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Discussion Starter #1
The forester is rated for 1500 lbs and the 2.5i Outback is rated at 2700 lbs. If the CVT is the same for Forester and outback, it would seem that the hand wringing about towing with the CVT Forester is overdone.

Does anyone out there know, definitively, if the 2.5i forester and Outback use the same CVT?

Also interesting is that the 3.6 version of the outback only adds 11% to the towing capacity whilst having about 65% more torque. So far, it looks like other factors than power and driveline are limiting forester towing capacity.

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Discussion Starter #3
Geo,

Obviously, longer wheel base and a bit more weight and five more horsepower for the 2.5 in the Outback. (another example of Subaru excentricity) This, however, does not seem to account for the additional 1200 pounds of towing capacity. Neither is it a matter of a different market. So, I dig.

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I'm back after digging through J2807. First, I'm not going to pay $74 to download the J2807 pdf. Second, it seems that the standard is for trucks and not passenger cars. So, the only variables that would explain an 80% increase in towing capacity from the Forester to the Outback are type of CVT, cooling capacity, vehicle weight and wheel base. The roughly 3% increase in horsepower is negligible. BTW, I think the towing limit for the 2.0 Crosstrek is also 1500 lbs. Go figure!

The ringer here might be the OEM Forester hitch which is of lower capacity than any aftermarket third party hitches that I know of. This translates to product liability. So, my conclusion so far is that the North American towing limits have little or nothing to do with J2807.

Meanwhile, I'll dig into CVT and cooling capacity differences as time allows.

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What about this:

It's harder to pin down the crossovers, minivans and cars, though. SAE J2807 test procedures apply to all of them, but these vehicles were never embroiled in the same sort of towing arms race that gripped the pickup and full-size SUV segments. Their ratings were never pushed to the absolute limit, so it's hard to imagine them changing much even when they do get rated according to the new procedure.
- Standardized Tow Rating Procedure Finally Gaining Traction | Edmunds.com

Maybe contact Subaru to try finding out if they use SAE j2807 standards for their tow ratings?

The argument of the hitch does not make sense to me. The hitch equipped is due to the tow ratings, not the other way around. Subaru has stronger hitches, which are used in other markets. There would be no reason to limit your tow rating by selling the vehicle with a lower end hitch. What is the downside of having a higher tow rating? None. By that logic, Subaru could equip tires with a lower speed rating and then limit the vehicle top speed to match the tires.

I have attached the main mechanical specs for the non-turbo CVT (TR580) transmission. Try to get someone on the Outback forum to provide you with the same information from their service manual. If there are any differences, it may lead to some discovery. (These are the first 2 pages of the "general discription" section of the TR580 portion)
 

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The forester is rated for 1500 lbs and the 2.5i Outback is rated at 2700 lbs. If the CVT is the same for Forester and outback, it would seem that the hand wringing about towing with the CVT Forester is overdone.

Does anyone out there know, definitively, if the 2.5i forester and Outback use the same CVT?

Also interesting is that the 3.6 version of the outback only adds 11% to the towing capacity whilst having about 65% more torque. So far, it looks like other factors than power and driveline are limiting forester towing capacity.

GD
Even with all else, i.e. powertrain & suspension being equal (I'm not saying they are), towing capacity & especially the permissible tongue weight are affected by the vehicle weight & geometry as well, as it is calculated to ensure that under dynamic loading the traction of the front wheels of the car is not compromised by the force applied behind rear axle that is attempting to lift the front wheels off the ground.
Longer wheel base & more weight in front will definitely affect the rated towing capacity.

"The tongue weight of a trailer on the hitch ball turns the rear of a vehicle into a lever arm that lightens the front of the vehicle causing steering traction and control problems. This issue is very dangerous because of the sluggishness of the steering that aggravates trailer and vehicle sway."
https://www.airliftcompany.com/workshop/primer-vehicle-weight-ratings/

" Excessive weight on the tow ball will lift the front of the tow vehicle reducing its ability to steer and control the vehicle."
http://www.trailersauce.com/information/trailer-towing-problems/

Forester Base curb weight (manual/automatic) 3,322 lbs/3,395 lbs
Wheelbase 103.9 inches

Outback Base curb weight 3,580 lbs.
Wheelbase 108.1 inches

Difference in towing speed limits between different countries will translate into different rated towing capacity as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
But wait, there's more! The hitch ball to rear axle distance also affects the "lift" effect on the front wheels. The more we look into it the more complicateder it gets.

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To me, the tongue weight factor is an indicator. The chassis rigidity is not there to both support tongue weight, nor tow a load higher than that which it is "rated" for. Additionally, I don't see it as a Transmission, or driveline related, as the XT Turbo has the same ratings, as does the M/T in the base model. This tells me, it's primarily in the chassis limitations.

Granted, our Foresters have a different tow rating in other sections of this planet.
 

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But wait, there's more! The hitch ball to rear axle distance also affects the "lift" effect on the front wheels. The more we look into it the more complicateder it gets.

GD
That is correct.
I'm just about to delete or edit my post about that since I'm not able to locate the reference (I was stating that based on my recollection of something I've read about a year & a half ago) to support my post.

Please share, if you have found any supporting information to that effect.
 

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Finally, the reason why the towing capacity of the 3.6R is not that much higher, is due to the CVT transmission. If you look at the older (2010 to 2012 or 13) 3.6R's that have the 5EAT automatic transmission, the towing capacity is higher than the 3.6R with the CVT.
The introduction of the CVT with the 3.6R came at the same time as the redesign, so you can't definitively say the CVT is the limiting factor.

