What’s the Subaru Outback Towing Capacity – What Trailers and Campers Can It Safely Tow?

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How Much Will a Subaru Outback Tow?

The Subaru Outback has an identity crisis, identifying as a midsize SUV while in a body that reminds of a station wagon. However, the way you perceive the vehicle does not change the crucial fact that the Outback can pull 2,700 pounds with the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. Alternatively, if a 2.4-liter Subaru Boxer turbo engine is present under the hood, the towing capacity rises to 3,500 pounds.

What Travel Trailer Size Can a Subaru Outback Pull?

The somewhat limiting towing capacity, which ranges between 2,700 and 3,500 pounds depending on the model, reduces the trailer options that can get hitched to the Outback. Hauling a large-sized RV is not possible, but the SUV can handle lightweight campers such as small teardrop campers, pop-up campers, and compact stand-up campers. Aside from campers, the Outback can also haul aluminum boats, motorcycle trailers, lightweight horse trailers, and lightweight utility trailers.

The Subaru Outback is a versatile SUV that can enhance touring adventures in outdoor environments, which most vehicles struggle to overcome. The Outback’s symmetrical all-wheel drive offers additional grip on various off-road terrains. The Subaru Outback 2022 inspires confidence when towing trailers or campers with 8.7 inches of ground clearance (except the Wilderness trim with 9.5 inchess) and the X-mode feature that offers improved traction.

Overall, the Subaru Outback has a reputation as a vehicle for active families. The sixth generation of the Outback entered North America in 2019, and the current 2022 edition stays faithful to the concept, with few cosmetic details that improve the commuter-friendly design. The brawny engines and higher-than-average clearance make it a favorite choice for campers. 

Can A Subaru Outback Tow A Fifth Wheel Trailer?

Fifth-wheel trailers are too big of a bite for the Subaru Outback. As a midsize SUV, the Outback cannot handle the massive weight of fifth wheelers that are between 12,000 pounds and 20,000 pounds. An additional problem with fifth wheelers is that they can’t be towed conventionally. 

Usually, pickup trucks pull the fifth wheeler by hitching the trailer or RV in the truck bed. This is one benefit of fifth-wheelers versus tow-behind trailers. Since the 5th wheel camper rests the weight on the truck’s bed, it’s easy to maneuver and improves stability during driving.

Although the Outback cannot pull a full-sized RV, the 3,500-pound towing capacity makes it possible to haul various models of lightweight campers and travel trailers.

The Towing Capacity of Different Subaru Outback Models and Years

Let’s compare the engine performance of the Subaru Outback by year and discover the towing capacities:

Subaru Outback by Year2.5-Liter Four-Cylinder  Engine2.4-Liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine3.6-Liter Boxer 6-Cylinder Engine
2016 Subaru Outback175 horsepower;174 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;256 horsepower;247 torque lb.-ft.;3,000lbs. towing capacity;
2017 Subaru Outback 175 horsepower;174 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;256 horsepower;247 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;
2018 Subaru Outback 175 horsepower;174 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;256 horsepower;247 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;
2019 Subaru Outback 175 horsepower;174 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;260 horsepower;277 torque lb.-ft., 3,500 towing capacity; 256 horsepower;247 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;
2020 Subaru Outback 182 horsepower;176 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;260 horsepower;277 torque lb.-ft., 3,500 towing capacity; 
2021 Subaru Outback182 horsepower;176 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;260 horsepower;277 torque lb.-ft., 3,500 towing capacity; 
2022 Subaru Outback182 horsepower;176 torque lb.-ft.;2,700lbs. towing capacity;260 horsepower;277 torque lb.-ft., 3,500 towing capacity; 

What Affects the Overall Towing Capacity Of The Subaru Outback?

What's the Subaru Outback Towing Capacity - What Trailers and Campers Can It Safely Tow? 1

Towing capacity is the gross weight a vehicle can handle without sustaining damage. In the case of the 2022 Subaru Outback, two figures are advertised: the 2,700-pound capacity of the base model and the more attractive 3,500 pounds that comes with the 2.4-Liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine.

