Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Ajax_MD, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Ajax_MD

    Ajax_MD New Member

    Aug 8, 2018
    I've towed before, but I find my self in sort of a gray area.

    I'm only going to tow this camper once per year, 300 miles round-trip, on flat ground. That's it.

    I'm looking to tow a 2200lb. Coleman Plantation with a 2015 Subaru Outback 4 cyl. rated for 2700lbs. This thing has a CVT (transmission). This is within the stated towing capacity and within the stated type of towing that I'll be doing. Is anyone here towing with a Subaru equipped with a CVT? Any issues? Tips? Advice?
  2. Snow

    Snow Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    After owning a CVT car for just shy of 10 years and less then 195000 KM's, I WOULDN'T tow anything more then a bike rack with a CVT..

    Are your sure the Plantation is only 2200lbs ? thought they were a heavy pup?
    kitphantom likes this.
  3. p

    p Active Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    Too much. I tow same weight but with a 3600 lb towing capacity vehicle.
  4. emoney

    emoney Well-Known Member

    Jul 7, 2018
    It’s not all about the ability to tow but even more so the ability to stop. You’re asking far too much from your car, and even if the weight of the pup is 2200lbs that doesn’t include people in the car or gear. Sometimes those ratings don’t even include full propane tanks.

    Have you thought about renting one or the other? If you know for a fact it’s only going to get used 1 time a year, get on RVShare or similar and rent the pup when you need it.
  5. Ajax_MD

    Ajax_MD New Member

    Aug 8, 2018
    - I'm working from the Coleman manual which states 2200 GVWR but states that the camper (dry) is 2000lb.
    - The Coleman Plantation has electric brakes and they work perfectly.
    - People and gear- 2 humans, 2 dufflebags. That's it. We buy our food and ice when we get there.

    This is an annual family routine (her family) and we're tired of getting flooded out of our tent every year by summer rains or I wouldn't have even bothered buying a pop-up.

    My sister in-law rents a popup for this event every year and the rental process is an enormous hassle. For $500 I can own this thing and park it next to my garage. I actually think renting a pickup truck would be less of a logistical headache so I will consider that option.

    After examining the construction of the popup, I'm considering some minor modifications that will lighten it by a few hundred pounds, such as re-creating the bathroom panels with lighter material, etc.

    Is there some reason why I should not trust the camper and Subaru manuals' stated capacities and weights?
  6. davekkk

    davekkk Active Member

    Oct 7, 2013
    I have a family member that tows with a 2015 or 16 Outback with the CVT transmission. But they tow a 900 lb teardrop. Did fine on a cross country trip out west and back to WI. But even with the teardrop with no propane or battery on the hitch, it made the rear of the Subaru sag a bit and it was just two people. The Plantation was a large pup I believe, might be a bit much.
  7. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

    Nov 3, 2015
    North East Florida
    Go for're within the limits towing on flat ground.
  8. BBQdave

    BBQdave Member

    Aug 31, 2016
    North Carolina
    Given that you are only doing this once a year, maybe...

    We had a Honda with CVT, did not tow, but loaded up with gear on family trips. By 100K miles we were replacing the CVT for the third time - we got rid of the Honda.

    Probably be able to do what you are proposing, but it will shorten the life of your vehicle.

    Perhaps I am too cautious, but my Nissan Frontier is rated Payload 1200lbs and towing 6000lbs. I will never tow over 3000lbs and am mindful of my payload which is usually around 800lbs. I am hoping this will allow my Nissan to last a good while, and it functions smoothly at these weight parameters.
  9. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    Plantation was probably hugest of all popups at that time.
  10. Ajax_MD

    Ajax_MD New Member

    Aug 8, 2018
    Well, based on all of the negativity I will probably tow the popup this weekend for one trip and then sell it.

    Owning this thing is not worth selling my Outback to upgrade to an F-350 Super Duty just to avoid sleeping on the ground once per year.
    Thanks for all the advice.
  11. emoney

    emoney Well-Known Member

    Jul 7, 2018
    You get real answers to questions around here. And just because they don’t all happen to confirm the desired responses does not mean they’re negative. Good luck and hope you find a buyer soon.
  12. Ajax_MD

    Ajax_MD New Member

    Aug 8, 2018
    Hey, I didn't come here just looking for validation of a flawed plan or answers that "conform" to my desires but no one here really presented any factual information as to why a short, flat, infrequent tow that is within the stated specifications of my properly equipped vehicle is a bad idea.

    Just a lot of emotional "Don't do it!" responses from people not familiar with my car or my pop-up. These are not what I consider "real answers."

    I was hoping for some actual data or perhaps at least anecdotal information from other Subaru towers. I'd hoped that maybe another Subaru owner inhabited this forum. I really should have just gone to the Outback owners forum first. When I did check there, I found answers that provided engine operating temperatures, transmission temperatures, possible options for adding transmission coolers, and information about braking and CVT transmission failures related to towing. Those are what I consider "real answers" but thanks for your input. It's absolutely my fault for asking the question in the wrong area and I apologize for wasting everyone's time.

    I'll tow the camper to the local dump to have it weighed to make absolutely certain that I'm safely within my towing limits before I use it this weekend, and then put it up for sale afterwards or if I decide that I really, really want to keep it, I'll rent an MTVR or an up-armored HUMVEE to tow it in the future. My only concern is that Oshkosh may not offer weekend rentals to civilians.

