2020 Subaru Outback turbo for towing

WudzyWudzy Member Posts: 4
Has anyone tried towing a [email protected] 320 with the new 2020 Subaru Outback with turbo engine yet?  
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Comments

  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,272
    Welcome to the Forums!

    You will get better advice if you can get very specific on the engine specs, model, etc.
    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • WudzyWudzy Member Posts: 4
    I believe the new turbo is rated to tow 3500 lbs. (vs. 2700 on the prior Outbacks) with a 350 tongue weight.  The turbocharged 2.4-liter boxer-four has 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque that pairs with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
  • treefrogtreefrog Member Posts: 98
    Check your specs for steep grades in hot weather.
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    So far, I’ve found very little firsthand towing experience with the new 2020 XT models. Stats say it should be fine. Plenty of us have towed with less capable Outbacks. One annoyance is that it apparently only comes with a 4 pin wiring harness, while the Tab and most other trailers in this weight range come with electric brakes and require a 7 pin. I’m still waffling between an XT, the Ascent, or finally leaving Subaru for something else.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • db_cooperdb_cooper Member Posts: 587
    The problem is transmission temps.  I have a 2014 Outback pre-CVT and it gets too warm.  I use an Xterra with transmission cooler, and it's great with a 320.
    2015 Max S Outback | 2010 Xterra



  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    db_cooper said:
    The problem is transmission temps.  I have a 2014 Outback pre-CVT and it gets too warm.  I use an Xterra with transmission cooler, and it's great with a 320.
    My admittedly limited understanding is that the 3.6r model (prior to 2020) has a transmission cooler already, which is part of why that model has a higher tow rating of 3000 lbs (at least in some years). It’s pointless, since it still only has a 200 lb tongue weight limit that is a pain in the backside with a nuCamp era 320, but I’ve monitored my trans temps while towing on my 2015 3.6r and not had an issue. If the tongue weight were higher, I’d have zero qualms about sticking with it, which is why the new 2020 XT is so tempting.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • SubaruLouSubaruLou Member Posts: 43
    VictoriaP said:
    I’m still waffling between an XT, the Ascent, or finally leaving Subaru for something else.
    I love my Ascent, preferably with my [email protected] attached heading somewhere fun, but also regular driving. Not the best gas mileage, but my daily commute is down my hallway.  =)
    2019 [email protected] 320 S  |  2019 Subaru Ascent
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    SubaruLou said:
    VictoriaP said:
    I’m still waffling between an XT, the Ascent, or finally leaving Subaru for something else.
    I love my Ascent, preferably with my [email protected] attached heading somewhere fun, but also regular driving. Not the best gas mileage, but my daily commute is down my hallway.  =)
    Yeah, I’m leaning towards the Ascent for the most part, just loathe giving up the better mileage and more compact body of the Outback for ease of parking. Plus I know I’ll feel ridiculous by myself 99% of the time in a 7-8 passenger rig. And I hate that I’m going to have to spend a fortune on a Limited with upgrades just to get the equivalent features that are on my current vehicle, all because my current tongue weight is stupidly low. Whine, whine. 😁


    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • ckjsckjs Member Posts: 18
    Our new Subaru XT will be pulling our clamshell as soon as I wire up the brake controller. We are really looking forward to head over the Sierras and other mountains.  Our old 4-cylinder Outback did fine at low elevation, but slogged up even coastal passes. 
    The lack of a 7 blade connector for an OEM 3500 pound hitch is pretty dumb. It implies that Subaru wasn’t really thinking about towing. 
    Highway MPG is slightly over 30, especially if you keep steady around 60. 
    Charles & Judy, Santa Cruz, CA
    2018 [email protected] 320 CS-S; 4 cyl 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    ckjs said:
    Our new Subaru XT will be pulling our clamshell as soon as I wire up the brake controller. We are really looking forward to head over the Sierras and other mountains.  Our old 4-cylinder Outback did fine at low elevation, but slogged up even coastal passes. 
    The lack of a 7 blade connector for an OEM 3500 pound hitch is pretty dumb. It implies that Subaru wasn’t really thinking about towing. 
    Highway MPG is slightly over 30, especially if you keep steady around 60. 
    One concern I’d have with swapping out the 4 pin connector for a 7 pin: Subaru’s warranty restrictions on towing have historically insisted on all OEM parts, or the warranty can be voided. It’s absurd, and I don’t know that it would seriously hold up in court, but I’d definitely be interested to know if that was still the case on the 2020 XT models. I know some similar wording is still present on the Ascent, because it’s been debated when we’ve discussed that Subaru only sells one insert that doesn’t have the right drop for a regular Tab, forcing anyone who needs a different drop to go with an aftermarket part.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • BirdieJaneBirdieJane Member Posts: 230
    edited January 16
    We have owned the Outback and Ascent both Setup for our Tab Outback. Our Subaru Outback was setup with a class 3 hitch and 7 pin plug by our dealer. No questions ask no problem with Subaru. Dealer also installed our hitch on our Ascent. We use a 7” drop for our Tab. New Years under tow the PCV valve failed in the Ascent, and now the car is getting a new engine as we speak,  under warranty No questions ask. 
    January 24th Subaru will announce the recall on the Ascent for this problem 
    2017 [email protected] Outback white w black trim / 2019 Subaru Ascent White with black trim / Birch Bay WA.
    aka BirdieJane towed by Quinn
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    @BirdieJane Ouch! Hopefully you get it back soon!
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • lkc001lkc001 Member Posts: 520
    I would always question towing with a vehicle that does not come standard with the tow package, including tranny cooler, 7-pin connector, appropriate tongue weight capacity, etc.  If a vehicle does not come with the tow package, it wasn't really meant to tow.  Even if the salesman/specs say it can tow 3,500. which should be the LEAST amount you would need to tow a Tab 320 or any other trailer in the same weight range.  JMHO. . . . 