The 700-pound discrepancy is for a few reasons, the main one being the different engine types utilized in the trim levels of the Outback. Nevertheless, several other designs features influence how much weight the Subaru Outback can pull safely.

Let’s examine the main factors that affect the towing capacity. 

Engine Strength

Subaru offers a pair of four-cylinder engines for its Outback line-up of vehicles. 

The standard option is the 2.5-liter Four-Cylinder with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, which is a sufficient power output to tow 2.700 pounds. The 2.5-l Subaru Boxer brings a respectable performance for an SUV in the midsize class. However, the engine can get loud, as it produces a lot of noise under acceleration. 

This is not a problem with the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, which offers more authoritative hauling thanks to the 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, which translates into a pull of 3,500 pounds. 

Both engines get mated with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The fuel economy of the Subaru Outback is above average for a midsize SUV. 

The standard engine consumes 26 miles per gallon in the city, while on the open road, Subaru says that it’ll do 33 mpg. On the other hand, the turbocharged engine gets 23 miles per gallon in the urban landscape, while it gets 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Axle Ratio

The final drive axle ratio of the Subaru Outback is 3.90, which is not surprising considering the respectable towing capacity of this vehicle.

The axle ratio serves several purposes, such as multiplying the torque when accelerating and influencing the vehicle’s muscle power and fuel economy. 

Car enthusiasts know that the axle ratio refers to the number of revolutions the driveshaft performs to spin the axle for a full turn. The higher the axle ratio, the more torque the vehicle will have and will be able to tow larger weights. 

The Outback’s ratio is within the recommended range for its advertised towing capacity.

The Length And Weight Of The Truck

The Outback has a name that gets associated with nature. Although its designed as a vehicle with some off-road capabilities, ideal for family camping adventures, it is also a decent daily driver, and the size and shape reflect that philosophy.

The dimensions of the Subaru Outback are within the accepted standards for a midsize SUV. Its total length is 191.3 inches, while the width with the mirrors is 73 inches. In addition, the height comes to 66.1 inches. 

Dimensions are an important parameter when maneuvering and parking a vehicle, especially an SUV that tends to be larger, but the weight is also a crucial factor. 

The Outback curb weight is 3,637 pounds for the base vehicle. However, this is the empty weight, which is offset by the number of passengers and cargo. These elements should get factored into the equation when calculating fuel economy and performance.

Payload

The total payload of the Outback equals 1,213 pounds, which can be distributed between the passengers and the cargo transported. The SUV can accommodate five passengers, who, depending on the model, can enjoy a climate control zone, heated seats, and numerous USB ports.  

It’s important to know that the Subaru Outback can handle increased payload if bed racks, read springs, or coil-over shock absorbers are added. 

The boot of the vehicle provides 33 cubic feet of space, which is sufficient room for up to 11 carry-on suitcases, or wtih the back seat folded flat, up to 23 standard length bags. 

Numerous reviews have reported that the Outback has the necessary capacity to store the required items for a family camping excursion – which is what this vehicle is all about.

Tongue Weight

Learning the correct tongue weight is a prerequisite for safe towing. The tongue weight is the amount of force a trailer exerts on the hitch

When the tongue weight exceeds the norm, it can affect the vehicle’s stability by sagging the rear part of the SUV. But excess weight is not the only problem. 

For instance, it’s crucial to know that if the tongue weight is lower, the back of the Outback can get lifted, resulting in a swaying motion.

For proper handling and braking when towing, it’s crucial to balance the tongue weight within the vehicle requirements. The standard rule is for the tongue weight to be 10% to 15% of the towing capacity. 

With the Subaru Outback, the tongue weight is 270 pounds for the basic model and 350 pounds for trim levels with the more powerful engine. 

The proper tongue weight can get achieved by redistributing the trailer weight.

Towing Package

The Subaru Outback can tow different types of trailers and campers with factory or after-market hitches that meet the weight requirements. 

The factory 2-inch receiver is engineered with the same high standards as the rest of the vehicle. Yet, a standard package doesn’t include the hitch ball and mount, and trailer brakes may be needed, depending on state laws.

