Subaru Forester Towing Capacities

The Subaru Forester is definitely a popular and well-known vehicle on the road and if you've ever seen it you would know that it's a smaller crossover that takes a car and an SUV and combines them but you'd probably be surprised to know that these vehicles actually have a small towing capacity attached to them as well.

I was shocked myself when I found this out but after doing my research I was actually surprised to see that they could haul so much weight for being as little as they were. This article outlines what those maximum weight ratings are and even has charts listed that I pulled directly from the owner's manuals that you can browse through. Hope this article help somebody out there!

Overview of the Data For the Forester:

Engine Choices: There were not that many engine options available for the Forester over the years but the engine you had a quip didn't really make any difference when it came to the maximum trailer weight rating specifications, as no engines were listed in any of the charts except for the 2004 and 2003 models.

Manual vs Automatic Transmission: Some model years for the Subaru Forester add manual transmission and automatic transmission vehicles listed in their tow charts, and to be honest it didn't make a huge difference when it came to the maximum trailer weight rating figures.

For the 2002-2000 models the metrics were exactly the same when you compared the manual versus automatic transmission models and the same was true for 2013-2005 models.

For 2004 and 2003 models, it did make a slight difference to have a manual transmission equipped, as it had a 400-pound advantage over the automatic transmission option.

Towing Capacity: The towing capacity for these vehicles from 2000 all the way to 2021 really didn't change all that much and ranged from 1,000 lbs. on the low end of the spectrum and went all the way up to 2,400 lbs. maximum.

Now the 2,400 lb. capacity was listed for models that were made between 2013 - 2003 and I was quite surprised to see that the newer models had even smaller weight ratings that only went up to 1,500 pounds.

Many of the Forester's share the same exact data when it came to gross trailer weight ratings and what the vehicle can actually haul.

So instead of posting multiple charts with the same information, I group together certain model years and I only posted one chart but the information for all of those model years is the same in that group.

Be sure you always read your owner's manual in order to get all of the information you need, directly from the manufacturer going to make sure all of the information is up-to-date as possible.

2021-2014 Models:

The 2021-2014 models had a towing capacity that ranged from 1,000-1,500 lbs. and if we look at the chart below we can see that this was broken up into three different rows, the top row having the higher 1,500 pound limit and the two rows below that having the lower 1,000 pound capacity rating.

The lower 1000-pound capacity rating was listed for trailers that did not have their own independent brake systems and for more conditional types of situations that you might encounter on the road. Towing uphill, especially when it is hot outside, are two of the worst conditions you can encounter when towing with any vehicle and is why the maximum capacity is reduced.

I just wanted to reiterate that the 2021-2014 models all share the same chart (pictured below) and there were no variations when it came to the capacity numbers or the conditions that dictated the smaller capacity ratings.

2021 Subaru Forester Towing Chart

2021-2014 Charts

2013-2005 Models:

The 2013-2005 models had a different overall towing capacity than the later model years, ranging from 1,000 lbs. and going all the way up to 2,400 lbs., depending on a couple of different variables.

The chart for the 2013-2005 models looks a little different from the later model years chart and is divided up into manual transmission models and automatic transmission models, which you can see in the image below.

The overall maximum trailer weight rating was still the same for both manual and automatic transmission models, having the lower 1,000 pound rating and also having the higher 2,400 pound rating for both vehicles.

The lower 1,000 pound rating was, of course for trailers that did not have their own brake system equipped and the higher-capacity rating was reserved for trailers that had one of these systems equipped. 

The other variable that stood out was for the automatic transmission models that had that "conditional rule" when towing uphill and if the outside temperature was above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, but it did not state that for manual transmission models, so I'm not sure if it did not apply to those models or if it applied to both types of models.

2013 Subaru Forester Towing Chart

2013-2010 Charts

2004 & 2003 Models:

The 2004 and 2003 Foresters had almost identical specifications to the 2013 - 2005 models but the charts were a little bit different and is why I posted the 2004 and 2003 models in a separate section.

The Overall towing capacity for the 2004 and 2003 models were still the same, ranging from 1,000-2,400 pounds overall but if we look at the chart below we can see that the models that had an automatic transmission equipped only had a maximum 2,000 pound capacity, except for the turbo model, which had that higher 2,400 lb. capacity.

Other than that, all of the other information was identical when it came to whether your trailer had a braking system equipped or not and the same maximum trailer weight ratings associated with those conditions.

2004 Subaru Forester Towing Chart

2004 & 2003 Charts

2002-2000 Models:

The 2002-2000 models had almost identical charts, compared to the 2013-2005 models, but a lower specified maximum trailer weight rating. The towing capacity for the 2002-2000 models ranged from 1,000-2,000 pounds.

All of the other information was pretty much the same when it came to the lower capacity ratings that were reserved for trailers without their own braking system, the higher capacity ratings for trailers that had a brake system equipped and another lower capacity rating based on road conditions, specifically driving uphill on hot days.

2002 Subaru Forester Towing Chart

2002 Chart

GVWR, GCWR and GAWR Specs...

The certification label is found on nearly all vehicles nowadays, since manufacturers are required to put them on vehicles for safety reasons. This label contains a lot of important information, like the VIN, but also your gross vehicle weight rating and the gross axle weight rating for both the front and rear axles.

The certification label is usually found on the driver side door pillar and I was able to take a screenshot from one of the manuals where you might find the label for certain model years. It may not be in that exact spot that the image is showing, but it will be relatively close to somewhere in that area.

Subaru Certification Label

Subaru Certification Label

A Note On Trailer Brakes...

Subaru recommends having trailer brakes equipped if your trailer weighs 1,000 LBS or more, which is outlined Below in the image I grabbed from one of the owner's manuals.

Since most of the Foresters can tell over 1,000 lb, this will apply to most people. Remember that the weight of the trailer is supposed to be included when factoring in your overall tow capacity, so if your trailer weighs 500 lbs. and you have 600 lbs. in trailer cargo, you will need trailer brakes installed because the combined weight of the trailer and the cargo will weigh 1,100 pounds.

Forester Trailer Brakes

Trailer Brake Recommendations

Resources For This Article:

I used the owner's manuals from Subaru's website to gather all of the research you see on this page, including the charts, that are taken directly from the manuals themselves.

I usually list the manuals separately, but for each model year there were many manuals, one for each sub model and even though the data was the same for all models, I did not link to them buy model year, like I usually do.

All you have to do is head over to Subaru's website, fill out the information in the drop-down boxes of your model year, Forester under the model section and what sub model you have and you will find the information that you need for your specific vehicle.

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