    2016 Nissan Frontier SV V6 4x4
    Finally!  New Owner of a 2017 Tab 320S! 
    Woohoo!
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    lkc001 said:
    I would always question towing with a vehicle that does not come standard with the tow package, including tranny cooler, 7-pin connector, appropriate tongue weight capacity, etc.  If a vehicle does not come with the tow package, it wasn't really meant to tow.  Even if the salesman/specs say it can tow 3,500. which should be the LEAST amount you would need to tow a Tab 320 or any other trailer in the same weight range.  JMHO. . . . 

    The 2020 Outback XT models come with an optional tow package of a 2” hitch and 4 pin flat connector, and have a 350lb tongue weight limit as opposed to the inadequate 200lb limit on earlier models. (They already have a beefier engine than the basic model.) Subaru is not known for prioritizing towing as a feature on their vehicles, hence, my suspicion is that in the design phase, they were thinking boats, jet skis, and tiny teardrops with surge brakes rather than electric brakes. None of those require a 7 pin. Plenty of other tow vehicles have to have 7 pin added, it’s not *that* uncommon.

    I’d definitely like to see more real world experience towing with it before I assume anything. My guess, it’ll be an adequate minimum tow vehicle along the lines of the RAV4 Adventure or Ford Escape. That’s not to say it’ll be ideal, because I personally think ideal for a 320 is a TV with a 5,000 lb tow rating. But if you travel fairly light, it should be enough.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • TabberJohnTabberJohn Member Posts: 559
    edited January 17
    I can see where people might get carried away with what's possible. It's an entirely different (hitch) ball game in UK/EU.
    Check out: https://www.practicalcaravan.com/news/173558-tow-car-awards-2019-winners-revealed
    Think TC(ar) not TV(ehicle). Plenty of sedans.
    You can't really compare apples to apples with turbo+diesel being a common spec, but it's interesting to see what's considered a viable tow vehicle across the pond. Love the emergency maneuver test videos.
    Only three pick-ups listed out of 500 entries here: https://www.thetowcarawards.com/tow-car-chooser/
    Perhaps they consider us Yanks to be wimps when it comes to towing. ;)
    On the other hand they don't have many 10,000 ft passes to navigate on holiday or hours to drive on Interstates. :|
    Capacity: 1000kg = 2200lbs, 1500kg = 3300lbs, 2000kg = 4400lbs, 3500kg = 7700lbs

    2015 [email protected] Max S (White/Silver) -> 2014 Ford Escape 2.0L (turbo, AWD, factory tow)
  • treefrogtreefrog Member Posts: 98
    edited January 16
    I used to own a 5th gen Outback. The owners manual said towing in over 100 degree weather up a 5 mile steep grade cut my tow rating in half to 1350 pounds!
    So what about 90 degrees and a 4 mile long hill?

    I think some vehicles can tow, and others are designed too.
  • WudzyWudzy Member Posts: 4
    edited January 17
    Interestingly, the nuCamp website is showing a Subaru Outback towing a [email protected] 320. 
     
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 1,272
    European tow ratings are very different than in the USA for many reasons.  There was a Jalopnik article on this a while back.  You can go through the physics lesson if you want, or scroll down toward the end of the article for more specific reasons.  The roads in Europe are slower, their ideas on the physics are a bit different, and they have opted for (seemingly) less safe regulations.


