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Subaru Outback Towing Capacity: What To Know

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Silver Outback in a parking spot

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The Subaru Outback has been known for a long time as one of the best vehicles for active families thanks to its commuter-friendly design and combination of a powerful engine and higher than average clearance. A longtime favorite of campers, hikers, and anyone with an active lifestyle, there’s one big question about the Outback for new buyers: what is the Subaru Outback’s towing capacity?

After all, towing capacity is vital for many people who love the Outback’s versatility. Knowing how far you can safely push an Outback is incredibly important. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Why Towing Capacity Matters

Towing capacity refers to the total gross weight of a vehicle that it can handle without being damaged during everyday use. To break that down, your towing capacity is the total weight of your car + passengers + cargo + towed equipment and cargo. 

Most car and truck towing capacity is listed as the additional weight your vehicle can handle for convenience. You don’t need to subtract the vehicle’s weight from the listed towing capacity. 

Many drivers don’t know that there are two different towing capacities for most vehicles, braking and unbraked towing capacity.


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Braked Towing Capacity

Braked towing capacity is usually at the higher end of your vehicle’s towing capacity. This is for towing equipment and other vehicles with their own braking capacity, so when you hit your brakes, this kind of equipment will also brake, helping control the total load on your Subaru Outback.

For Subaru Outback Towing Capacity, you can be a lot closer to 3,500 lbs. without overloading your vehicle if you’re towing braked equipment. 

Unbraked Towing Capacity

Unbraked towing capacity is more complicated because you need to rely on your Subaru Outback’s brakes to control the entire load. Overloading your Subaru Outback’s unbraked towing capacity can be even more dangerous than overloading your braked towing capacity since you’re more likely to damage your Outback’s brakes. 

Overloading your towing capacity can also risk preventing your car from stopping at all, especially if you need to stop quickly or in bad weather. 

Subaru Outback Towing Capacity

Depending on what model of Subaru Outback you have, your towing capacity is probably somewhere between 2,000-3,500 pounds. 

For reference, that’s enough to tow a lightweight aluminum or fiberglass boat. It’s plenty for a small trailer, a motorcycle trailer, or a compact camper. 

In some cases, you may even be able to tow a small horse trailer with a relatively lightweight horse with a Subaru Outback. 

However, a large trailer or heavy equipment will probably overload your Subaru Outback and stress your suspension system. Consistently towing above your Outback’s towing capacity can damage your engine and transmission, making it more likely to damage your head gasket or have other serious problems. 

Towing Recommendations

Since Subaru Outbacks have a relatively wide range of towing capacity, it’s crucial to look up the exact towing capacity of your model, including the model year, engine type, and any other differences in horsepower and performance. 

If you’ve customized your Outback, talk with your mechanic about how that alteration may have changed your towing capacity. Like using larger tires, even small changes can drastically change your Subaru Outback’s towing capacity. 

It’s also essential to make sure you stay on top of maintenance if you’re hauling with an Outback. Just because your Subaru Outback’s towing capacity says it can handle a load doesn’t mean your vehicle will perform well with dirty oil, out of alignment, or when it’s low on coolant. 

Staying on top of your regular maintenance is critical for safely towing with a Subaru Outback. 

It’s also important to know that you’ll need maintenance more often if you’re towing a Subaru Outback. Oil changes are significant, and you’ll need them more often if you’re regularly towing. 

When towing with a Subaru Outback, it’s also essential to check on tire wear and tear and brake condition more often. Brakes are critical if you’re towing unbraked loads since your Subaru’s brakes will be under more stress than average.


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How To Check If You’re Under Towing Capacity

One of the best ways to check your vehicle’s load is to check the springs on the undercarriage. There should be room for movement in those springs; if there isn’t, you’re overloaded. 

Subaru Outback towing capacity is harder to check for, though, since most towed equipment has wheels and suspension, so not all the weight is on your Subaru.  

Checking the springs is still an excellent first step, but you should also know your exact towing capacity and the exact weight of whatever you want to tow. If you’re towing a loaded trailer, you can estimate the weight of the cargo but try to learn the exact weight of the trailer itself. 

When you start towing, pay attention to driving performance. If your Outback is working much harder than expected, is running hotter than usual, or is making unusual noises while you’re towing, you may be over your towing capacity.


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How The Subaru Outback Handles While Towing

Outbacks offer impressive handling even when they are at towing capacity. While the Subaru Outback’s towing capacity is reasonably low, it has a lot of control as a crossover SUV with an all-wheel drive. The low profile helps prevent wind interference and makes it easier to drive in all weather conditions. 

Depending on the profile of your trailer or towed equipment, Subaru Outbacks do well. Outbacks can have a more challenging time towing tall trailers and other tall equipment. However, tall trailers are still reasonably doable as long as you don’t overload the capacity. 

Outbacks also give you a pretty good field of view, even when towing. Mirrors and windows provide lots of visibility and few blind spots, making changing lanes a lot easier. 

However, while Outbacks have the horsepower to tow light equipment and vehicles, they suffer from slower acceleration. That can make getting up to speed reasonably tricky, especially if you need to haul in town instead of on the highway.

Should You Buy the Subaru Outback?

The venerable Subaru Outback is a popular rugged crossover among outdoor enthusiasts and adventure junkies for a reason. But the question is, should you buy the Subaru Outback with towing in mind?

Absolutely! But you should carefully consider the Outback model and the trailer you wish to tow. Fortunately, with its standard towing capacity of 2,700 lbs, the Outback blows the competition out of the water. The Outback can tow not one but two ATVs with that towing capacity. Even better if you can get your hands on the XT lineup as the towing capacity is boosted to a beastly 3,500 lbs.

According to Drivin’ & Vibin’, the Subaru Outback can tow many different popular trailers including:

  • Aliner Scout and Classic
  • Coachman Clipper
  • Casita
  • 13’ Scamp
  • Forest River R-Pod
  • Prime Time Avenger 16RD
  • Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7
  • Little Guy Mini Max
  • Nucamp TAB
  • And many others…

One of the main highlights of the Outback is its impressive towing capacity. It can tow a lot, but you’re driving a rugged-crossover wagon SUV – you don’t need a towering truck to get your towing needs done. And there are other perks like standard AWD, good ground clearance, and a distinct curb appeal. Hard to go wrong!

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