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Hi,

I am thinking of buying an Ascent. I currently have a Forrester and with grandchildren (and child car seats!!!) and getting a larger trailer, the Forrester is not up to the task. Can this Ascent really pull a 4000 pound trailer/boat with it only being a 4 cylinder turbo charged engine? People are telling me to get the 6 cylinder Toyota Highlander. Any advice from those who own an Ascent and truly have some miles travelled pulling a trailer.

Bairdski
 

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Hi,

I am thinking of buying an Ascent. I currently have a Forrester and with grandchildren (and child car seats!!!) and getting a larger trailer, the Forrester is not up to the task. Can this Ascent really pull a 4000 pound trailer/boat with it only being a 4 cylinder turbo charged engine? People are telling me to get the 6 cylinder Toyota Highlander. Any advice from those who own an Ascent and truly have some miles travelled pulling a trailer.

Bairdski
I haven’t towed with an Ascent but a turbo/boosted 4 can easily keep up with a V6, and have more low end torque. Peak torque for the Ascent comes at 277 ft/lbs at a low 2000 rpm IIRC, vs the Highlander 263 @ 4700 rpm
 

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I'm pulling a 2000# boat & trailer combo and have 4000 miles (mostly towing) on my Touring. I have no issues at all, vehicle has plenty of power, is stable, and I really like it. My wife's 2015 Legacy has the 6 and, just based on feel, I would say that the Touring has faster acceleration.
 

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I remember when people would ask can you really tow a trailer with a six-cylinder engine rather than an eight. Engine design has come a long way. I have a Sea-Doo with a three-cylinder supercharged engine that produces 300 HP. The Ascent may only have four cylinders but it's rated at 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. That's better than many prior six-cylinder engines. You need to remember that the engine is turbocharged.

So, to answer your question, of course the Ascent can pull a 4000-pound trailer. It's rated to pull a 5000-pound trailer. Manufacturers would be foolish to falsely overstate a tow rating. They certainly don't want to have to pay for thousands of new engines/transmissions under warranty because they didn't rate the towing capacity carefully. If anything, manufacturers are conservative with their towing capacities. I pulled a 3200-pound boat for years with my 2010 Forester that was rated for only 2400 pounds. I still own the car and it's running like it was new. Would I recommend this? No, of course not, but it worked.

With any engine/transmission, if you do pull a heavy load regularly, you need to follow the severe engine maintenance schedule. If you stay at or below the tow rating and do not abuse the vehicle by driving it too hard when pulling a load, you should be fine. I intend to tow a 4000 pound (fully loaded) travel trailer across the country with mine.
 

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It is always interesting to me how hung up people get on this subject regarding the number of cylinders. Power ratings would be more appropriate, but also, other factors like brakes and suspension and transmission and such are equally important. Of course you need enough power to pull a load, but without the other factors, it means little. My motorcycle has more power than some cars, but pulling a camper down the road with it would be...problematic to say the least. Manufacturers, as stated previously, would be asking for trouble if they over rated the tow rating on their vehicles.
 

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Make sure you pay attention to the tongue weight. If the tongue weight is too high you may need a weight distribution hitch.

Also consider the conditions under which you are going to tow. If you’re going to encounter significant crosswinds the Ascent may not be the best vehicle to tow with. I’ve seen many travel trailers towed by bigger suvs that are not stable. In certain conditions you can have the tail wagging the dog. Just remember that while Subaru rates the Ascent as capable of towing 5K lbs, it is not the ideal tow vehicle and certain precautions must be taken.
 

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No, don't listen to your people. No way can you tow with 4 or 6 cylinders. You need at least 8 cylinders.


Old habits and stereotypes die hard.
 

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Make sure you pay attention to the tongue weight. If the tongue weight is too high you may need a weight distribution hitch.
Just to clarify for those considering buying an Ascent for towing, as I did, or for current owners who are unaware, Subaru specifically states not to use a weight distribution hitch.
 

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Search the forums. You'll find me towing more than 4,000 pounds, and @Kevin Williams towing just shy of 5,000 pounds.

Neither of us had any problems, and I can assure you that when Subaru claimed that the Ascent could tow 5,000 pounds and STILL hit 0-60 as fast as an Outback 2.5i that's NOT towing anything, they were telling the truth.
 

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I used to tow a pop-up camper and the limiting factor ended up being if I could lift the tongue on to the hitch (I am strong for a girl and can lift 100 pounds or so). There were many times where we had to climb back inside the pop-up to move the cooler to behind the trailer axle to lighten up the tongue, sometimes with hilarious results when the tongue weight went negative and the front popped up in the air.

The scary thing is when the trailer brakes did not work and the trailer was pushing the car around when coming down off of a mountain, I could feel the rear end trying to spin me around. I will never try Tejon pass without working trailer brakes again.
 

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Just to clarify for those considering buying an Ascent for towing, as I did, or for current owners who are unaware, Subaru specifically states not to use a weight distribution hitch.
My apologies. I don't want to provide erroneous information. My post was based on my experience towing our 12k lb fifth wheel with our F450 dually. I did not order the Ascent with the tow package since my truck has both a fifth wheel hitch on the bed and a frame mounted tow hitch in the rear.

