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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, we are very close to putting a deposit down for an Ascent. One thing that I don't like, and didn't realize this until now, is how the bumper looks when the receiver for the hitch shows. We are also considering the Atlas, and most of those come with the hitch already installed and it is more underneath the bumper rather than in the middle. I would love some information/opinions about why the difference. It makes me think the Atlas is more geared towards towing because of the more elegant hitch design and that they are (from what I have seen) usually already installed with a hitch. Thanks in advance.
 

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Aesthetics are not in any way related to whether or not it's geared for towing. ;)

The Ascent's OEM hitch (which is the only hitch that properly integrates into the Ascent frame) integrates into the Ascent's frame rails, and, the Ascent rides higher than any of the competition, making the hitch higher than the competition.

People make hitch covers for use with bike racks, or ones with wider openings that work for towing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Aesthetics are not in any way related to whether or not it's geared for towing. ;)

The Ascent's OEM hitch (which is the only hitch that properly integrates into the Ascent frame) integrates into the Ascent's frame rails, and, the Ascent rides higher than any of the competition, making the hitch higher than the competition.

People make hitch covers for use with bike racks, or ones with wider openings that work for towing.
Thank you for that reminder! :)
Does a higher hitch have an advantage? We are planning on towing an Escape 17B fiberglass trailer. Thanks!
 

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Ours is higher as an aspect of our ground clearance (best in class or close to it) and integration into the frame rails, as opposed to hanging off the bottom of them.

The Escape 17B is a pretty trailer! It weighs less than what I tow, and has a very nicely manageable tongue weight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ours is higher as an aspect of our ground clearance (best in class or close to it) and integration into the frame rails, as opposed to hanging off the bottom of them.

The Escape 17B is a pretty trailer! It weighs less than what I tow, and has a very nicely manageable tongue weight.
Thank you. Your posts and information throughout this site and to questions I have posted are so extremely helpful!
I am very excited about the trailer, I think it is 2004 and getting delivered to us any day now!
 

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Hi, we are very close to putting a deposit down for an Ascent. One thing that I don't like, and didn't realize this until now, is how the bumper looks when the receiver for the hitch shows. We are also considering the Atlas, and most of those come with the hitch already installed and it is more underneath the bumper rather than in the middle. I would love some information/opinions about why the difference. It makes me think the Atlas is more geared towards towing because of the more elegant hitch design and that they are (from what I have seen) usually already installed with a hitch. Thanks in advance.
Want to make sure I understand your question. When you say, “when the receiver for the hitch shows,” are you referring to when the hitch (i.e. ball mount) is inserted into the receiver (i.e. tow bar), or when only the tow bar is visible? With the OEM receiver and Curt receiver, it replaces the rear crash bar, and is covered up by a rear panel when not in use. The cover is removed/reinserted using two plastic push pins. From my perspective, that gives the best of both worlds: (1) the cover keeps the receiver totally concealed when not towing; and (2) you get higher rear ground clearance while towing because the receiver is in-line with the rear bumper rather than underneath the rear bumper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Want to make sure I understand your question. When you say, “when the receiver for the hitch shows,” are you referring to when the hitch (i.e. ball mount) is inserted into the receiver (i.e. tow bar), or when only the tow bar is visible? With the OEM receiver and Curt receiver, it replaces the rear crash bar, and is covered up by a rear panel when not in use. The cover is removed/reinserted using two plastic push pins. From my perspective, that gives the best of both worlds: (1) the cover keeps the receiver totally concealed when not towing; and (2) you get higher rear ground clearance while towing because the receiver is in-line with the rear bumper rather than underneath the rear bumper.
oh, I meant receiver/tow bar, I am new to all the terminology! I like how you put it though. Is the OEM what Subaru automatically puts in?
 

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Curt does sell two styles of trailer hitches for the Ascent. Link here: All Products for 2020 Subaru Ascent (curtmfg.com)

They have a style that mounts under the bumper, if you prefer to see the hitch all the time. They also have the style that more closely mimics the OEM Subaru hitch, though I believe all aftermarket hitches lack the very large braces that slide into the rear frame rails that come with the OEM Subaru hitch.

The installation instructions for the low-hanging hitch (Curt 13400) indicate there's some bracket that slides into the frame rails and then the hitch actually hangs down from that. You have to modify the body a little bit to make that one work. Curt claims a 5,000 pound tow rating with a 675 pound tongue weight. Note that Subaru says the Ascent is rated for a 500 pound tongue weight and no hitch manufacturer can increase that with a marketing claim.

The installation instructions for the "OEM-style" hitch (Curt 13448) show how the hitch just bolts to the rear of the open frame rails. Curt claims a 5,000 pound tow rating and a 750 pound tongue weight with this one. Again, you're still limited to 500 pounds from Subaru.