  13. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
    hope you get the outback's axle weighed separately with trailer in tow. and weight the tongue at home with a bathroom scale. You are very close to the limits, btw the plantation I looked up ('88 brochure) had no GVWR listed, a dry or unloaded (not sure the terminology back then) or ~2200, with a tongue weight of 205lb with notes about +/- 5%/approximations etc. Cool weather would be a benefit as would finding a route with lower speed limits. Happy camping.
  14. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

    Oct 3, 2007
    Waterford, Ct
    SUBARU OWNER HERE I towed my 2000 Coleman Cheyenne all over the place with my 2011 Forester 2.5 liter non turbo 100,000 mile ...... but I have 2 things going for me. I added a transmission oil cooler infront of the radiator and I has a 4 speed automatic transmission. Never a problem. I have been in the auto business for over 50 years. I never thought I would ever own a Subaru, but this has been a great car. I do not like/trust CVT transmissions and avoid towing with them. Our trailer always have working brakes. I'm not going to tell you to sell your camper or the Subaru, that is your decision to make. Hook up the trailer and take it for a ride on a quiet road, see how it acts, stops, etc.
  15. mattlreese

    mattlreese Active Member

    Sep 6, 2017
    I feel your pain about negativity with towing posts. We have a 2014 Outback and while we do not tow with it I can provide some advice.
    1. You should find a subaru outback forum and post your question there. Subaru has a very active community and you should get better answers.

    2. In the past CVT's did have a history of towing issues. Personally, I would trust the CVT in a Subaru, they know what they are doing. Also the paddle sifters do give you some additional control. Also figure the 6 cylinder outback can tow 3500 lbs, but the frame, transmission and everything else in the car is the same in your car.

    3. I looked on line and I tried to find the Gross combined vehicle weight rating (GCWR) for the outback and I could not find it. It should be in your manual under towing somewhere. Bottom line is when towing if you have cargo and passengers in the car the tow rating is not 2700 lbs. 2700 lbs is typically calculated based on a full tank of gas and a 150 lb driver only. GCWR is the max combined car, driver, passengers, cargo, and trailer weight you can pull.

    4. I tow with a minivan which has a tow capacity of 3500 lbs. I have a 2500 lb trailer dry (which includes the AC on the roof). My max GVWR is 8600 lbs. I weighed my whole setup (3/4 tank of gas, 3 kids in car seats, wife, cargo, trailer, etc) and it came to 8100 lbs. Giving me about 500 lbs of spare weight, which is really not that much. Eventually the kids will weigh more, I did not carry any water, etc. I also am not able to tow above 4000 ft with my setup. I actually passed on a popup that was 300 more lbs then the one I got because I was concerned about weight.

    5. You will need a 7 pin connector, brake controller, and likely rear suspension air bags, to tow that much weight. Fortunately, you have a very popular car with multiple model years so you should be able to buy everything you need online.

    Best of luck to you!
  16. Ajax_MD

    Ajax_MD New Member

    Aug 8, 2018
    For rabird- who could not find the GVWR for the Coleman Plantation, it's in the owners manual. I have the pdf but it's too large to upload here. It lists GVWR, GAWR, dry curb weight etc, etc.

    mattlreese- I've already installed the 7-pin and controller. I've already asked my questions on the Outback forums and received answers with numbers and real-time use. You're right- the older CVTs have a less than stellar history. There is not yet enough data on the new CVTs but so far, no one is reporting anything negative. I'm being advised to have the CVT drained and refilled as this is considered "extra duty."
  17. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2013
    Anchorage, AK
    @Ajax_MD Every forum has its own personality. PUP leans conservative, very helpful, but conservative. Most advice is provided from past bad experiences.

    I share your pain though, because I am a "git 'er done" kind of personality.

    Given that, here's my opinion on your question: given your level of research, knowledge of your vehicles and level of inquiry, you'd do fine towing it with a Smart Car. I say this not based on the numbers, but on the fact you've given it a lot of thought, know how the reaction between tow vehicle and trailer impacts the vehicle and what to expect. Given that, you'd be mindful, careful and anticipate problems along the way.

    The truly clueless car owner who goes and buys a large, heavy PUP and tows it with a Toyota Corolla survives by blissful ignorance. You do not have that option because you are highly informed.

    CAN it tow it? YES, I guarantee it will go, stop, turn and roll. Will you cause undue damage to the vehicle? Maybe, maybe not. Is the risk level acceptable? Ah, that's a call only you can make. Since you're mindful and informed of how towing impacts the go, stop, turn and roll, I'd say you have a higher risk threshold than most.

    So, if you're in the Subaru performance envelope, informed of the potential impacts, and are within your personal acceptable risk pocket, I'd say you have your answer without needing a numerical basis for your decision tree. I know what I would do... and I do it every trip. My envelope numbers are much like yours in percentile, just higher in value.

    Best of luck... go camp.
    BBQdave and myride like this.
  18. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    I found out the hard way when I damaged my 99 Explorer by ignoring the tow guidance.
  19. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
  20. durhamcamper

    durhamcamper Active Member

    Apr 21, 2010
    Pickering, Ontario
    Why so hostile? You come into a forum and post a question, and people respond with opinions and advice and you start criticizing their responses. It's a forum for goodness sakes! It's a bunch of very nice people offering their 2 cents and then being chastised for doing so. It's as if you want absolute confirmation that nothing will go wrong if you tow when being close to the manufacturer's weight limits on towing. If you are so happy with the info from the Subaru forum, why continue with this rant? Yikes!
    myride, Snow and emoney like this.

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