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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just took our first trip after finally reaching the 1k mile engine break in with a 3200 lb Rpod camper and about 340 pounds of tongue weight. Overall the ascent felt extremely stable and never felt pushed around by the weight of the camper or a passing semi which I sometimes experienced with our forester towing a 2300 lb popup. Braking was excellent (though it has trailer brakes). The rpms ranged from 2K which is a little elevated to 2300 on normal roads at high speeds of 60-64. Although this is Wisconsin and can't speak to how it would do in mountain driving, there were a few long 9% grades in some river bluff regions and the car had no problem maintaining speeds, though rpms were up to 3200 which still isn't bad. Gas mileage dropped in half to about 13-14 mpg, but that was expected given the weight and wind resistance of a 9 foot camper. Overall I would say it's a great tow vehicle. The one thing to remember is to disable the blind spot detection/RAB when backing or it will lock up the wheels which happened while trying to back it into a campsite at night in the rain. :grin:
 

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Just took our first trip after finally reaching the 1k mile engine... :grin:
Thanks for this! I don't have my hitch installed yet but I've really been wondering how the Ascent will do. It's great hearing from more people as they get a chance to tow.

Did you use or feel the need to use the paddle shifters at all? Or did the Ascent seem to handle itself ok? With that low tongue weight did the car feel balanced or could you feel the nose of the Ascent tipping up a bit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for this! I don't have my hitch installed yet but I've really been wondering how the Ascent will do. It's great hearing from more people as they get a chance to tow.

Did you use or feel the need to use the paddle shifters at all? Or did the Ascent seem to handle itself ok? With that low tongue weight did the car feel balanced or could you feel the nose of the Ascent tipping up a bit?
The transmission was fine and didn't seem under any strain or have trouble finding a gear. I did use the paddles once, but that was to try out downshifting on a steep decline for later mountain driving I plan to do. The paddles are great, really easy to use. Also, I should mention, acceleration was great as well. Just a slight sluggishness starting out, but no problem getting up to 60 on an on ramp. I don't think I would want to go much beyond 340-50 pounds tongue weight, but it didn't compress the rear too much. The suspension is quite stiff to begin with. Headlights appeared to be aligned well when driving. Really pleased overall. And the kids loved the extra room that made the long drive more manageable.
 

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Just took our first trip after finally reaching the 1k mile engine break in...
two questions: did you find the side view mirrors provided an adequate view while on the road and especially when backing up? And, when you disable the RAB does it stay disabled till you shut off the ignition or just when you shift out of reverse?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
two questions: did you find the side view mirrors provided an adequate view while on the road and especially when backing up? And, when you disable the RAB does it stay disabled till you shut off the ignition or just when you shift out of reverse?
The mirrors are out far enough for good side viewing on both sides, but that is partly because the rpod camper has a narrow body width (77inches) with the wheels outside the body. A traditional sized travel trailer with the body over the wheels would probably need an extension mirror, but maybe not.

On the RAB, what I found is that it won't let you disable it when it's giving an alert which happens immediately when putting it in reverse with the trailer hooked up. Hitting the RAB button on the screen does nothing. What I found is that turning the blind spot detection button off on the left side panel seems to prevent the reverse auto braking from activating and locking the wheels, but still screams at you the whole time you're backing. I am still trying to make sense of this and how these two things work together, but it definitely worked for me after the brakes locked up and I was thinking, ok, do I have to now push this thing into the campsite myself!!
 

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Did you use a WDH? There’s some discussion in other threads as Subaru advises not to for the Ascent. I’ll be a nubie to towing when our Ascent arrives and we pull the trigger on a new travel trailer so trying to figure out the basics. We’re looking at an Apex Nano that comes in around 3500lbs and hitch at 370lbs so glad to hear the Ascent handles well in that range.
 

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The mirrors are out far enough for good side viewing on both sides, but that is partly because the rpod camper has a narrow body width (77inches) with the wheels outside the body. A traditional sized travel trailer with the body over the wheels would probably need an extension mirror, but maybe not.

