can someone please help me to identify exactly what I need to tow this thing...Which:
- Hitch (what class and any recommendations on brand)
- Brake Controller (which one is functional yet small for inside cockpit)
Any other needs beside 7” wiring and 2” ball?

2. How much should I expect to pay for installation of hitch etc? Can I go to standard mechanic or do I need Subaru or RV dealer?

3. Load Weight Distribution:
If I have wife, baby and I all together about 300 lbs.and we keep trailer weight fully loaded at about 2200 lbs )(distributed evenly). How do I distribute added wieght in Outback?

Can I put some clothes etc in roof cargo carrier?
How much weight can I put in trunk area so as not to mess with tongue weight limit of 200 lbs?

Thank you for support!
Todd
That's a lot of questions and I'm about in the same boat you are. I have a 2017 2.5 and purchased an InTech RV Pursue. I skipped the kitchen option to keep down the weight. I don't have my trailer yet, so I can't say how well the 2.5 handles it, but I can answer some of your starting questions because I've done that part. I have joined an owners group for the trailer I'm getting and there are a couple that use Outbacks with the 2.5 and some smaller cars. They haven't reported any problems or difficulties towing. I would suggest looking for a group that supports your trailer and see if anyone with an Outback is towing them. I agree the 2.5 is a slug, but every answer on this board seems to be "you should've bought the H6" or "you should get the Ascent". Not exactly helpful.

I would highly recommend etrailer.com to start familiarizing yourself with towing equipment. I got all my gear from there and did the install myself. I've been playing with cars for 20 years, so I have some garage experience, but they have tons of videos that walk through everything.

As far a hitch is concerned, you'll need a class 3 (2"). I went with a DrawTite hitch. Cost is reasonable and I feel the way it mounts and extends under the chassis is going to be stronger than some of the "stealth" options like the Eco-Hitch. That looks to only mount behind the rear bumper area of the vehicle.

For a brake controller, I went with a Redarc Tow Pro Elite. It's a little more expensive than other options, but the "brain" mounts anywhere you can find a spot (hidden) and the control knob can mount in a different spot (uses a CAT5 cable to connect). I mounted the brain in a void under the front center console cubby (the spot where the power outlet and USB ports are). I mounted the control knob to the interior fuse box cover. This way, I can buy a new fuse box cover and there's no holes anywhere from the setup.

You'll need a 4 pin harness that will connect to the factory wiring located up near the rear drivers wheel well in the rear cargo area. You'll then have to use a kit to convert to a 7 pin so that you can use the trailer brakes and provide a trickle charge to your trailer 12v system. That part of the install gets a little more involved, but there's videos on etrailer.com to walk you through it.

I'll post some photos later. Hope that helps a little as a start.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
 

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The 2.5 tows fine. Anything under 1800lbs it does long trips comfortably. The 3.6 doesnt change that or the towing ability. The negative posters simply haven’t towed anything with a subaru or did it horribly wrong.

Roof box is fine and might help with trailer aerodynamics slightly. As for packed trunk you want to stay on the lighter side of the packed items given yes your tongue weight is impacted by trunk weight just think weight on rear springs trailer or trunk gear etc. My camp trailer is 900lbs empty and generally 1300-1600lbs packed depending on the trip etc. Some trips we have bikes on the roof of the car some trips we have the box. Just depends. Roof gear weight sits a bit farther forward I find it has less of a impact on the rear springs regarding setting from weight etc but its still a factor.

Trailer brakes are a good idea best option is a proper RV installer for a high quality brake controller.

For the trailer the first few trips its a good idea to weigh it. Especially the tongue weight so you start to get a sense of how the packed trailer carries the weight and how much weight it takes on. Once you get a sense of packed weight then your fine.

As for towing. The cvt does a really nice job towing. Things to keep in mind bikes on the roof quadruple the drag factor on the car a boxy tallish trailer does also. Many people don’t realize hot weather and flat highway speeds paired with a strong head wind can be as bad or worse as a long steep climb regarding stress on the cooling system. Yes given the right conditions you could over heat a car even with just bikes on the roof and flat highway driving.

