Towing with Outback Limited 2.5i, 4 cylinder


Asked by Dec 15, 2015 at 11:11 PM about the 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

Question type: General

Is the 4 cyl rated for 2,700 lbs of towing truly capable of towing 2,100 lbs 5-6
times yearly on 400 mile long trips of continuous driving (2,500 of 12,000 mi.
annually)??  Or will such towing shorten the useful life of a vehicle otherwise
capable of over 200,000 miles??

27 Answers


That would be a good assumption.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

What would be a "good assumption"??... That I cannot get 200,000 miles towing 2,500 miles a year with EITHER a 4 cyl or 6 cyl??

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Yeah I know it says Legacy in the link but Chapter 8 Page 21 -22 covers Outback. From Subaru -- decide after reading that


From what I have read, towing with the CVT can cause transmission issues. If you are going to tow a lot, get a real tow vehicle like a SUV or pickup.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Bingo FoR.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Drmuskie, well, with respect for the other responses, I have to disagree on the towing issue and here's why, Subaru has migrated to the CVT transmission in 2015 exclusively since they first introduced it on the 2010 Outback, which is precisely the car I have with the 2.5 Four. And, I've towed my car and teardrop trailer all the way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, that's almost 9,000 feet with no problems. My advice is this, if you are towing 2,100 pounds, just be certain not to overload your car. And, if Subaru didn't have confidence in the CVT, they would have never introduced it and continued to advertise the tow capacity of 2,700 pounds. Also, get the CVT transmission fluid changed at recommended intervals, consult your manual or talk with the dealership. Yes, I know people will disagree with me, spare your comments, but, they could have just left the old 5EAT transmission in the new vehicles and they chose to move forward with the CVT transmission. I'm no expert, but, in conversations I've had with some friends who are engineers, they told me that the CVT transmissions are superior, less complicated and more efficient for the power, the engine is always in the right power band. My two cents. Happy towing, I say go for it, just take it easy on take offs. Once you are rolling, do whatever you want.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Drmuskie, if you properly maintain your car, I see no reason why you can't go 200,000 miles. By the way, the 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6 , H6, had the old 5 electronic automatic transmission. They must have known something moving forward with the CVT for both H4 and H6 in 2015. They only offered the CVT transmission on the Four cylinder Outback for 2010 -2014 models.


All I did was point to owners manual Mark. "Your vehicle is designed and intended to be used primarily as a passenger-carrying vehicle.Towing a trailer puts additional loads on your vehicle's engine, drivetrain, brakes, tires and suspension and has an adverse effect on fuel economy. "CVT MODEL "When towing a trailer without brakes. 1,000 lbs (453 kg) When towing a trailer with brakes. 2,700 lbs (1,224 kg) When towing a trailer on a long uphill grade continuously for over 5 miles (8 km) 1,350 lbs

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer

The CVTs are now starting to enter statistically significant failure rates. Is it stress related or related to dirty fluid? Time will tell. Subie was VERY afraid to offer the CVT initially with the H6, but very poor fuel eco forced their hand...perhaps sensibly. I am being VERY ginger with my clients re stressing the CVT, including keeping towing loads under the "old" 1500lb limit. Additionally, the poor suspension of the modern OBs doesn'tt lend itself to dragging anything approaching an equal mass behind it, eh? Vomitorium, anyone?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I believe the CVT's are VERY expensive to replace so keep that in mind when making a choice. CVT's are hardly a proven choice for a towing vehicle, if they were you would be seeing them in Ford Super Duty trucks.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

TheSubaruGuruBoston ,-- so, at what mileage are you starting to see these CVT transmissions starting to fail?




I asked what mileage, not year.


Subaru is pushing the limits on mechanical reliability with the CVT and the 0W-20 oil they specify in order to make small gains in mileage in order to comply with ludicrous government demands for ever increasing fuel economy. As always it is the customer who ends up on the losing end of things. As far as the CVT and economy I can tell you that I have driven both the manual and the CVT and there is a small increase in mileage on the highway with the CVT but none at all in mountain driving.


Based on what Ford posted, I would not tow a row boat with a CVT. 1350 pounds up a hill is virtually useless.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I'm of two minds on this, Towing 1500 lbs with the 2.5i CVT is similar to towing nothing with the 2.0i CVT in the Impreza. The result is that the latter has to rev up much higher in order to overcome inertia via the CVT. MAY be ok...if indeed stressful. Mark, 2010 (sic)


TheSubaruGuruBoston, thanks, but, again , give us a mileage estimate. Are we talking about over 125,000 miles or more? You just can't say 2010.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

So far it's been 2010's.


Ernie, so , you don't want to state the mileage? Why is that?


Ernie, yes, I find it's interesting that the 2011( 9 %) and 2014 (12 %) Subaru Outbacks according to True Delta, have a correspondingly higher percentage of repairs than the 2010 (6 %) model for transmission problems. Are you getting your information strictly from anecdotal evidence in your personal encounters with your clients? If you are, that's not a fair representation? See this,


By the way, your favorite years, the 2005 to 2009 have shown many failings especially with the suspension problems, with most of those cars having over 25 percent repairs and problems to their suspension. Sorry, the record speaks for itself.


Mark, $50 sway bar end links and $10 bushings are dirtying up your analysis. Wait until the floors rot out on the 2010+ OBs to see where owners' pocketbooks REALLY get hit! The real data is with the NorthEast indies who service hundreds of these each month. Learn something about specialized population sampling technique before you throw meaningless broad stat data at me, please. Happy Holidays.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Ernie, Happy Holidays to you as well! Listen, I understand it might be different in your region of the USA? And, the statistics I cited are from True Delta, I understand that they're pretty reliable folks there. Anyway, you know I'm in Southern California. We don't see cars with rotted out floors here, oh, maybe when the car is over 50 years old, LOL . And, I would never keep the car that long under any circumstances. Peace.

Man, come here to learn about Subaru towing capacity, and learn more about Men Got Snark.


kackle, it's 20-seventeen! To your point, SOA has always played games w/ towing cap recs. It's been interesting to watch them raise the limits from 0 to 2500lbs in steps over the decades without meaningful changes to the bolt-on nice Draw-Tite et al rear hitches used. Here in the NE we're used to seeing Legs and OBs tow OTHER Legs and OBs since 1990. The limiting factor is NOT the torquey 2.5i nor the rear unibody subframe, but the condition of the transmission fluid! Seriously...just ensure your ATF/CVTF is clean and have at it up to 3000lbs. Keep tire pressures up at 35psi too. The only caveat I suppose is that the newer Imp/CT 2.0 is NOT recommended for towing much, as its pretty wimpy. As well, towing is better performed with the slushboxes as otherwise it's clutch-eating behavior.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Very helpful, Guru! Much appreciated.

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