Subaru Outback Towing Capacities

The Subaru Outback has become an increasingly popular crossover vehicle and even today you see them everywhere on the road but did you know did they actually have towing capabilities as well?

This caught me by surprise and I decided to do a little bit of research to see how much these little vehicles could pull and I was quite surprised by some of the results I found!

In this article I lay out all the information I found in the owner's manuals that I grabbed directly from Subaru's website and compile the information in sort of a resource guide type of format. Let's get into it!

Overview of the Data For the Outback:

Engine Choices: There were a few different engine options over the course of the Outback life but to be honest, the engine you had equipped didn't make a huge difference when it came to capacity numbers, overall.


I do want to make it clear that there was a difference in the capacity numbers, depending on what engine you had equipped, but this only equated to 300-800 lbs. and not thousands of pounds like some other manufacturers, but it did make some impact.

Configurations: There were no real variations for this vehicle that equated to the fluctuations in the capacity ratings, like some manufacturer's vehicles. The charts basically had three different capacities listed: one weight specified for trailers with brakes, another for trailers without brakes, and yet another (reduced) weight specification for steep inclines and hot weather.

Towing Capacity: Over the years the Subaru Outback has not really changed all that much when it comes to towing capacity overall, in fact most models ranged from 1,000-3,000 pounds. The earlier models (2004-2000) had slightly lower ratings than the other model years and the newest models had some of the highest ratings, going all the way up to 3,500 lbs.

Some model years share the same metrics in their charts don't self posting the same chart four different model years, I grouped them together, in some cases but the information will be accurate for all model years listed in that section.

Be sure to read through the owner's manual yourself to get familiar with your particular vehicle tend to be as up-to-date as possible on everything Subaru recommends when it comes to pulling a trailer or anything else.

2021 & 2020 Models:

The 2021 and 2020 models had two different engine choices to choose from, as you can see in the chart below and these were either a 2.4 L engine or a 2.5 L engine. The towing capacity ranged from 1,000 lbs. and went all the way up to 3,500 pounds and really was dependent upon the engine you had equipped and whether the trailer you were pulling had its own braking system installed.

If we look at the 2.5 liter models in the chart below, we can see that it had a 2,700 lb. maximum trailer weight rating, as opposed to the 3,500 pound rating that the 2.4L engine was capable of pulling. This surprise me because the 2.5L engine is slightly bigger but that seemed to make no difference in this case.

2021 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2021 & 2020 Charts

2019 & 2018 Models:

The 2019 and 2018 models had a bit less towing capacity on the higher end of the spectrum than we saw for the 2020 and 2021 models and overall a range of between 1,000 - 2,700 lbs.

There were also different engine choices available for these model years, which were either a 3.6L engine or that same 2.5L engine. Both engines had identical metrics when we looked at the chart, and I'm very surprised by this because the 3.6 liter engine is much larger than its 2.5L counterpart that is also offered.

2019 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2019 Chart

2017 Models:

The 2017 models had almost identical specs when we compared it to the 2019 and 2018 models, but if we look at the chart we can see that it is a little bit different, mainly when it comes to the models equipped to the 2.5 L engine. The overall towing capacity stayed the same for the 2017 Outbacks, which ranged from 1,000-2,700 lbs.

The 2.5 L engine option came in either a manual transmission or a continuous variable transmission, which is basically just an all-wheel drive version and this is how the chart was split up, even though both manual transmission models CVT models still had the same exact specs when we compare the two.

2017 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2017 Chart

2016-2010 Models:

The 2016-2010 models all have the same chart associated with them because they use the same engine lineup, so I posted one chart that applies to all of these model years. The towing capacity for the 2016-2010 Outbacks ranged from 1,000-3,000 lbs.

I did post two separate charts below and the top chart is for the 2016 - 2013 models, while the chart below that is for the 2012 - 2010 models, but essentially, all of the information is the same if you compare the two charts. It was just laid out differently when it came to the lower portions of the charts.

2016 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2016-2013 Charts

2012 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2012-2010 Charts

2009-2005 Models:

The 2009-2005 models had a different engine lineup, as you can see in the chart below with the 3.0 L engine being at the top, and other models equipped with a different engine below that. The towing capacity was still the same for the 2009 - 2005 models compared to the 2016 - 2010 models, ranging from 1,000 pounds at the low end and going all the way up to 3,000 pounds on the higher end.

The lower portion of the chart shows manual transmission models, along with automatic transmission models, but both what types of transmissions have essentially the same maximum trailer weight specifications rated except for the automatic transmission models which have a conditional weight limit attached to it.

2009 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2009-2005 Charts

2004 & 2003 Models:

The 2004 and 2003 models had a completely different chart than what we saw before and these were divided up into manual transmission and automatic transmission models, along with the Outback wagon chart, showing above and then all other models below that chart, as separate specifications.

We can also see that the towing capacity did change a little bit from the later model years, ranging from 1,000 pounds and going all the way up to just 2,400 lbs.

The Outback wagon models had most of the power for the 2004 and 2003 models compare to the other options available at that time and a 400 lb difference is pretty significant when you consider the overall maximum trailer weight ratings.

2004 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2004 & 2003 Charts

2002-2000 Models:

The 2002-2000 models had the lowest towing capacity ratings out of all of the model years we looked at so far, only ranging from 1,000 - 2,000 lbs., with a much more simplified chart they'd only showed manual and automatic transmission models listed.

There were also no models listed on the chart or engine specifications, which makes the chart easy to read and understand.

2002 Subaru Outback Towing Chart

2002-2000 Charts

GVWR, GCWR and GAWR Specs...

I was not able to find the gross combined weight rating metrics anywhere online or in the owner's manuals, but I was able to find the gross vehicle weight rating and gross axle weight ratings, or where you can find the information, at least.

The gross vehicle weight rating and gross axle weight ratings were not listed in any of the owner's manuals, but the manuals did specify where I can find this information.

The certification label can be found if you open the driver's side door of your vehicle and look for a sticker on the door jamb or in that area. This label will contain a lot of useful information including the gross vehicle weight rating and gross axle weight ratings.

Subaru Certification Label

Subaru Certification Label

A Note On Trailer Brakes...

Trailer brakes were required for trailers that weighed 1000 lb or more and that was for every model year and was stated in every chart I have posted in this article. In fact, the lower maximum trailer weight ratings were set at 1,000 pounds for trailers that did not have a braking system equipped.

Forester Trailer Brakes

Resources For The Outback's:

All of the information in this article came from the Outback's owner's manuals that I grabbed directly from Subaru's website because I wanted the information to be as accurate as possible and I usually link to the individual manuals but in this case each manual was for a specific model, so I chose not to link to any of the manuals.

I did check out the different manuals and compared the specifications and discovered that the trailer weight rating specs were shared for each model year so it didn't matter what Manuel you looked at, as the trailer weight rating metrics were identical.

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