It doesn’t matter if your driving a F350 diesel monster or a 2.5L Subaru you need to train your self to pay attention to your cars gauges and understand them. This prevents 100% of the dummy mistakes that result in big costly failures.

Long steep climbs I have found that the 2.5 does well when you settle into a 3200rpm and what ever speed you get is what you get during those long climbs. I will bump up to 3500rpm at times to get past slower traffic quicker etc. Never stay next to semi trucks any longer than nessisary speed up get past them!

Those long steep climbs I often pick a manual gear so its easier to hold 3200rpm vs the cvt jumping around with its ratios “thats only for steep climbs!”. The mild up and down stuff the cvt does awesome in AT mode.

Long down hill runs I use manual mode to pick a gear to help keep speed checked yes it makes a difference.

My old boat was 1800lbs 26ft hitch to stern annd 8.5ft wide. The 2.5 towed it great though that trailer also was the best towing trailer setup Ive ever had. That boat crossed Nevada Utah and Parts of Colorado doing 80+mph behind a Yukon without so much as a minor wobble. Trailer dynamics are largely affected by air flow and the geometry of the trailer. Boxy trailers can tow great till they don’t which typically is caused by air flow changes upsetting the trailer balance. Wind and truck slip streams can really upset an otherwise very stable boxy trailer. So keep that in mind as your towing do that and you’ll have a great experience. Don’t watch for those things and you will have moments of terror regardless of the tow vehicle being used.

Enjoy!! Do some local short trips to figure out your packing / gear along with weights etc. Then work up to the longer trips. Long highway trips maybe leave tanks empty to ease the burden the fill up closer to your destination etc. Even big RV types will do this.

Have fun, stay safe take your time.
 

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Hello Outbackers

We are purchasing a 2018 Pro Lite lounge Travel Trailer to tow behind our 2017 2.5 Subaru Outback.

The dry weight lists at 1485 and tongue weight at 155.

1. Can someone please help me to identify exactly what I need to tow this thing...Which:
- Hitch (what class and any recommendations on brand)
- Brake Controller (which one is functional yet small for inside cockpit)
Any other needs beside 7” wiring and 2” ball?

2. How much should I expect to pay for installation of hitch etc? Can I go to standard mechanic or do I need Subaru or RV dealer?

3. Load Weight Distribution:
If I have wife, baby and I all together about 300 lbs.and we keep trailer weight fully loaded at about 2200 lbs )(distributed evenly). How do I distribute added wieght in Outback?

Can I put some clothes etc in roof cargo carrier?
How much weight can I put in trunk area so as not to mess with tongue weight limit of 200 lbs?

Thank you for support!
Todd
Things to consider:

155 dry wt on the tongue. Once you get that trailer loaded, that wt might go up, be careful.

1484 empty. Again, once it's loaded, that will change. Probably not drastically, though. Adding a couple coolers of ice and water, plus camp chairs and food might be less than a couple hundred pounds. I'm not sure how light you travel, something to think about.

Your other questions:
1) Most convenient is a 2" receiver. Don't pay too much attention to "Class", since the OB limits are lower than most hitch capacities. Just make sure that whatever hitch you get is at least 300lb/3000lb.

Brake controllers will need to be installed by you or you can get most trailer dealers to do it for you.

The OB is prewired for a 4-flat wiring connector. You will need to get a 4-flat connector first, install that, and then install a 4-to-7 adapter that will carry the brake signals to the trailer. The connectors are pretty simple DIY or you can get them installed at the same time you do the brake controller. e-trailer has everything you'll need.

The ball will have to match the trailer, so check their website. It's pretty cheap. You will also have to get a drawbar. The ball is installed on one end and the other end fits into the trailer hitch. They come in various shapes to raise (rise) or lower (drop) the ball to keep the trailer level during towing. You will need to measure the trailer ball connector height, then measure your receiver height and do some simple math to find what works best.