    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • db_cooperdb_cooper Member Posts: 587
    @VictoriaP ,  our 2014 3.6R definitely didn't come with a transmission cooler.   We had to press the Outback into service when our Xterra was waiting for parts.  It already had a good hitch, but we had to add  7 pin harness before the trip.  I monitored the transmission temps on the entire trip with a bluetooth thingy plugged in to the OBDII port.   The temps were never good,  whether on flats or climbing mountains.  When we got home, I asked the mechanic to replace the transmission fluid, but he said it looked and smelled ok, so we didn't.   So,  I feel like we got away with it, but I'd add a cooler if I needed to use the Outback again.  I also wouldn't buy a CVT equipped car if towing was a big part of it's usage, but to each their own.
    2015 Max S Outback | 2010 Xterra



  • SubaruLouSubaruLou Member Posts: 43
    VictoriaP Plus I know I’ll feel ridiculous by myself 99% of the time in a 7-8 passenger rig. 😁


    I feel your pain! I went from a Honda Insight and tent to a Mazda CX-5 towing a SylvanSport GO to the Ascent towing a [email protected] 320. My latest vehicle decisions have completely revolved around camping setup!
    2019 [email protected] 320 S  |  2019 Subaru Ascent
  • WudzyWudzy Member Posts: 4
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience towing with the new 2020 Onyx!  That's the trim I was leaning toward too since it has a full size spare (all the other trims have temporary spares.)
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 854
    @Feffer what kind of MPG towing and solo does that turbo Subaru get? Just curious how that stacks up to a bigger TV in mileage?
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • DsumrahDsumrah Member Posts: 23
    We are looking to upgrade our 2016 Outback to a 2020 Outback Onyx XT (Called Outdoor XT here in Canada). @Feffer I was also wondering about the MPG when towing and how many miles/km you get from a tank. 
    2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i | 2015 [email protected] Q
    2020 Subaru Outback XT | 2017 [email protected] CS
  • Flyr9rFlyr9r Member Posts: 3
    Does anybody know what the 2021 Tab 320S (inside kitchen) tongue weight is wet?  We previously towed a 2018 320S with a 2016 Ford Escape 2.0 with a tow package and it was great, we had no problems. Our loaded trailer was 2150 lbs and 150 lbs tongue weight. Towed that trailer all over including the Rockies with no issues. We got rid of both and decided to try hotels for a change and see how that works out. With the 2021 version we are thinking of getting another 320S. We like the improvements freezer, microwave, split rear bench as well as slide support for split beds. Thinking of the 2020 Outback 2.5 liter 4-cylinder rated at 2,700 and max tongue weight of 270 lbs.  We our retired and 80% of our driving is not traveling and want the decent gas mileage when not towing. We generally camp in campgrounds except for a occasional nite in a Flying J / Walmart traveling to our destination. Love to hear from those towing with the Outback. 
  • rcuomorcuomo Member Posts: 244
    If you search Subaru Outback you will find a ton of opinions. Can it tow the 320S, yes but generally not recommended. The tongue weight will be close to the limit and the CVT transmission isn’t really strong enough for serious towing. But there are many folks out there towing their [email protected] with the 2.5 CVT Outbacks. 
    ‘18 Tab 320S- mfg’d 4/17, acquired 9/17
    Spare & bike rack on tongue, Renogy suitcase connection, cargo & door nets, sway bar, wired rear camera, Norcold aux fan, front window protection, frame mounted sewer & water hose storage. 
    ‘17 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E- 5000# tow cap, 600# tongue cap
    ‘20 Honda Pilot Elite- 5000# tow cap, 500# tongue cap
    Huntington LI
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    edited February 25
    Flyr9r said:
    Does anybody know what the 2021 Tab 320S (inside kitchen) tongue weight is wet?  We previously towed a 2018 320S with a 2016 Ford Escape 2.0 with a tow package and it was great, we had no problems. Our loaded trailer was 2150 lbs and 150 lbs tongue weight. Towed that trailer all over including the Rockies with no issues. We got rid of both and decided to try hotels for a change and see how that works out. With the 2021 version we are thinking of getting another 320S. We like the improvements freezer, microwave, split rear bench as well as slide support for split beds. Thinking of the 2020 Outback 2.5 liter 4-cylinder rated at 2,700 and max tongue weight of 270 lbs.  We our retired and 80% of our driving is not traveling and want the decent gas mileage when not towing. We generally camp in campgrounds except for a occasional nite in a Flying J / Walmart traveling to our destination. Love to hear from those towing with the Outback. 
    Here’s the thing. Any Subaru older than the 2020 has been limited to a 200lb tongue weight, so responsible Outback owners have been forced to very strictly manage their tongue weight for years, which you would also have to do on the newest trim levels with lower limits. And you know what? It absolutely sucks to have to do that so rigidly. This biggest single mistake I made in buying the Tab was listening to everyone who said the pre-2020 Outback would be fine—they were right about the 6cyl engine being plenty, but the tongue weight issue is huge. I hate it, and as much as I adore my 3.6r Outback, I will be replacing it as soon as I can afford to with a vehicle with a minimum 350 lb limit, and preferably 500 (Subaru Ascent, in all but the base trim level). The higher tongue weight limit provides safety and convenience in not having to manage your load so diligently.

