Unlocking the Full Towing Potential of Your 2008-2018 Subaru Forester: A Practical Guide

If you’re in the market for a vehicle that can tow, you may already know that towing capabilities and important factors to consider when purchasing a car. Towing equipment and capacity are an essential consideration for individuals living in extreme weather conditions or who dabble in outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, or boating. One of the cars that you may want to consider, therefore, is the Subaru Forester, a crossover SUV that is renowned for its practicality, spaciousness, and durability.

In this guide, we will be discussing everything you need to know about the towing potential of the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester. We will also explore essential safety considerations when towing with a Subaru Forester and provide tips on selecting the right towing equipment.

Understanding Towing Capacity

Towing capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight that a car can lug along. The towing capacity varies from car to car, and it largely depends on the car’s weight, powertrain, drivetrain, and structural support.

In the case of the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester, the vehicle has a towing capacity between 1,500 pounds to 1,500 pounds, depending on the model, trim, and engine. This means that the Forester can comfortably tow a small trailer with a light payload, such as a small boat, jet ski, or camping gear.

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Towing Capacity of the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester

The towing capacity of the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester varies based on the model, trim, and engine. The table below highlights the towing capacity of different models of the Forester:

Year Trim Engine Towing Capacity
2008-2013 2.5 X 2.5-liter H4 2,400 pounds
2008-2013 2.5 X Premium 2.5-liter H4 2,400 pounds
2009-2013 2.5 X Limited 2.5-liter H4 2,400 pounds
2011-2013 2.5 XT Premium 2.5-liter turbocharged H4 2,500 pounds
2011-2013 2.5 XT Touring 2.5-liter turbocharged H4 2,500 pounds
2014-2018 2.5i 2.5-liter H4 1,500 pounds
2014-2018 2.5i Premium 2.5-liter H4 1,500 pounds
2014-2018 2.5i Limited 2.5-liter H4 1,500 pounds
2014-2018 2.0XT Premium 2.0-liter turbocharged H4 1,500 pounds
2014-2018 2.0XT Touring 2.0-liter turbocharged H4 1,500 pounds

Factors Affecting Towing Capacity

Several factors can influence the towing capacity, including the car’s engine type, drivetrain, accessories, and payload capacity. In the case of the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester, the towing capacity varies with these factors:

  • Engine: Foresters with turbocharged engines have a higher towing capacity than those with standard engines.
  • Drivetrain: The towing capacity of all Forester models with all-wheel drive is higher.
  • Trim: The higher the trim level, the higher the towing capacity.
  • Accessories: Towing accessories like hitch, ball, and wiring harness can affect the towing capacity.
  • Payload Capacity: The amount of weight you plan to carry in the car can reduce the towing capacity.

With these factors in mind, it’s crucial to consider your towing needs and choose a 2008-2018 Subaru Forester that is best for you.

Safety Considerations when Towing with a Subaru Forester

Safety should always be a significant consideration when towing. To ensure the safe towing with your Subaru Forester, consider the following:

  • Towing weight limit: Don’t exceed the weight limit set for your Forester. This weight limit varies and can be found either on the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
  • Stability: Ensure your trailer is adequately secured to the hitch and the hitch is correctly installed to your Forester.
  • Braking: Have a suitable braking system installed in the trailer to ensure the trailer does not force your car to stop too fast, especially during an emergency stop.
  • Visibility: Use extended mirrors and avoid blocking the taillights and license plate of your Forester and trailer.
  • Gear Shifting: Use lower gears when going downhill as this enhances control.
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With these safety considerations in mind, you can tow in your Forester with confidence.

Tips for Selecting the Right Towing Equipment

To tow effectively with your Forester, you will need special towing equipment, such as a hitch, trailer brake controller, and towing ball-and-mount. Here are some tips to consider when choosing the right towing equipment:

  • Hitch Class: Choose a hitch that can handle the maximum weight limit of your car, and trailer hitch receiver must align with the Forester’s towing capacity.
  • Electrical System: Ensure that all the electrical systems are operating correctly, and the electrical converter matches the Forester’s electrical system.
  • Braking System: Install an electric brake controller that matches your trailer’s braking system.
  • Tow Hooks: Tow hooks help keep your Forester and the trailer in line and can ensure smooth maneuvers.

Comparing the Tow Capacity of the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester with Other Vehicles

When comparing the Subaru Forester with other comparable vehicles, such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape, the Forester has an average towing capacity. The Forester is comparable to the RAV4 but falls slightly below the Ford Escape. However, It’s essential to note that the towing capability of any car can vary depending on the model, trim, accessories, weight, and installation.

Cost Implications of Higher Towing Capacity

A higher towing capacity usually results in a cost increase. However, the price variation between a Forester with towing capacity and one without is negligible. It’s essential to factor in the cost of towing equipment and gear when calculating your budget.


1. What other cars can I consider if I need a vehicle with similar towing capacity to the Forester?

Other vehicles with similar towing capacity to the Subaru Forester include the Toyota RAV4, Acura RDX, and Mazda CX-5.

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2. Can I add a towing package to my Forester after purchase?

Yes. Most dealerships have a towing package that can be added to your Forester. You can also have an aftermarket hitch installed on your car.

3. Can I exceed the towing capacity of my Forester by purchasing additional equipment like a stronger hitch and bigger brake pads?

No, exceeding the tow limit of your Forester is unsafe and can lead to accidents. Always follow the manufacturer’s towing guidelines and do not exceed the recommended weight.

In conclusion, the 2008-2018 Subaru Forester is a versatile car that is ideal for towing light payload trailers. The car’s towing capacity varies based on factors such as engine type, drivetrain, trim, accessories, and payload capacity. Safety considerations such as stability, visibility, and braking are essential when towing with a Forester. Select the right towing equipment, including a hitch, trailer brake controller, and ball-and-mount, to enhance your towing experience in your Forester.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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