2) Not sure about what a hitch will cost to have someone install it. Call around.

3) Loading the OB: On the door frame you'll see the weight limits. One should be the curb weight and the other will be the max weight. The difference will be how much you can load into it. The trailer tongue weight will be pushing down on the vehicle, so you have to add that into the cargo weight. Add in the weight of your family and all your stuff, plus the 200 lb on the tongue, and make sure it's less than the cargo limit. You will also see the axle weight limits, too, calculate how much you have in the trunk and add the 200 lb to that. Make sure that doesn't exceed the rear axle weight limit. The roof rack is probably limited to 150 lb, and that will have to include the weight of the cargo box.

You'll find that highway towing will be the hardest part. Wind resistance on the trailer will have a big effect on your driving. Keep an eye on your RPMs and learn what the engine and transmission temperature warning lights mean. You'll have to get used to being passed.
 

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No such thing as a load distributing hitch for Subarus. I like Drawtite they fit correctly and are solid never had an issue with them. Many people get caught up in looks over practical actual use. Like safety chain hard points that don’t result in chains resting against plastic bumper or require you to get your hand nicked up trying to hook up hidden safety chain hard points etc.
 

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No such thing as a load distributing hitch for Subarus. I like Drawtite they fit correctly and are solid never had an issue with them. Many people get caught up in looks over practical actual use. Like safety chain hard points that don’t result in chains resting against plastic bumper or require you to get your hand nicked up trying to hook up hidden safety chain hard points etc.
I have the DrawTite, too. No ragrets, not even a single letter.
 

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things to buy local to where you camp:

drinks, ice, firewood.

if you have a propane anything use the smallest bottles.
= no need to haul a typical back yard, 20lb BBQ bottle all over creation on the tongue.
 

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Trailer sway!! Lets talk a little about this. The number one largest contributor to sway is speed. If at any point due to wind, weird extra packed weight, starting to pass a semi and the trailer starts to sway side to side Let OFF the gas and start slowing down!!!! Maintaining your speed or accelerating will increase sway and eventually wipe you right off the road. The only anti sway driver reaction is to SLOW DOWN!!!!

There is a trick to get a sense of how sensitive your trailer might be to external factors leading to sway.

So the most unstable point in towing period is when your in a turn and also brake at the same time. Rookie trailer towing drivers will brake while turning. Experienced towing drivers will brake before turns and avoid braking during the turn.

So if you have a long gradual sweeping turn some place near home preferably a turn with a 40+mph speed you can get a sense of your trailers stability by braking lightly mid turn. Even decently stable trailers will exibit very very slight sway around 45mph in long sweeping turns with light brake pressure.

If the trailer sways side to side more than 6inches or so at 40-45mph under very light braking you can expect much more exaggerated sway at higher speeds with Semi draft wash and or winds or higher speed turns. I would look into sway control systems or really review the trailer weight balance given its not going to a easy or enjoyable trailer to tow.

A really nicely composed trailer can do that sweeping turn at 50-60mph with very little sway when light braking pressure is added mid turn.

If you trigger sway during a turn when braking simply letting off the brake will stop the sway
 

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This no braking during turns and using gearing on down hill runs to help control speed and avoid hot brakes is also where towing drivers typically get very upset with non towing drivers who force you to ride your brakes in a turn or during down hill runs they simply don’t understand safe trailering requires very specific use of braking and speed control and just braking willy nilly doesnt cut it.
 

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Trailer sway!! Lets talk a little about this.
this particular trailer subaru combination has the added problem of head wind. possibly creating such swaying as the wind hits the trailer over the low outback.


as the trailer being bought is tall. not a high low crank up, or hybrid. (and $27,000 to buy :| )

probably ideal for being yanked around by a Subaru Ascent though, with its taller roof line, sway control, inboard trailer brake control, 5000lb limit, on 500# tongue.
 