I still maintain that one has to be cautious when towing any trailer on the heavier side since the Ascent only weighs 4500 lbs. Just use common sense and be aware of weather and road conditions.

You don't want to end up like this guy....

 

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The Ascent uses two subframes and a unibody. A weight distributing hitch should never be used, nor a sway control hitch. It puts an inordinate amount of stress on the subframe to unibody connections. Also, the rear is rated higher for the extra weight, while the front is not. Keep in mind that the factory hitch also has sub frame reinforcements to put the weight where the engineers thought best.

The Ascent has an amazing sway response system, which I got to test first hand with the Heartland Edge on a windy day.

It actually felt more stable than the Ascent not towing on a windy day (the system does not activate when not towing).


Just to clarify for those considering buying an Ascent for towing, as I did, or for current owners who are unaware, Subaru specifically states not to use a weight distribution hitch.
My apologies. I don't want to provide erroneous information. My post was based on my experience towing our 12k lb fifth wheel with our F450 dually. I did not order the Ascent with the tow package since my truck has both a fifth wheel hitch on the bed and a frame mounted tow hitch in the rear.

I still maintain that one has to be cautious when towing any trailer on the heavier side since the Ascent only weighs 4500 lbs. Just use common sense and be aware of weather and road conditions.

You don't want to end up like this guy....

 

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To answer my own question?



"WDHs come with their own problems. In particular, the enormous loads they transfer through the vehicle’s towbar and frame. Even WDH manufacturers recognize this, stating quite clearly in their usage instructions to release the spring bars when negotiating driveways or spoon drains. This is the greatest downfall of the WDH, as many people don’t do this in practice. Instead, many users risk towbar and vehicle structural damage by keeping the WDH tensioned, as it’s too hard to stop all the time to release the spring bar tension and then re-tension it later."
 

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To answer my own question?



"WDHs come with their own problems. In particular, the enormous loads they transfer through the vehicle’s towbar and frame. Even WDH manufacturers recognize this, stating quite clearly in their usage instructions to release the spring bars when negotiating driveways or spoon drains. This is the greatest downfall of the WDH, as many people don’t do this in practice. Instead, many users risk towbar and vehicle structural damage by keeping the WDH tensioned, as it’s too hard to stop all the time to release the spring bar tension and then re-tension it later."
Weight distribution hitches are commonly used by pickup trucks (mostly body on frame) when towing travel trailers. Tow vehicles will have a tongue weight rating. The WDH helps to prevent one from violating the tongue weight rating of the tow vehicle. It also helps to even out a trailer that is nose or tail heavy because either situation can affect handling.

You need to know what the tongue weight rating of the Ascent is. You'll also need to figure out what the tongue weight of the trailer is. Some weight distribution hitches have a load meter built in to them.

I didn't know that Subaru recommends against a weight distribution hitch. If they're worried about stressing out the subframe, you'd would think they'd want to know what the actual tongue weight on the hitch is.
 

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My apologies. I don't want to provide erroneous information. My post was based on my experience towing our 12k lb fifth wheel with our F450 dually. I did not order the Ascent with the tow package since my truck has both a fifth wheel hitch on the bed and a frame mounted tow hitch in the rear.

I still maintain that one has to be cautious when towing any trailer on the heavier side since the Ascent only weighs 4500 lbs. Just use common sense and be aware of weather and road conditions.

You don't want to end up like this guy....

As someone who drove the newer 2005 Xterra for 13 years and has a brother-in-law with the older 2003 Xterra I can say they were probably overdoing it for that older model. While it was rated to tow 5,000 lbs if you had the supercharged model the short wheelbase really could not handle it if you had any wind. The newer model was better in every way and still only had a 5,000 lb tow capacity.

I think that model Xterra is one of the reasons people sometimes doubt towing capacity as while the old Xterra could tow 5,000 lbs it was risky.
 

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We gotta be careful on how we advertise the Ascent because it's a CUV, having 18 cup holders for 7 passengers. I think it just happens that it can tow up-to 5000lbs, a lot of da*n weight. Because the car is designed primarily for people hauling, towing risks should be considered if emergency maneuvers are applied.

It might prudent to stiffen the suspension, front and rear, to keep the car rigid for towing. Keep in mind, the Ascent is primarily for HWY travel, which is what most ppl buy them for and spend the time on, not for towing or off-road. Therefore, provisions must be considered for your uses, other than HWY travel.
 

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It might prudent to stiffen the suspension, front and rear, to keep the car rigid for towing. Keep in mind, the Ascent is primarily for HWY travel, which is what most ppl buy them for and spend the time on, not for towing or off-road. Therefore, provisions must be considered for your uses, other than HWY travel.
The sway correction system counts on the suspension being able to react. Regardless, even on our bumpy roads here, it responds very smoothly to bumps and ruts.
 

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I am constantly amazed that many folks get hung up on the number of cylinders an engine has. It is completely irrelevant and has zero impact on towing capability. What matters is engine power ratings and vehicle chassis capabilities.

For those that don't know 6 cylinder engines are quite common in semi trucks pulling 60,000+ pounds.

You don't NEED 6 cylinders to pull a 4000 pound trailer.
 
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