    Meanwhile, 320 models have gotten heavier with every model year. While I don’t know the weight on the newest one, they’ve moved the spare tire forward, which by itself will add to the tongue weight.  Then you add in your own gear and all of a sudden, you’re pushing that 270 limit. I travel lighter than most people, and I still end up around 240 until I very diligently rearrange everything, carrying the fridge food and kitchen gear in the car rather packed away in the trailer, etc. If I carried what I see most people carrying, I’d be coming in much higher. I can’t add a second battery, or second propane tank, can’t move my spare tire up front or carry a generator on the tongue. And remember, you can’t store that extra stuff you’ve temporarily removed from the trailer in the cargo area of the car instead, because you’re trying to keep the weight and strain off the rear axle as much as you can, so it all ends up in the passenger compartment. The newest 320 also has less storage in back than mine does due to the under-bench AC, so the bulk of your storage is forward of the trailer axle...still more weight on the tongue.

    So no, I cannot in good conscience recommend the non turbo model 2020 Outback for towing a Tab. 270 is barely adequate. Yes, you can make it work, but it’s going to add stress and complexity to your trips, and if you don’t get that balance just right, it won’t handle well either. If you must have an Outback, get one of the XT trim levels with the higher towing capacity and tongue weight.




    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • Flyr9rFlyr9r Member Posts: 3
    Appreciate the feed back and understand the concerns. Still trying to find out why the tongue weight has increase significantly. Our 2018 which I weighed on several occasions ( with full water & propane) came in about 2,100 with a tongue weight of 150. We are a retired airline family and are use to traveling light because we never checked bags because when they bumped us off (oversold flight) they wouldn’t retrieve your bags. We got pretty good at getting everything in a carry on bag. This has carried over to our tab traveling which worked well for us. With the air conditioning now far aft under the seat relocating the spare tire forward should be offset somewhat. The microwave is almost over the tire which shouldn’t affect the tongue weight as well.  Another question is normally you would want a minimum of 10% of the trailer weight on the tongue but I towed our previous tab numerous miles including the mountains and never experienced any sway with a Ford Escape 2.0 with tow package. Currently the (2019)  brochure shows a tab being towed by a Outback and also shows a wet weight of 2019 lbs and a tongue weight of 138 lbs. which was not that different than our 2018 Tab. Will be interesting to see what they show for 2021 Tabs.  Always thought Subaru Outback would be nice but know wondering if I should just consider another Escape 2.0 with tow package which also served us well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and knowledge!
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 493
    edited February 25
    @Flyr9r

    Tongue weight increase on the Subaru, or on the Tab? The Subaru was built on a totally new platform for 2020, one stronger and reinforced to better handle towing. The XT models have additional improvements to handle heavier loads. Basically, Subaru needed an improved vehicle to compete with other compact SUVs, many of which were better equipped for hauling trailers than previous Outback generations.

    As far as why your Escape/trailer combo didn’t sway with such a low tongue weight, well, different vehicles behave differently. I can tell you right now, I absolutely have to use a sway bar with my Subaru due to the tongue weight being artificially held to just under 200 lbs (about 8%). It WILL sway at highway speeds if I don’t, I’ve tested it. But...I have a Boondock model Tab, which is taller; perhaps the regular height ones would have been fine.

    All that said, I have no hesitation in saying 350 tongue/3500 overall is the recommended minimum for a Tab for a reason. Plenty choose to ignore that rule of thumb, and I’m sorry I listened to them.  For me, I’d take an XT any day over the less capable model, because I’m tired of managing around a merely adequate tow vehicle. I’m looking forward to the day I can afford to change cars and can stop fretting so much over weights every time I want to take the trailer out. (And to being able to increase my trailer’s battery capacity with a pair of 6v!)

    I’ll almost certainly buy another Subaru to replace this one, which will be the fourth one I’ve owned. They’re great cars overall. 
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (being replaced, not recommended!)
    Pacific NW
  • rcuomorcuomo Member Posts: 244
    Just an FYI, we have a 2018 320S and when I mounted the spare to the front it increased my tongue weight by 46.5# to 210#.  With my bike rack, two bikes, empty tanks, full propane my tongue weight is 286-290#. 139# wet for the new models seems optimistic. 
    ‘18 Tab 320S- mfg’d 4/17, acquired 9/17
    Spare & bike rack on tongue, Renogy suitcase connection, cargo & door nets, sway bar, wired rear camera, Norcold aux fan, front window protection, frame mounted sewer & water hose storage. 
    ‘17 Honda Ridgeline RTL-E- 5000# tow cap, 600# tongue cap
    ‘20 Honda Pilot Elite- 5000# tow cap, 500# tongue cap
    Huntington LI
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