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Roof line height doesn’t really matter. It affects the mileage hit more when the roof line vs trailer height is greater but if a trailer is prone to sway under certain conditions its going to sway regardless. Trailer anti sway systems are mor or less shock absorbers on the hitch that slow the sway effect at the hitch.

The vehicle dynamics anti sway systems are tied to the vehicle stability control systems. I realize Subaru is marketing that the Ascent has anti sway systems but in reality the outback even the Impreza and Legacy have this also regardless of trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Where do you live?
Where do you want to go with the trailer?
where are you towing and when? (pacific north west coast in may:nerd:, is different then pikes peak in mid august :heat:).
We are based out of SF Bay Area so will be traveling up and down the PCH1 into the mountains only occasionally and with reasonable expectations of going up the steep grades and not in hot weather.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That's a lot of questions and I'm about in the same boat you are. I have a 2017 2.5 and purchased an InTech RV Pursue. I skipped the kitchen option to keep down the weight. I don't have my trailer yet, so I can't say how well the 2.5 handles it, but I can answer some of your starting questions because I've done that part. I have joined an owners group for the trailer I'm getting and there are a couple that use Outbacks with the 2.5 and some smaller cars. They haven't reported any problems or difficulties towing. I would suggest looking for a group that supports your trailer and see if anyone with an Outback is towing them. I agree the 2.5 is a slug, but every answer on this board seems to be "you should've bought the H6" or "you should get the Ascent". Not exactly helpful.

I would highly recommend etrailer.com to start familiarizing yourself with towing equipment. I got all my gear from there and did the install myself. I've been playing with cars for 20 years, so I have some garage experience, but they have tons of videos that walk through everything.

As far a hitch is concerned, you'll need a class 3 (2"). I went with a DrawTite hitch. Cost is reasonable and I feel the way it mounts and extends under the chassis is going to be stronger than some of the "stealth" options like the Eco-Hitch. That looks to only mount behind the rear bumper area of the vehicle.

For a brake controller, I went with a Redarc Tow Pro Elite. It's a little more expensive than other options, but the "brain" mounts anywhere you can find a spot (hidden) and the control knob can mount in a different spot (uses a CAT5 cable to connect). I mounted the brain in a void under the front center console cubby (the spot where the power outlet and USB ports are). I mounted the control knob to the interior fuse box cover. This way, I can buy a new fuse box cover and there's no holes anywhere from the setup.

You'll need a 4 pin harness that will connect to the factory wiring located up near the rear drivers wheel well in the rear cargo area. You'll then have to use a kit to convert to a 7 pin so that you can use the trailer brakes and provide a trickle charge to your trailer 12v system. That part of the install gets a little more involved, but there's videos on etrailer.com to walk you through it.

I'll post some photos later. Hope that helps a little as a start.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you so much for taking the time to give such a thorough response.

I have noticed there are always people that chime in these posts and respond negatively to towing with the Outback but I have found in my own research that often they are people that have not experienced actually towing with it in this way. Of course they have their limitations but from experienced towers I have gotten the message that if you work within the weight limitations and overall limitations it can work. Down the road we will upgrade to Ascent or otherwise.

I am still trying to decide to have the dealer do the installation or attempt it myself just want to make sure the installation is secure for obvious reasons.

Did you do anything with a sway bar?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The 2.5 tows fine. Anything under 1800lbs it does long trips comfortably. The 3.6 doesnt change that or the towing ability. The negative posters simply haven’t towed anything with a subaru or did it horribly wrong.

Roof box is fine and might help with trailer aerodynamics slightly. As for packed trunk you want to stay on the lighter side of the packed items given yes your tongue weight is impacted by trunk weight just think weight on rear springs trailer or trunk gear etc. My camp trailer is 900lbs empty and generally 1300-1600lbs packed depending on the trip etc. Some trips we have bikes on the roof of the car some trips we have the box. Just depends. Roof gear weight sits a bit farther forward I find it has less of a impact on the rear springs regarding setting from weight etc but its still a factor.

Trailer brakes are a good idea best option is a proper RV installer for a high quality brake controller.

