Towing with a Subaru: Discover Which Models Can Flat Tow and How to Do It Safely

If you’re in the market for a well-rounded car for your outdoor adventures, Subaru is a brand that’s hard to ignore. Subaru cars are known for their reliable all-wheel-drive system, spacious interiors, and impressive off-road capabilities. But what if you want to tow your Subaru behind your RV or other tow vehicle? Can you flat tow a Subaru? In this article, we’ll answer this question and provide you with all the necessary information you need to know about flat towing a Subaru car.

What is Flat Towing?

First, let’s explain what flat towing is. Flat towing, also known as dinghy towing or four-down towing, is a method of towing a car behind another vehicle with all four wheels on the ground. This method is different from other types of towing where the towed vehicle’s wheels are lifted off the ground, such as using a tow dolly or a flatbed trailer. Flat towing is a popular method for RVers and outdoor enthusiasts who want to bring their car with them on their travels but don’t want to tow a trailer.

Which Subaru Models Can Be Flat Towed?

Now, you might be wondering which Subaru models can be flat towed. The good news is that some Subaru models are suitable for flat towing, but not all of them. According to the Subaru Owner’s Manual, the following models can be flat towed with all four wheels on the ground:

  • 2019-2022 Ascent*
  • 2014-2022 Forester
  • 2015-2022 Legacy
  • 2015-2022 Outback
  • 2015-2016 WRX
  • 2015-2022 WRX STI
  • 2013-2017 Crosstrek models with manual transmission only**
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*Note that the 2022 Ascent with the Onyx Edition trim cannot be flat towed.

**If your Crosstrek has a CVT automatic transmission, it cannot be flat towed.

It’s essential to keep in mind that only these specific Subaru models and only certain model years are listed as flat-towable by Subaru. Attempting to flat tow a non-approved Subaru model or model year can cause significant damage to the car’s transmission or drivetrain.

What Modifications or Preparations are Needed?

If you have the right Subaru model that can be flat towed, you still need to make some modifications and take some precautions to ensure a safe and hassle-free towing experience. Here are some essential tips to follow:

  • Consult the Subaru Owner’s Manual and follow the flat-towing instructions carefully. Each Subaru model might have different instructions or requirements, so make sure you read and understand them before towing.
  • Use the right equipment, such as a baseplate, tow bar, and safety cables that are compatible with your Subaru and tow vehicle.
  • Make sure you disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent any electrical draw from the Subaru while towing. You can also install a battery disconnect switch to make disconnecting the battery easier.
  • Shift the Subaru’s transmission into neutral and engage the parking brake before towing.
  • Check the Subaru’s tire pressure, brakes, and all fluid levels before towing. Make any necessary repairs or adjustments before hitting the road.

What Are Some Potential Risks or Precautions to Take?

While flat towing is a convenient and easy way to tow your Subaru, there are some potential risks and precautions to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable towing experience. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not exceed the maximum towing speed or distance recommended by Subaru. The recommended maximum towing speed is 65 mph for all Subaru models.
  • Make sure your tow vehicle is powerful enough to tow your Subaru, and the combined weight of both vehicles doesn’t exceed the tow rating of your tow vehicle.
  • Avoid sharp turns, sudden stops, and excessive acceleration while towing your Subaru.
  • Periodically check your Subaru’s wheels and tires while towing, especially during long-distance trips.
  • Be aware of your state and local towing laws and regulations, as they might require additional safety equipment or precautions.
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Can I tow a Subaru with an automatic transmission?

Only certain Subaru models with manual transmission can be flat towed. If your Subaru has an automatic transmission, it cannot be flat towed.

Can I use a tow dolly to tow my Subaru instead?

Yes, you can use a tow dolly or a flatbed trailer to tow your Subaru if it cannot be flat towed. However, keep in mind that using a tow dolly or trailer can add extra weight, cost, and complexity to your towing setup.

What is the towing capacity of a Subaru?

The towing capacity of a Subaru varies depending on the model and year. Typically, Subaru cars have a towing capacity ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 pounds. You can consult the Subaru Owner’s Manual or the manufacturer’s website for more specific information about your Subaru model’s towing capacity.


In conclusion, some Subaru models can be flat towed, but not all of them. If you’re thinking about flat towing your Subaru, make sure you have the right Subaru model, equipment, and modifications before hitting the road. Always follow the Subaru Owner’s Manual and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and hassle-free towing experience. By doing so, you can enjoy all the benefits of towing your car behind your RV or other tow vehicle without having to sacrifice your beloved Subaru.

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Joseph Weaver

With a background in engineering and a passion for cars, Joseph brings a unique perspective to our blog. He's particularly interested in the technology and innovation behind Subaru's advanced safety features, and his articles on this topic are always insightful and informative. When he's not writing, he enjoys playing video games and spending time with his family.

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