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New Subaru Forester Fails Active Customers In One Key Area

The New 2019 Subaru Forester is arriving at dealers now. It fails active customers in one key area.


Subaru attracts customers with active lifestyles and they want a vehicle with a “go-anywhere” attitude which the Forester has in its DNA. But Subaru Corporation failed these adventurous customers by not improving the new fifth-generation Forester’s tow rating. If you want to tow anything larger than a small utility trailer with the newly-redesigned Forester SUV, you are out of luck.

The fifth-generation Forester does get a newly-upgraded 2.5-liter boxer engine with direct injection, higher compression, along with active valve control system (AVCS) on the exhaust side. The new engine produces 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, versus 170 hp and 174 lb-ft in the previous-generation Forester.

The 2019 Forester is off-road ready featuring a driver-selectable X-Mode with Hill Descent Control Active AWD front/rear clutch force, brakes and the Vehicle Dynamics Control system to optimize wheel control on slippery surfaces and steep inclines. The Sport, Limited and Touring models come standard with a dual-mode version of X-Mode that offers Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes for even more off-road capability. So why not a higher tow rating?

Forester still comes with 1500 lb tow rating

But Forester’s powertrain only allows up to 1,500-lb. towing capacity. The 2019 Forester does come standard with a Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) helping maintain vehicle stability while towing. But you can’t tow as much as the Outback and new Ascent family hauler.

Many owners are looking for a vehicle that will tow a small camper, boat or multi-purpose trailer. Forester can tow a small utility trailer, but for anything bigger, you'll need the Outback or Ascent. The Subaru Outback has a 2,700 lb. rating (3,000 lb. with optional 3.6-liter engine). The new Ascent will tow up to 5000 lbs. The small SUV competition even offers a higher tow rating. RAV4 Hybrid (1750 lb.), Mazda CX-5 (2,000 lb.), Ford Escape (1500-2000 lb.).

The new 2019 Subaru Forester still only offers a 1,500 lb. tow rating like the outgoing model. Subaru Corp failed those customers wanting to tow their small camper, boat or multi-purpose trailer.

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Photo credit: Subaru Corporation


Ed B (not verified)    October 9, 2018 - 3:43PM

Interesting, not my issue but without a turbo engine there is no way to increase towing capacity on the new Forester. The new engines are already under-powered. Perhaps that may spur Subaru to reconsider if there is enough consumer push back.

Larry (not verified)    October 9, 2018 - 8:24PM

Ya’ll name one small SUV that towes 5,000 lbs. I’ll wait. I swear Torque News is running out of content to write about. Subaru clients bike, hike, kayak, and camp. The hitch is used typically for Thule bike racks and a small trailer at most by Subaru clients.

Tim Finnigan (not verified)    October 9, 2018 - 8:30PM

So true. I have recently been shocked at my 2015 Foresters low tow rating. I did not buy it for tow but now want to tow a small trailer. I must get a slightly smaller trailer than I wanted so my Forester won't have to pull over 1200. I don't want to be up at the max 1500.

Joe (not verified)    October 9, 2018 - 9:09PM

Typical Subaru. I manage a RV dealership and get this question all the time." Can I tow this with my Subaru". Answer---NO

Pssst3` (not verified)    October 9, 2018 - 10:29PM

The Forester didn't fail anyone. The reviewer has failed the readers by failing to think rationally.

Power costs money.

The Forester is the entry level SUV in a line of of vehicles. The new version is a more polished version but has the same capability as the former year middle at a similarly affordable price. Making a stronger chassis with a bigger engine would make the entry level model less affordable for those who need one.

If you want a more powerful vehicle, don't berate a vehicle whose maker has resisted the antiquated "grow it bigger, people will pay for it" philosophy that was outdated in the 1960's.

Buy a more powerful vehicle.

Mariano (not verified)    March 6, 2022 - 1:12AM

In reply to by Pssst3` (not verified)

Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual effort to
create a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don't
seem to get nearly anything done. dimagrimento

Brian (not verified)    October 10, 2018 - 8:32AM

I have a camper. It weighs 12,000 pounds. I have a real truck to pull it. I didn't buy the Forester to haul a heavy trailer or camper. Great job of building a tempest in a teapot. The Forester is a great vehicle. It serves my needs very well. Had I needed a heavier truck, I would have bought one. As for the competition or other models having higher weight ratings, I wouldn't want to push that too far, I think you might be disappointed in real world performance. If not, buy something you like better. I'm gonna keep my Forester.

Rob Blazoff (not verified)    October 10, 2018 - 10:55AM

The average Forester owner is likely going to put a kayak on the roof rack or a couple of bikes on the back to get their outdoor fix. They can get where they need to with reasonable gas mileage.

Rob Blazoff (not verified)    October 10, 2018 - 11:00AM

Forester owners are likely to put a kayak on the roof rack or a couple bikes on a hitch carrier, not pull a trailered power boat. They bought the crossover because it takes them to their outdoor spot with reasonable gas mileage.

J schroeder (not verified)    October 10, 2018 - 2:41PM

Love my 2011 for almost anything, except for the towing restriction. Nowadays you can get small camping trailers that you can pull but add camping equiptment and a person or two and you are over the limit. Not exactly a priority on Subaru's part.

Bill Egan (not verified)    October 17, 2018 - 7:48PM

No new forester for me.
I will keep my 2013 XT Model . Untill forester is rejuvernated with more power and towing capacity Why not start wih WRX Engine inserted..
He its not rocket science!
Long time Subaru buyer regretably will have to explore other brands.
Wake up Subaru, What about STI VERSION.

Mike Broderick (not verified)    January 15, 2020 - 3:59PM

Then why does the 2.5L Outback with similar engine/tranny ratings (HP/torque/etc) get rated at 2700lbs??? What else is different?

James Herrera (not verified)    June 16, 2020 - 4:08PM

I believe the difference in towing capacity is the gear range. Outback has 6 preset gear ranges and the Forester only has 2. Am I correct?

Mike Broderick (not verified)    June 17, 2020 - 7:59AM

Gear ranges? They are CVTs (continuous-variable, no gears). I believe they do program in/retard the adjustments when upshifting to give you that gear "shifting feel" as people found the smooth acceleration to strange. And some are "shiftable" so the driver can control the shifting. But that should not impact towing ability?

Randall Washington (not verified)    September 12, 2020 - 11:41PM

I'm shopping for a new Forester. But, I own a 2010 Forester that can tow 2,400 pounds!

I'm baffled as to why the current Forester with more power and torque has such limited towing capacity. Could it be a limitation of the transmission design?

I plan to stay on the sidelines until Subaru fixes this issue!

Keith (not verified)    November 8, 2020 - 9:17PM

I just purchased a new 2021 Forester. I figured it would pull my small Aluma motorcycle trailer with a Victory Kingpin, this possible? I also have Goldwing but it's 900# may push the envelope?
Any comment's to help my psyche? ?