On the RAB, what I found is that it won't let you disable it when it's giving an alert which happens immediately when putting it in reverse with the trailer hooked up. Hitting the RAB button on the screen does nothing. What I found is that turning the blind spot detection button off on the left side panel seems to prevent the reverse auto braking from activating and locking the wheels, but still screams at you the whole time you're backing. I am still trying to make sense of this and how these two things work together, but it definitely worked for me after the brakes locked up and I was thinking, ok, do I have to now push this thing into the campsite myself!!
If it's anything like our 2017 Outback, you have to push and hold the RAB button on the screen for several seconds (feels like forever) and the RAB will be deactivated until you shift out of reverse. The next time you go back into reverse it will be active again and you'll have to disable it manually again if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, I had done that before when I was just playing around with it and it worked fine. I'll have to try and recreate this situation again with the trailer attached, but what I think happens is that the RAB button on the screen disappears when it is actively in alarm mode which is when the trailer is hooked up and you put it in reverse. So there doesn't seem to be a way to disable it by using the button. I remember reading something in the manual that said with towing to contact your dealer about disabling the RAB function, and remember thinking how odd. But I'll have to do it again to confirm. As I said, turning off the blind spot detection had some effect on the RAB in that it stopped the brakes from locking up at least.
 

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Can you post pictures of the hitch? I'm getting mine installed on Monday, just wanting to see the finished product!
If you look on page 14 and 15 of this thread there are a few pictures.

https://www.ascentforums.com/#/topics/1071?page=14

And a note, as others have said, be careful of the clips left on the fascia that the cover toggles go into. Once the cover is off they can pop off easily and should be removed before driving off.
 

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If you look on page 14 and 15 of this thread there are a few pictures.

https://www.ascentforums.com/#/topics/1071?page=14

And a note, as others have said, be careful of the clips left on the fascia that the cover toggles go into. Once the cover is off they can pop off easily and should be removed before driving off.
I've held these in place with some hot glue and they don't seem to be going anywhere.
 

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I would have thought that the Ascent would detect the trailer and deactivate RAB automatically. My 2016 Escape Titanium did deactivate features when it had a trailer attached.
 

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What I found is that turning the blind spot detection button off on the left side panel seems to prevent the reverse auto braking from activating and locking the wheels, but still screams at you the whole time you're backing. I am still trying to make sense of this and how these two things work together, but it definitely worked for me after the brakes locked up and I was thinking, ok, do I have to now push this thing into the campsite myself!!
Probably proximity sensor warnings. My Pilot does this with our bike rack or hitch basket attached.
 
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I wanted to share another positive experience towing with the Ascent (5,000 lb tow rating):

Trailer: Rockwood HW277 pop-up camper (single axle)
Dry wt: ~3250 lbs
Tongue wt: 360 lbs
Cargo: 2 adults, 2 young children, typical baby-stuff loaded car. Camper had no water in any of the tanks.
Estimated total cargo wt: (people, luggage, etc.) <4,000 LBS
Distance: ~500 miles
Elevation change: +3,000'
Terrain: hilly (Texas Hill Country)
Cruising speed: ~70-75 MPH (flat terrain)
Brake controller: Prodigy P3, set to power level 10 (when loaded with passengers and cargo, 7-8 if not), boost level 1
Ambient air temp: ~60F
Gas mileage: 11-13 MPG, depending on terrain
Towing Experience Level: "experienced inexperienced" tower - sort of like an advanced beginner skier. For example, I probably knew how to hitch up a trailer when I was 11 y/o, but due to lack of practice I struggle to back them up on the first (ahem third) try.

Impressions:
- I felt in control and confident at all times; engine had plenty of grunt. If I had pushed the car harder, I probably could have gone uphill at 70, but on the biggest hills I went about 55. I was not trying to push the car hard.
- The brake controller worked great; still need to mount it permanently. I did a "shake down cruise" without the family in the vehicle. I recommend this - the pigtail to my trailer was loose and the brake controller stopped working. Luckily I was only going 25 MPH in a residential area.
- Plan for 2x frequency fuel stops over normal driving due to mileage being cut essentially in half.
- Note that this trailer when towed is no taller than the vehicle. I suspect drag (and therefore towing experience) of a similar-weight full-height camper would be worse; how much I can't really say.

Improvements for next time:

- towing mirrors. I could see what was to the side of me just fine, but if a state trooper had been trying to pull me over, I could have been in the next county before I realized.
- cargo distribution. I should have put a bit more of the cargo load in the camper - a bit less in the trunk. The front end of the vehicle was a little high, rear was a little low. Steering was correspondingly a little lighter than normal. With 4 passengers in the vehicle, couldn't put much cargo in the rear seat area and next time will try to get some weight off of the rear axle of the car.

Questions:

- Any recommendations for a good rear-mounted wifi or bluetooth type backupcamera I could put on the back of the trailer?
- Any informed opinions about the ideal RPM range to keep a CVT transmission in while towing? I know in a typical automatic you should keep it out of overdrive/highest gear, wondering if the same thing applies to a CVT?
- IS THERE A WAY TO GET YOUR TRANSMISSION TEMP TO SHOW UP ON THE CAR'S DISPLAYS? I looked, but couldn't find anything. Based on my initial experience on a cool-ish day (for my area), the car didn't break a sweat, but I'd like to validate that I'm not cooking the transmission.