For the trailer the first few trips its a good idea to weigh it. Especially the tongue weight so you start to get a sense of how the packed trailer carries the weight and how much weight it takes on. Once you get a sense of packed weight then your fine.

As for towing. The cvt does a really nice job towing. Things to keep in mind bikes on the roof quadruple the drag factor on the car a boxy tallish trailer does also. Many people don’t realize hot weather and flat highway speeds paired with a strong head wind can be as bad or worse as a long steep climb regarding stress on the cooling system. Yes given the right conditions you could over heat a car even with just bikes on the roof and flat highway driving.

It doesn’t matter if your driving a F350 diesel monster or a 2.5L Subaru you need to train your self to pay attention to your cars gauges and understand them. This prevents 100% of the dummy mistakes that result in big costly failures.

Long steep climbs I have found that the 2.5 does well when you settle into a 3200rpm and what ever speed you get is what you get during those long climbs. I will bump up to 3500rpm at times to get past slower traffic quicker etc. Never stay next to semi trucks any longer than nessisary speed up get past them!

Those long steep climbs I often pick a manual gear so its easier to hold 3200rpm vs the cvt jumping around with its ratios “thats only for steep climbs!”. The mild up and down stuff the cvt does awesome in AT mode.

Long down hill runs I use manual mode to pick a gear to help keep speed checked yes it makes a difference.

My old boat was 1800lbs 26ft hitch to stern annd 8.5ft wide. The 2.5 towed it great though that trailer also was the best towing trailer setup Ive ever had. That boat crossed Nevada Utah and Parts of Colorado doing 80+mph behind a Yukon without so much as a minor wobble. Trailer dynamics are largely affected by air flow and the geometry of the trailer. Boxy trailers can tow great till they don’t which typically is caused by air flow changes upsetting the trailer balance. Wind and truck slip streams can really upset an otherwise very stable boxy trailer. So keep that in mind as your towing do that and you’ll have a great experience. Don’t watch for those things and you will have moments of terror regardless of the tow vehicle being used.

Enjoy!! Do some local short trips to figure out your packing / gear along with weights etc. Then work up to the longer trips. Long highway trips maybe leave tanks empty to ease the burden the fill up closer to your destination etc. Even big RV types will do this.

Have fun, stay safe take your time.
This is a great response, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience.

You affirm what I have found in my research which is if done properly the Outback can get the job done. The advice to do local trips is great advice and we will do that. We live in SF Bay Area so enough local sites to visit in the coming months!
 

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This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you so much for taking the time to give such a thorough response.

I have noticed there are always people that chime in these posts and respond negatively to towing with the Outback but I have found in my own research that often they are people that have not experienced actually towing with it in this way. Of course they have their limitations but from experienced towers I have gotten the message that if you work within the weight limitations and overall limitations it can work. Down the road we will upgrade to Ascent or otherwise.

I am still trying to decide to have the dealer do the installation or attempt it myself just want to make sure the installation is secure for obvious reasons.

Did you do anything with a sway bar?
The dealer might only install the OEM hitch, you'd have to check to see if they would be willing to install aftermarket.

The OEM hitch will be 1.25" receiver vs the 2" you could get if you went aftermarket. It will be rated for the max OB tow limits, so it will work. You might find that other accessories like bike racks have some limited choices for that size. OEM will include the 4-flat wiring (fine if you don't have trailer brakes). You would still need to add the 4-to-7 converter and the brake controller.

My towing experience has been UHauls, and I did tow one that was approx the wt you are looking at. Pulling it up and down the WV mountains worked OK. Uphills got pretty slow, so I had to use the truck lanes. Downhills were fine, the CVT and engine braking worked to keep speeds well in control so I rarely needed to use the brakes - I think I only used the paddle shifters one time to downshift on a downhill. I picked a decent RPM, then drove using that as my limit vs MPH. I didn't want the engine and transmission to work any harder than they had to. For the most part, I was at or just under the posted speed limits doing it that way. Check the oil level at regular intervals.
 
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