The 2018 Subaru Outbacks are usually known for their reliability and great traction in the snow, but they also have a fantastic towing capacity attached to them that I was not aware of myself, before writing this article.
There are some limitations that you should be aware of that will affect your maximum trailer weight rating, but I laid out all of that information in this article and tried to make it as easy to read as possible, as I sorted and organized the information. I hope this article help somebody out there!
Always read through your owner's manual to get all the required information you need on your vehicle, including all the tow related information.
2018 Subaru Outback Tow Overview
Overall Towing Capacity:
The overall towing capacity for the 2018 Subaru Outbacks ranged from 1,000-2,700 lbs., depending on whether your trailer had its own braking system equipped and certain driving conditions.
There were two different engine options available for the 2018 Outbacks, and this was either a 2.5L (four-cylinder) engine or a 3.6L (six-cylinder) engine.
Models & Submodels Available:
There were only four different trim levels available, but if we combine those with the two different engine options, we had a total of six different sub models for this particular model year Subaru. These six submodels were: the 2.5i, the 2.5i Premium, the 2.5i Limited, the 2.5i Touring, the 3.6i Limited and the 3.6i Touring models.
Assumed Weight: I could not find any information in the owner's manual that stated any assumed weight of a driver or any passengers in the maximum trailer weight ratings specified in the charts. Usually a driver's weight is included in the vehicle's weight to get the maximum weight specs, but I could not find that information stated.
The towing charts for the 2018 Subaru Outbacks were pretty simple to read and laid out according to which engine you had equipped in your vehicle. As you can see below, the two different engine options were either a 3.6 L engine or a 2.5 L engine. You can also see maximum trailer weight ratings for unbraked and braked trailers, along with another figure that is listed and what I would call "extreme driving conditions".
If your trailer did not have its own braking system equipped, then you had only about a third of the total capacity that you would if you had trailer brakes equipped and only about half of the maximum trailer weight capacity rating under "extreme driving conditions" which are usually associated with uphill grades and high temperatures.
Below the maximum trailer weight rating charts, you can see the maximum tongue rating chart that I found that shows a maximum weight of two hundred pounds, even though the max gross trailer weight rating is 2,700 lbs. which is close to about 7.5%.
Braked and Unbraked Trailer Weights
As I mentioned earlier, the charts had two different trailer weight ratings, one for trailers that did not have their own braking system equipped or unbraked trailers and trailers that have their own braking system equipped, also known as braked trailers.
If we look at the charts we can see that the maximum trailer weight rating for trailers that had their own braking system equipped was set at 2,700 pounds for both engine options in this vehicle and the unbraked trailer weight rating was set at a maximum of 1,000 lbs. So both metrics were the same no matter which engine you had except for when towing under more extreme conditions where the outside temperature higher and you were traveling up a long uphill grade.
GCWR: I could not find any information that listed the gross combined weight rating or where I could find it anywhere, but you could always take the gross vehicle weight rating and add the maximum trailer weight rating of 2,700 lbs. to get a closed estimate, if you had to.
GVWR & GAWR: The gross vehicle weight rating and gross axle weight ratings were not listed in the owner's manual or the brochure, but I was able to find where they are listed on the vehicle. Both of these figures will be listed on the certification label that you can find on the driver side door pillar, which is illustrated by the image below. These two figures will be listed, along with a lot of other helpful information.
Curb Weights: For those of you out there they want to perform more advanced calculations, I was able to find the curb weight for these vehicles in the 2018 brochure that I linked to at the bottom of this article.
For those of you out there that do not know, the curb weight is basically the closest estimation of the vehicle's weight with all included fluids, including a full tank of gas and all standard equipment. This figure can come in handy if you are planning on towing a vehicle behind you or trying to figure out how much cargo you can haul inside your vehicle.
To get a more accurate figure, I would recommend going to a scale and weighing the vehicle, if you need a more exact figure. You can find commercial scales at many places, including some truck stops, county waste disposal areas, etc.
Special Driving Conditions:
I did touch a bit earlier in this article on one of the charts for the 2018 Subaru Outbacks, but I wanted to clarify what this means. When towing with any vehicle if the outside temperatures are in the 90s (F) or higher, then your vehicle runs the risk of overheating because you are pulling additional weight with the vehicle, which put more stress on the engine and transmission, specifically the ability for the engine/transmission to cool itself down adequately.
Another factor that will affect your vehicle's performance is long uphill grades, as they put additional strain on the vehicle, along with the additional trailer weight, which also affects your vehicle's ability to cool the engine and transmission as well as it should.
When you combine these two factors, you get a recipe for the most extreme conditions you will encounter when towing with your vehicle, and is why Subaru listed a much lower trailer weight rating for these conditions.
It is important to note that these two conditions do not have to be present at the same time and even on their own can impact the vehicle's ability to perform how it should, so you will want to be aware of the outside temperature, driving up a long uphill grades and another factor that a lot of people don't think about is running your air conditioner, which also puts additional strain on your vehicle, especially when pulling a trailer behind you.
Do Trim Levels Affect Max Trailer Weight?
There or four different trim levels available for the 2018 Outbacks, but if we combine this with the two different engine options, we get a total of six different trim levels and engine options for this specific model year vehicle. The image below shows the different models and the number before the trim level (2.5 & 3.6) indicates which engine you had equipped, either the 2.5 L or 3.6 L engine.
The six different options for the 2018 Subaru Outbacks were listed as: a 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring and the towing capacity was still the same for all 6 options, ranging from 1,000 lbs., going all the way up to a maximum of 2,700 lbs.
The trim level did not seem to affect the maximum trailer weight ratings at all, the only difference we noticed on the charts were from the engine options that were available and this was only for the special road conditions listed in the charts.
Important Safety Notes:
I was also able to find additional information in the owner's manual that was really geared toward safety but included certain weight limits and how your trailer should be loaded in order to maintain a stable load while driving down the road.
I want to reiterate how important it is to read through your owner's manual to get familiar with your vehicle, not only when pulling a trailer behind you but for everything else that you may encounter, because the owner's manual is a pretty helpful resource that talks about a lot if circumstances and situations that you might encounter.
I always like to do my research using the manufacturer's resources, and I wanted to link to two of the resources that I used for this article for those of you out there that want to do your own research. Below are links to the 2018 Outback owner's manual and PDF brochure that I found online that were helpful to me when gathering all the information for this article.