The redesigned chassis could be to blame.
 

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an entire thread about differences in tow ratings and not a single mention of brake sizes...



If you'd look closely, the Outback 2.5i has larger brakes than all of the Forester models. Therefore it is mechanically capable of safely stopping more weight than the Foresters.

For 2017, the Forester 2.5i has 294x24mm front brakes and 274x10mm rear brakes. The 2.0XT model then jumps to having 316x30mm front brakes and 278x18mm rears. The Outback 2.5i and 3.6R then come to play with the same 316x30mm front brakes as the 2.0XT Forester, but then 300x17mm rear brakes...
 

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The introduction of the CVT with the 3.6R came at the same time as the redesign, so you can't definitively say the CVT is the limiting factor.

The redesigned chassis could be to blame.
Yep, and actually I need to correct myself. The 3.6R, from 2010 all the way to 2016 is rated at 3,000 lbs (with trailer brakes). Then in 2017, the rating for the 3.6R was dropped to 2,700 lbs (with trailer brakes; same as the 2.5). My source is cars101.

Anyway, something else that I don't think that anyone has mentioned is the fact that the 14+ Forester 2.5's do not have paddle shifters, whereas the Outbacks still have paddle shifters - and transmission control is extremely helpful when it comes to towing.

Cars101 rants about it here (2016 Subaru Forester research webpage) :
On Towing a trailer with the 2016, 2015, 2014 Forester.
The 2014 and 2015 is rated to tow up to 1500 pounds. And even that would be a lot to tow behind the a 2.5L model because they have no transmission control or Paddle Shifters. Previous Foresters (2013, 2012, 2011 etc) were rated at 2400 pounds.
The 2.0XT turbo model would be a better choice with its paddle shifters, though the turbo engine would be boosted most of the time when towing which isn't particularly desirable.
The lack of paddle shifters on the 2.5s of course means the Forester is a not a good choice for anything other than infrequent, light towing. People who tow, know that transmission control is key to their safety and vehicle performance - whether slowing on a downgrade, pulling up a hill, or pulling a boat up a steep ramp for example. In a side wind or bumpy road with the trailer swaying, the experienced tower doesn't want to just hit the brakes, instead they know to gradually downshift to maintain stability and safely control the trailer and vehicle. The computer managed Low mode is the only choice the driver has other than Drive, and Low mode simply doesn't give the driver any transmission choices.
 

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Anyway, something else that I don't think that anyone has mentioned is the fact that the 14+ Forester 2.5's do not have paddle shifters, whereas the Outbacks still have paddle shifters - and transmission control is extremely helpful when it comes to towing.
XT models have paddle shifters, yet the tow rating remains the same. Also, Canadian models have paddle shifters on all trim levels, yet their tow ratings are still the same as ours.

I agree they are important for towing, but they aren't influencing the lower tow ratings.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Paddle shifters & tow rating

Yep, and actually I need to correct myself. The 3.6R, from 2010 all the way to 2016 is rated at 3,000 lbs (with trailer brakes). Then in 2017, the rating for the 3.6R was dropped to 2,700 lbs (with trailer brakes; same as the 2.5). My source is cars101.

Anyway, something else that I don't think that anyone has mentioned is the fact that the 14+ Forester 2.5's do not have paddle shifters, whereas the Outbacks still have paddle shifters - and transmission control is extremely helpful when it comes to towing.

Cars101 rants about it here (2016 Subaru Forester research webpage) :
OK, The XT has paddle shifters AND bigger brakes but the same tow rating as the 2.5i.

Seems like every time there is a logical explanation for tow rating differences there is cofounding evidence to the contrary.

My conclusion is that I will be towing close to around approximately the maximum rated capacity, more or less, and will not be too concerned about it.

Also interesting is that the engine coolant will tend to keep the CVT oil at about 220ºF . But that's another discussion!

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Also interesting is that the engine coolant will tend to keep the CVT oil at about 220ºF . But that's another discussion!
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I've been researching CVT matters lately since an XT is going to be my next car, and people are reporting CVT temps that are all over the place. Some people say it barely gets above 170 in mild temps, whereas some claim they can get the warning temp light (257*) to come on shortly after beginning off roading in hot weather.
 

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Some people say it barely gets above 170 in mild temps, whereas some claim they can get the warning temp light (257*) to come on shortly after beginning off roading in hot weather.
I have been offroading in Texas and Oklahoma in August with 100 degree temperatures all day. Never have seen my CVT temperature light come on.
 

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I have been offroading in Texas and Oklahoma in August with 100 degree temperatures all day. Never have seen my CVT temperature light come on.
That's exactly what I mean, CVT temps seem to vary quite a bit based on how they're used, temp, and other factors. I popped over to the Outback forums and there is a guy there who has his light come on 4-6 times per off road session. He is doing some pretty long climbs though, which would explain it (low speed, high load, torque converter unlocked=heat).

Nasioc just seems to have a lot of people getting their warning lights on during "spirited" driving, and during track use.

Despite this overheating, that Outback owner had no issues at all. Subaru clearly did their homework on the CVT, but there are a lot of unknowns still. The Outback forum has some good info though, they have multiple people with trans coolers added, towing over the limit (don't recommend this), and folks who log their CVT temps.

The Nasioc guys seem to have popped a few units going stage 2 and having launch control enabled tunes....no surprises there.

@GeoJosh have you ever used an OBD app such as Active OBD or Torque to take a look at your CVT temps during off roading sessions? I would love to see those numbers, and it would help expand our knowledge of the CVT.
 
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