To-Do:
- determine whether towing burned any engine oil.

I am a novice tower and RV'er with a young family I am trying to keep safe and create memories with - hope this is helpful to others!! If you have any questions or I left out something useful, please let me know. The info on this forum helped give us the confidence to undertake this, and I want to pay that back.
 

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Thanks for the post. This seems good, except for the MPG. I generally get 15-20 MPG while towing a 2500LB somewhat aerodynamic camper with my 2015 Outback (2.5), but I try to keep it under 65 on the interstates and much prefer the 55 mph back roads. It would be great to hear what others are getting for MPG while towing ( MPG, trailer weight, boxy or more aerodynamic trailer, interstate speeds).
 

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It would be a good exercise to load everything up including the family and head over to some CAT weigh scales. Get weighed to see what the weight on the front, rear, and trailer axles are. That way you will know what the exact distribution is and that you are not overweight.

Someone posted up a link to a wireless hitching camera. If I can find it I will post it up.

Mirrors are everything when towing. You need to see to be safe. I love the mirrors on my truck. They extend out when I’m towing. The mirror is split with the upper and lower sections being independently adjustable. The upper mirror tells me what’s around us while the lower mirror is pointed to the rear tires so that i can see where we are in the lane.
 
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Regarding the MPG, the speed limit for the roads I was on was 75-80 MPH, and the terrain was hilly. My primary goal was to stay in the same ballpark as the flow of traffic, though I never intentionally went over 75 MPH, I was frequently going 70-75 MPH. I get 24-26 MPG under normal driving conditions for reference.

The Ascent is rated at 21/27 mpg and has 260 HP, whereas your Outback is rated at 25/33 MPG and 175 HP. With a lighter foot and a lighter trailer, I bet you'd see better fuel economy, especially on level ground. But I bet 15 MPG would be the high end of the range in the Ascent, whereas it was the low end of your range in the Outback.
 

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This was really nothing for the Ascent, but huge for me. We picked up a 5'x10' U-Haul trailer today
https://www.uhaul.com/Trailers/5x10-Cargo-Trailer-Rental/MV/

and brought it home (empty) 20 miles in our first Ascent tow! Then the big feat was to back it up a long driveway, up an S-turn and around a tight corner to the garage door. Wish I could say I did it in one shot, but I had to re-straighten a few times. Getting the hang of it though.

I can definitely feel the trailer, and this one in particular because of its surge brakes. I would look forward to towing a trailer with a brake controller. Maybe soon! This test run with the U-Haul is giving me confidence in hauling something bigger.

Longer drive tomorrow with a sofa loaded in the trailer.

F.S.
 

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So we added about 150lbs of couch to the front of the U-Haul, still a pretty light load for the Ascent at 1400 lbs total. 120 miles up, easy going. The trailer was steady and had no tendency to sway (freeway was 60-70mph) (started at 55, but I was afraid we were going to get mowed over at that speed). Hitch did great, hitch clamp did great.

Mileage was nasty, with the roof top tent, trailer, and drenching rain. 15-16 mpg on this trip, versus 17-18 with just the tent, versus 19-21 with nothing (I could baby it into the 20's but my habits run me around 19-21mpg mixed city/highway normally).

For a wider RV trailer, I'd find some side mirror add-ons to see better when on the freeway and when backing up, but for this trailer (5'9" wide main box) the regular mirrors were fine.

Here's a proud Subie owner pic in L.A., pulled into a long space but the trailer was still angled out, so I pulled out into the lane and parallel parked! Took a few tries to get it close but here we are (and no one hit us lol).

I am ready for a bigger rig next vaca!

F.S.

Edit: When backing up with the Touring, the rear obstacle warning beeper and RAB kicked in. Hard stop! Lower left on the main screen shows RAB On, and lower right shows (I forget the display name but it's the incessant chime-) On. Press and hold for a couple seconds right on each of the warning squares to make them individually turn Off, at least until the next engine start.
 

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When I towed my Mustang behind the Ascent I didn't need mirrors as the trailer wasn't that wide. But my large (and tall) 3,500lb pop-up definitely needed them. I could see to the sides just fine, but not behind me.



I got 2 of these (they are sold singly)
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AJH1HK/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


They fit the mirrors well and were pretty stable. Still some vibrations, but it you snug them down tight with the ratchet, then try and wiggle them, then snug down one more notch they stayed on secure, even at 70mph (which I only hit a couple of times when I wasn't paying attention).
 
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