When most people buy a Subaru Outback, they usually want something they can take to the snow or to the beach. It’s not that often that people buy a Subaru Outback with the pure intention to tow something with it. However, when your Outback takes you on many adventures, it’s natural to start to wonder how much weight it can tow to figure out if you can start to bring more gear with you, such as a small camper, motorcycle trailer, a bike rack or if it’s even a good idea to tow with a Subaru Outback at all.
2,700 to 3,500 lbs Tow Rating
There are plenty of crossover suvs that can tow the 2700 to 3500 lbs the Outback can, but the Subaru Outback does so with more utility and flexibility than the others. The range here depends on what trim level and engine options you pick to determine what tow capacity you will have. For the base 2700 lb rating, you would be using the standard 2.5l 4-cylinder engine or for the 3500 lb tow capacity, you would want to get the most powerful engine from the various engine choices which in this case is the available 2.4l turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found in the Outback XT trim, Limited XT and the Outback Onyx Edition XT to name a few. These Subru Outback models will give you the 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque that would be recommended to tow something as heavy as 3500 lbs.
Generally speaking, you want to keep your tow capacity to 80% of what the rating is. So if you have a 3500 lb rating, don’t tow more than 2800 lbs.
One thing that many people forget about is the payload capacity. The Outback is rated at 1,078 to 1,213 lbs of payload capacity inside of the vehicle itself. If you are going to tow something, plus stuff your car full of gear, you need to adjust your towing capacity to accommodate for the extra curb weight of the vehicle.
What do you need to tow with your Outback?
You have to make sure your Outback has a trailer hitch that is at least a 2″ hitch, Class 2. The Class 2 hitches are typically rated up to 3500 lbs which is the towing ability of the Outback. Usually you can get this option from the dealer, or there are plenty of available options in the aftermarket. You will also need a ball hitch to connect a trailer, which you can generally also get from the dealer or aftermarket.
Keep in mind, that the Outback has a CVT Transmission, so you also want to keep the stress down to prevent permanent damage, especially when towing uphill. When getting close to the max capacity, you are usually full throttle up hills, and depending how long and steep the hill is, this puts serious strain on the drivetrain and transmission.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what you can tow.
1. Lightweight Campers
There are many lightweight campers available that you can buy to tow with your Outback. Some popular ones are small teardrop trailers that are perfect because they are small, can sleep 2 to 4 people and allow you to still use the cubic feet inside of the car for additional cargo room. With the rear seats up, you get 32.5 cubic feet of space and a whopping 75.7 cubic feet with the rear seats down. Keep this in mind when picking a camper to use to tow. The camper should be used for your sleeping area to make the most use of space.
2. Boat Trailer and Small Fishing Boat
You can tow a boat with your Outback XT, but you do need to keep a few important things in mind. The trailer itself can weigh 1500-2000 lbs if the frame is steel. Lighter aluminum frame trailers are recommended when towing with Subaru vehicles. If you have a 1500 lb trailer, that leaves you with enough weight capacity to add a 1300 lb boat. A lightweight aluminum boat is recommended and will also be easier to tow as it will keep your sway to a minimum. Keep note of any additional weight you add inside of the boat as this all adds to what you are towing. This size boat and trailer will be plenty big for a family and can take you on many adventures.
3. Lightweight Horse Trailers
While a small, lightweight horse trailer is going to be no problem to tow, you do need to keep in mind that when you add horses and gear the weight significantly increases. I would not recommend having a horse in the trailer when towing with your Outback or most Subaru vehicles because the Subaru is relatively lightweight, and you’re adding an animal that moves around and changes weight distribution and dynamics. If you are going to tow a horse and trailer within town, that should be fine, but I wouldn’t do it on the freeway. Don’t only look at the towing capacity of the Subaru Outback when deciding if you can tow, it’s also important to determine if what you are towing is safe to do so.
4. Lightweight Utility Trailers
These should be no problem to tow. However, keep in mind how much weight you’ll be adding into the trailer. It adds up fast.
5. Motorcycle Trailers
A typical motorcycle, let’s say a 650cc, weighs around 400 to 450 lbs. So towing a motorcycle and a motorcycle trailer is well within the tow rating, considering the trailer might only weigh 300-400 lbs as well.
So… should I tow with my Outback?
Yes! I would absolutely tow up to 80% of the tow rating of the vehicle. Just keep in mind, while the Outback can tow, just know it is not a tow vehicle. So when towing something, try to keep it as lightweight as possible. If you have a base engine, you will have a lower rating, so keep towing to a minimum.
With all of the available safety features, the Subaru Outback is one of our favorite new vehicles on the market for family adventures. Keep your load low, and you should have many years of reliable fun. I always recommend to have a local shop inspect your vehicle and your load to ensure it’s all properly set up, safe, and will give you many miles of worry free fun.
Do you tow with your Subaru?
Tell us below in the comments what you tow, how your Outback did and give us some reviews on your vehicle or gear. We’d love to hear from you!