If you’re preparing to use your Subaru Outback for pulling a trailer, one of the first investments that you need to make is a trailer hitch.
However, if you’ve never purchased a trailer hitch before, you’ll quickly realize that there are several options that you can choose from.
Not every trailer hitch works for every application. It’s important that you know which kinds work for your particular vehicle and what each is used for.
While they are not expensive, the right hitch will protect your car and your trailer. I’ve compiled some helpful information about the types of the trailer hitches that are available, how they work with your Subaru Outback, and the benefits of each when you’re pulling a trailer.
What size of trailer hitches fit a Subaru Outback?
There are a few different types of trailer hitches that you’ll find when you are considering one for your Subaru Outback. Knowing which one fits your vehicle will ensure that when you are pulling your trailer, your car is protected.
Light-duty or class 1 receiver hitches
Light-duty receiver hitches match their name. They’re made to accommodate light loads, and typically their maximum gross weight will be less than 2,000 pounds.
In general, the light duty receiver hitch is best for compact or midsize cars, or even compact SUVs or crossovers like the Subaru Crosstrek.
Typical light-duty receiver hitches accept a 1 ¼” square receiver and have a maximum tongue weight of 200 lbs. Light-duty hitch receivers are often added to a vehicle for temporary use and can easily be removed.
Light-duty receiver hitches will support things like bike racks and cargo carriers. They can also handle small utility trailers or small enclosed trailers.
Regular-duty or class 2 receiver hitches
Most vehicles that are capable of towing come with or will accept a regular duty or class 2 receiver hitch. These hitches are capable of handling larger loads and are the most commonly used when towing a small camper or utility trailer.
Regular-duty trailer hitch receivers can tow up to 3,500 pounds and have a maximum tongue weight of 350 pounds. When installing a regular-duty trailer hitch, the installer or car manufacturer will bolt the receiver to the frame of the vehicle for greater support.
Most regular duty receivers will accept a 1 ¼” square hitch.
Vehicles that will be compatible with a regular-duty trailer hitch include midsize cars and SUVs, small pick-up trucks, and some minivans. These vehicles have regular duty transmission coolers that can manage the added weight without modification.
Heavy-duty or class 3 receiver hitches
Heavy-duty hitch receivers are also attached to the frame of the vehicle, and you’ll often hear of them referred to as an ‘under-car’ receiver hitch.
As their name suggests, heavy-duty receivers are made for towing heavy loads, and are usually installed in larger vehicles, with more powerful engines and transmissions.
Heavy-duty trailer hitches are made to handle towing weights of up to 7,500 pounds with a maximum tongue weight of 750 pounds. Heavy-duty trailer hitch receivers accept 2” square hitches.
While you can install a heavy-duty hitch on a full-size car, they’re most commonly found as standard features on full-size pick-up trucks or full-size SUVs and vans.
When it comes to installing a trailer hitch on your Subaru Outback, you’re likely going to want a light-duty or regular-duty hitch receiver. As your Outback has a towing capacity of less than 3,000 pounds, you protect your car and your trailer by sticking with these two options.
How long does it take to install a trailer hitch on a Subaru Outback?
It doesn’t take a long time to install a trailer hitch receiver. Most Subaru dealers will be able to install a hitch receiver on your Subaru Outback and can recommend the best option for your vehicle.
You can expect installation of a trailer hitch receiver on your Outback to take no more than a couple of hours, depending on the type of hitch receiver being installed.
We like to use the dealership for these sorts of installations since they’ll often warranty their work and will fix any problems often with no additional charge. If you don’t want to use a Subaru dealer, you can also visit your local U-Haul dealer. They install trailer hitch receivers on all makes and models of cars and may be able to do the work at a lower price.
Do you need a wiring kit for Subaru Outback trailer hitches?
If you’re going to be using your trailer hitch for towing a trailer of any sort, you’ll need to have your vehicle properly wired for lighting. Wiring kits tie your trailer to the electrical system of the car, so that your trailer has operational brake lights, tail-lights and turn signals.
Some Outback models come with lighting and towing packages already installed. However, if your particular Subaru Outback doesn’t come with a towing package or pre-installed lighting harness, you’ll need to have your mechanic include a wiring kit during the installation of your trailer hitch receiver.
Most common wiring configurations are the 4-way or 7-way connectors. Both will provide you with turn signals, tail-lights and brake lights. The 7-way connector adds 12-volt power and a circuit for trailer brakes. Most likely you’ll have a 4-way wiring kit added to your Subaru Outback.
How much does a hitch for a Subaru Outback cost?
If you’re going out and purchasing a hitch for your Subaru Outback, you should do a little research on prices, because there’s a bit of a range of cost depending on whether you are adding a light-duty or regular duty receiver.
And there’s always a difference in price if you’re buying from the dealership or if you use another source like your local U-Haul dealer.
However, in general, you can expect to pay between $150 and $250 for a standard, basic trailer receiver hitch.
How much does it cost to have a hitch installed on a Subaru Outback?
Installation costs for a trailer hitch receiver seems to be one of the most variable costs when you’re adding one to your Subaru Outback. It’s definitely work that you want to have done by a professional, so that it’s done correctly and doesn’t damage your vehicle.
Depending on who you use, and where you are located, you can expect to pay anywhere from $90 to as much as $700. This cost really depends on the type of hitch you are having installed, and if you also need to have a wiring kit installed with your hitch.
The Subaru Outback is one of the more versatile and powerful SUVs on the market. Despite its car-like appearance, the Outback wagon is a great vehicle for towing everything from a small utility trailer to your family pop-up camper.
Some Outback models come with an optional towing package installed, but if your Subaru Outback doesn’t have a trailer hitch, it’s a simple and inexpensive addition to your vehicle.