If going for an aftermarket hitch, the vehicle requires a Class II model, rated up to 3,500 pounds. Apart from the 2-inch hitch, it’s possible to get a 1.25-inch receiver hitch that can accommodate a fishing boat or small pop-up camper.

The installation will vary depending on the model – some are plug-in-style hitches, while others will require professional assistance in properly installing the equipment.

Trailer Tow Package

The difference between the trailer two package and the standard towing package is that the former gets specially designed for towing trailers. The Outback is at the lower end of the towing spectrum in its category, meaning multiple equipment choices can handle 3,500 pounds. 

Several manufacturers offer trailer packages with hitches with an anti-sway cage to absorb shocks and support the proper tongue weight. 

In addition, the rear view camera provides excellent visibility in the back of the SUV, so you can make sure everything functions properly when on long-distance drives.

Which Mid-Size SUVs Provide Similar Towing Capacities to the Subaru Outback?

Pickup trucks are the first thing people think about when discussing towing. However, crossover vehicles are stealing the spotlight, offering pickups’ utility and towing power. Thanks to modern body constructions and powertrain technologies, SUVs can haul reasonable-sized cargo while simultaneously providing creature comforts. 

The Subaru Outback is not the only vehicle that provides up to 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. Some alternatives include:

  • Chrysler Pacifica 2022 – 3,600 lbs.
  • Honda Pilot 2022 – from 3,500 to 5,000 lbs.
  • Toyota RAV4 2022 2022 – up to 3,500 lbs.

Subaru Outback Towing Capacity FAQ

Which Subaru Outback Can Tow 3,500 lbs.?

The 3,500 pounds of towing power is possible with the 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that comes standard with the following trim levels: Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Outback Touring XT. The towing capacity of the Subaru Outback varies depending on the selected engine.

Can a Subaru Outback Tow a Pop-up Camper?

The Outback is a midsize SUV capable of towing between 2,700 and 3,500 pounds. Considering that pop-up campers are within that weight requirement, the Outback will be able to handle most small camper types, including some small RVs.

How the Subaru Outback Handles While Towing?

Although the towing capacity of the Subaru Outback is relatively low, the all-wheel-drive of the crossover SUV offers substantial control when driving on the highway and off-road. The low profile enables easier driving in all weather conditions. The Outback provides a solid field of view, with a reduced number of blind spots when towing. The SUV may experience difficulty towing tall trailers, but it is not impossible if they are not overloaded.

Does the Subaru Outback Have a Trailer Hitch?

The Subaru hitch is a heavy-duty 2-inch receiver that can safely handle up to 3,500 pounds of towing capacity. The hitch gets engineered with the identical high standards applied to the rest of the Outback. The hitch ball and the ball mount are not included in the standard package, while trailer brakes are needed for heavier loads. Having the necessary equipment is only one condition for successful towing. It is crucial to perform regular maintenance when hauling with an Outback. Inspecting the tires for wear and tear and the braking system will ensure safe travels when pulling a trailer behind the Outback.

How Does the Subaru Outback Compare to Light Duty Trucks?

There are a variety of manufacturers that offer light pickup trucks that usually can tow between 3,000-7,000 pounds. This is higher than the towing potential of the Subaru Outback. The gross weight of the Subaru is smaller compared with light pickups, making it more efficient when traveling in the city. In addition, with a generous ground clearance of 8.7 inches (or 9.5 for Wilderness), the Outback can rival the lightest pickup truck in different challenging road conditions.

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About Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman is an interesting travel blogger and outdoor photographer with a great sense of humor. He owns an RV Accessories shop in New York City so he has the knowledge necessary to provide thorough reviews and give advice on how to choose the right products for RV travel. He puts all that RV knowledge and experience to good use in his sharing posts. Besides product buying guides/reviews, Chris also writes informative articles, how-to articles and RV camping guides in his own interesting viewpoint. Chris’s blog is one of the most reliable information sources for RV campers no matter if you're an expert or a determined beginner.

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