I just towed a packed Uhaul 5x8 trailer 1100 miles, Tucson to Houston, and I figured I would write a bit about my experience for others considering a tow that might be interested.
2001 Subaru Forester L. Automatic. Freshly flushed transmission and differential fluid check(changed not too long ago). Brakes need to be changed probably. Tires freshly rotated and checked for issues(just did the free valve stem replacement at discount tire).
I got the hidden hitch package deal from hitchmart. It seemed to be the best deal and had free shipping. The instal was a bit tough. It helped to have jack stands to support the hitch while I wiggle it into place. It was very difficult to get the bolts to go back in. It helped a bit when I realized the bumper had shifted a bit or somethi9ng, so I pushed it outward and that helped some. It was very difficult to get the bolts started. One bolt either got stripped in the process or was just very sticky, I ended up adding a wasker in order to tighten it down. I used the old bolts rather than the ones that came with the hitch. Hooking up the electrical was easy, although I lost the rubber stopper for the hole in the trunk. I made a new one out of foam and duct tape.
I rented the 5x8 enclosed trailer from Uhaul. It is like 4'10" wide, 5'2" tall, and 7'10" long, inside dimensions(inside the rubber wall bumpers). It had very good tires and was in good condition. I packed it to capacity. Mostly boxes, several heavy. I think I was possibly at or near the max load limit. I think I was at least very close to it, not sure. I would just guess 2000lbs, but either way, suffice it to say... it was PACKED! I tried to pull it off the vehicle after it was packed, but couldn't. SO I don't know exactly what the tongue weight was, but with the shocks of the subi pushing up, it was relatively easy to pull the tongue up and down. The back suspension of the car was compressed quite a bit... at least to 50% what it normally is, probably a little more than that.
The going was slow for the most part, depending on how much gas I was willing to burn. On the flat straight parts I hit 90mph several times, mostly trying to stay around 70mph. On the uphill parts, I could go 60mph, but that was way too high RPM's, sometimes 5000, but could do 40mph at 3000rpm's. Gas mileage suffered from 20-50% depending on how hard I pushed it. Handling was excellent, but took some time to get used to.
For several hundred miles, I had the pedal to the floor almost, cruising at 75-ish and 4500+rpm's. This seems to have gotten me down to 12mpg
After this, I decided to go a little lighter and mileage went back close to normal, when I decided to stay around 3400 and below rpm's, staying around 60mph and just above. I still think I was down 20% or so in gas mileage.
I hit some hard rain and had to pull over once, but was blessed with clear skies and only the occasional sprinkle most of the time. The biggest thing, was that I had to get used to the feel of pulling a trailer. I have pulled trailers many times before, but never with this vehicle and not in a while. Once I got used to the feel, I realized the handling was excellent. I noticed the trailer kind of waving side to side a bit when looking in the side mirrors. This freaked me out a bit at first, and usually just slowed down a bit, but it didn't cause any problems. My guess is that minor side to side swaying is okay, maybe within a few inches is fine, not sure. Just be sure to give youself a bit extra stopping time. Accelleration was a bit slow at times, but I got used to it. Now my car drives like a rocket(it felt like that after getting rid of the load)!
All in all, the tow was a complete success and I am very confident with the forester's towing ability. I look forward to towing something for recreational purposes!
Hope you find this an interesting read and a confidence booster for those cosidering towing.