The notable feature of the OEM Subaru hitch is the large pair of braces that slides into the frame rails. Aftermarket hitches that lack this rely ONLY on the strength of the bolt threads to retain the hitch to the vehicle. The hitch is just face-bolted to the rear of the frame and rearward force on the hitch will try to rip the bolts from the back of the car. That's all that's holding one of those aftermarket hitches on. The OEM Subaru hitch, in comparison, doesn't feature ANY face-bolted fasteners. The large braces are bolted laterally to the frame rails and then the hitch is bolted laterally to the braces. It's the very strong friction joints between all of those surfaces that hold the hitch to the vehicle. Of course, the tight fasteners create those friction joints, but the pulling strength of the hitch does not rely on the bolt threads resisting being stripped from the holes.

Get the OEM Subaru hitch!
 

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Is the OEM what Subaru automatically puts in?
You can option the hitch if you order an Ascent from the factory through a dealership. In this case, the hitch is installed at the factory by the factory floor staff. You can also buy the hitch as an accessory from the dealer and have the dealer install it prior to or after delivery. You can also buy the hitch as an accessory part and install it yourself. There are several good YouTube videos on how to install the hitch. It took me about three hours to do it on our Ascent this past weekend, working slowly.
 

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I should also say that the OEM Subaru hitch comes with all the wiring you'll need, though you could probably buy this wiring separately from the aftermarket if you went with an aftermarket hitch. The OEM Subaru hitch comes with both a 7-pin and 4-flat wiring setup and I think most or all of the electrical parts are from Hopkins (often labeled "Hoppy" in the aftermarket). So you could likely piece together a complete wiring setup yourself, but the OEM Subaru hitch comes with the entire package ready to go.

That's another indicator that the Ascent really was designed with towing in mind. The OEM hitch comes with 7-pin wiring and brake controller wiring as well. So you're not just limited to the basic 4-flat wiring that runs only your lights.
 

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It makes me think the Atlas is more geared towards towing because of the more elegant hitch design and that they are (from what I have seen) usually already installed with a hitch.
Actually, if you want to know which vehicle/hitch is better engineered for towing, find out if the Atlas factory hitch is part of VW's crash testing. The Ascent's might not look as elegant but the Subaru OEM hitch retains the same rear crash rating as the Ascent without the hitch installed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You can option the hitch if you order an Ascent from the factory through a dealership. In this case, the hitch is installed at the factory by the factory floor staff. You can also buy the hitch as an accessory from the dealer and have the dealer install it prior to or after delivery. You can also buy the hitch as an accessory part and install it yourself. There are several good YouTube videos on how to install the hitch. It took me about three hours to do it on our Ascent this past weekend, working slowly.
Got it, thanks. I was planning on adding the hitch as an accessory from the dealer, is there a downside in that vs factory installed?
 

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Factory installed is usually cheaper, but as part of the car order, some dealers will deep discount it. Otherwise, no difference.
 

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Factory installed is usually cheaper, but as part of the car order, some dealers will deep discount it. Otherwise, no difference.
Robert, I think you've said before...but...the factory installation is classified as a "port install", meaning the hitch is installed after final assembly of the car, right? In other words, they need to remove the bumper cover and do the exact same procedure there that the dealer would do on the shop floor, right?
 

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Exactly correct! It will either be installed in the "Port of Indiana", or "Port of Upstate NY", or "Port of Boston" depending on where the car is being sold.
 

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Robert, I think you've said before...but...the factory installation is classified as a "port install", meaning the hitch is installed after final assembly of the car, right? In other words, they need to remove the bumper cover and do the exact same procedure there that the dealer would do on the shop floor, right?
I believe for the Ascent, the "port" is right at the end of the assembly line. It's entirely possible that with proper mfg. line organization that the bumper cover is somewhere inside the car saving the time to remove it. Purely conjecture on my part, but I did start my career in technology writing production control software for heavy manufacturing.
 

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Alas, no, "port" is a different "building", and all cars are fully assembled before they hit the dyno test and roll out of the "factory". In the case of cars built for mid and northern NJ, New York and all of New England, "port" is a different building in NY or Boston, and the accessories get installed at those locations.
 

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I had mine factory/port installed...zero extra installation cost and the same discount as the rest of the vehicle. I could be wrong, but I think the only accessory that cannot be ordered/installed that way is the fob-based remote start which is dealer install only.

One of the reasons I prefer to factory order vehicles is to avoid the "dealer dance" with things like this. :) Professor Dr. SWMBO's MY20 Forester Limited was the only exception in recent years as we "needed it" immediately and our dealer actually had the exact configuration we wanted in the colors we wanted available. The only thing that came with it that we didn't want/need was the so-called "all weather floor mats" but they got recycled when nobody in the greater community wanted them.
 
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