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2020 Subaru Crosstrek - Will it tow?

I am buying a small teardrop trailer that weighs about 1200 pounds. Looking for a tow vehicle as follows:

  • will be my year-round car, with towing for camping etc;
  • can handle this small trailer comfortably;
  • ideally, a plug-in hybrid (former happy Prius owner, 210,000 miles, want to stay green)
    All guidance welcome! Subaru Crosstrek EV hybrid?

Pretty much impossible to recommend a car over the web. You need to feel comfortable in and with your new car. I’d suggest shopping around and test driving those candidates you like. Towing information is on every manufacturer’s website. 1200 is not much weight but some cars are not rated to tow anything at all. Make the salesman SHOW you the rating in a brochure because if you ask, they will guess or lie.

Or google 2020 tow ratings. There are guides posted with tow ratings of many many vehicles.


So, as PHEVs go, you have only three choices. The Crosstrek Hybrid, the Outlander PHEV, and the upcoming RAV4 PHEV. Personally? I’d wait for the RAV4. Here’s what we know as of now. ps - I am a four-time Subaru owner and my daily is a Forester.

Thanks so much, I’ll wait to see what the RAV PHEV is like. Drove an Outlander PHEV today for research, and my daughter has a Crosstrek. Because I plan to tow a (very cute) new teardrop trailer come spring and really want to camp through US, I need tow capacity for at least 1,100 pounds. I’m a former Prius driver and just can’t go for conventional gas mileage and emissions in order to travel the US, I hope that I can make driving/camping to natl parks etc as sustainable as possible and am planning some big miles over the next year or two.

Problem is, the Mitsubishi Overland is so far the only choice with enough tow capacity in the PHEV model. I wonder what is planned for the 2020 RAV?

Of course the sensible thing would be to just buy a Subaru with decent mileage and forget about the marginal green benefits of the hybrid electric, but I’m not giving up yet! Thanks for your thoughts

Since you’re wanting to take trips, why not just go for the non-plugin hybrid Rav4? You’re not going to get much benefit from the plug-in aspect on long trips. And depending on the source of the electricity, the environmental benefits could be small to zero, even ignoring the environmental cost of the bigger battery pack.

If 40 MPG is enough, the current RAV4 Hybrid AWD (no plug, just a hybrid) is hugely popular. Top-selling affordable green vehicle in America now. It outells all the affordable EVs combined each month.

You might want to up your tow rating, by the you pack all your camping gear plus cloth;s food + propane you will be over 1200 #'s.

Current Rav4 hybrid towing capacity is 1750 lbs. I’d want at least that much.

RAV4 hybrid might just be the ticket - at 40 mpg, wonder what the towing mileage penalty is? I’m sure it varies by many factors.

It would be reassuring to know that my teardrop camper would be well within the manufacturer’s towing limits for performance, safety and warrantee purposes. Wonder if there are deals out there on the 2019’s or if they are so popular there aren’t many left?

As with all towing, you’ll take a major mpg hit. Maybe you’ll get 30 mpg? 25 mpg? Towing doesn’t make the most of the hybrid system, because the engine is under load most of the time.

As a PHEV, it is probably eligible for the federal tax credit, and may be eligible for a state tax credit too. Depending on the size of the battery pack, the tax credit can be up to $7000 from the Feds.

yes, the credit is part of my rationale and is pretty persuasive.

Generally speaking, to tow anything with most any vehicle, you’re going to take a hit in MPG.

I’m all for fuel economy and salute you. But personally if I’m towing a trailer, I prefer a larger vehicle. Like a truck or something with a frame.

Just my two cents.


Thanks to all for your hybrid/PHEV tips. I’ve towed horses with a Tahoe for years, full rig w/weight distribution bars and brake box but here’s the little cupcake I need to tow - about 1,100 pounds dry with a few extras like propane tank and fresh water @ 9 gallons, maybe same for gray water. Solo camping here in New England and across US for National Parks next year, but also at home with lots of short trips most days in seacoast MA where the EV is easy, I have 110 and 220 in my garage already. So many good tips coming my way, thank you!!

Sounds like we should be asking you for towing tips! Looks like a fun trailer.

The Subaru’s towing capacity is only 1000 lbs. If fuel economy is really important, then skip the AWD and just go with FWD. Make up for it with premium tires and winter tires in the winter.

I would also recommend checking out the length of the vehicle behind the drivers seat to see if you can sleep in the back. That could work out for some overnight trips. More difficult for longer trips but I have done that for up to two weeks going around National Parks. Might consider a tent too.

From experience, you will find camping spots in the national parks hard to come by. They fill up very fast. You might be able to reserve them over the internet but I have not tried that. When I travel, I don’t like being tied to a schedule. I just kind of go where the whim takes me. But I do highly recommend southern Utah, it is a playground for outdoors types. My favorite vacation spot.

Vistabule says the trailer will weigh 1400 to 1500 pounds loaded, and you should look for a tow vehicle that meets that spec.

Going by your #'s at the 1500 if it was me I would look something capable of towing 2000 to 2500 to be on the safe side for the mountain;s both for the pulling up the hill the brakeing on the downhill side.

Your little cupcake can have electric brakes installed for an extra $395 and if you are planning to hit the National Parks, I would highly recommend that you get them. You will also need to confirm that any vehicle you select can come with or have installed the 7 pin trailer connection and not just the 4 pin.

That is a pricy little cupcake you are considering there. I think I’d pick a vehicle I could sleep in and save the cost and headaches of towing.

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I did order the brakes option for the trailer. Thanks for the camper suggestion but I need a vehicle to drive year-round too, my Prius just retired (collision) at 210,000 very cheap miles, maintenance and operating cost almost nothing. I’m moving up from life-long tenting so towing a small camper for short and long haul works for me, the challenge remains settling on the right tow vehicle. Perhaps there is no super green tow option that will work, obvious default is a suitable gas Subaru or Rav4.

Thanks to all for an interesting discussion!