Car make and model: A 2015 model year Subaru Outback 3.6R (six cylinders)
Weight fully loaded for travel: 4500 pounds
Tow capacity: 3000 pounds (Note: newer Outbacks have less tow capacity).
My Safari Condo Alto 1743 weight: varies between 2500 and 2600 pounds, as measured on certified truck scales. Tongue weight last time I checked was 210 pounds.
Highest speed on freeways: 65 mph mostly, occasionally up to 70 when the speed limit is 80 (e.g. West Texas). I currently have Carlisle tires on my Alto, Load D rated to 81 mph. I tend to drive 55-60 most of the time.
The biggest challenges towing so far:
- Death Valley. You can read about it on my website.
- Golden Gate Canyon, CO (up to 8500 feet)
- WY to the Grand Tetons (over a few 5K passes)
What generally goes in the Subaru: patio mats, chair, footstool, small grill, folding kayak, generator, tools and toolbox, most of a small telescope and other things that I don’t need on a regular basis.
Roof box (Thule, Yakima type): No. Don’t need it so far.
- Towing mileage: 14-16 mpg at 55 mph average speed. In headwinds and long grades, it will usually go down to 11-12 mpg but rpm has never gone above 3500. If I drive 60-65 mph, the mileage goes down to 11-12 mpg.
- Non-towing mileage: 25-28 mpg
- Subaru (Nov 2019): 80,000 miles
- Alto (Nov 2019): 40,600 miles
Hitch: The Torklift EcoHitch for the Outback.
Weight distribution bars: Yes. Fastway E2, rated for 4000 pounds. I never drive without them
Wireless brake controller: Yes, Prodigy RF wireless (installed at Safari Condo)
Mirror extensions: Yes, from Amazon. The Outback is much narrower than the Alto, so they help me see the 200 feet behind that most states require for vehicles towing anything.
Rearview camera: Yes, from Safari Condo. I drive with it turned on; otherwise, there is a small blind spot right behind the trailer (which is where tailgaters love to go).
Dashcam: Yes, from Amazon
Subaru Maintenance Notes
I follow the severe maintenance schedule for the Subaru Outback. This involves more frequent oil changes and tire rotations, and changing out the CVT fluid every 33,000 miles.
I’ve replaced tires at 25K and 39K and 61K.
I replaced the rear struts at 42K because the right one had cracked. I think this was due to a bad pothole incident the previous month.
I’ve replaced the windshield twice, both times due to rocks dinging the glass too close to the edge to repair, so replacements were required. This model Subaru has the heated windshield, in case you need to know that.
The tow vehicle question is personal to each Alto owner. Here are some questions to think about as you weigh your choices.
- Where will you be camping (Rocky Mountains or the flat coastline of the East Coast)?
- What model Alto you will have (they each weigh differently)?
- What options are you getting (each adds to the trailer weight)?
- How long you will travel (weekend trips vs. 6 month sojourns, that may require more stuff and more room.
I cannot say what tow vehicle will work for you. I suggest joining the Altoiste group on Facebook and then searching through that group for Subaru and tow vehicle discussions (there is a lot of information there).
Nothing in this page is to be construed as recommending the Outback for anyone else’s towing needs. I am quite happy with my setup and it does well given where I’ve been (you can look at the Where’s Annie links on the menu at the top of the website to see where I have and have not been so far).