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Some folks on this forum have looked at, and through, “My Thoughts and Research On Towing a Travel Trailer with the Ascent.”

I realize that there is a lot of information there.

I also realize that probably no one, except for me, has read through the whole article with all of its associated links and information.

Some of you may also have read “Ken Myers’ First Travel Trailer Tow”.

So far, without taking the travel trailer on the road yet, except from the 103 mile trip home from the dealership, I am pleased with my purchase of the Coachmen Apex Nano 187RB.

I updated a section of the total article this morning. It is found on the page that I call Summaries, for want of a better name. That page contains various bits of information that I did not include in the main article or have removed from the main article.

Buying the Dream

It appears that many of us “bought into” Subaru’s “dream” of being able to pull a travel trailer with our 2019 Ascents, but the reality can be quite different.



In the article “My Thoughts and Research On Towing a Travel Trailer with the Ascent”, I attempted to explain why those two units cannot be practically towed by the 2019 Subaru Ascent. Note the word ‘practically’.

As I searched for various travel trailers that could actually, and practically, be towed by the Ascent, I was disappointed to discover that my wants and desires had to change and compromises had to be made; some pretty big compromises.

The RV Industry Association (RVIA) has used the “dream” of the joys of traveling, camping and family unity to sell travel trailers and other types of RVs.

On the Summaries page is a section titled, “Some Ramifications of the Law Regarding the Purchase of RVs”.

I believe that few people on this forum have watched the videos in that section.

If you are brand-new to RVing, I believe that now would be a good time to view them and see what you are getting yourself into. I believe that it is essential for folks contemplating the purchase of a travel trailer, to pull behind our Subaru Ascents, to do so with their eyes wide open.

I also have a page titled “RV Videos.”

I hope some folks have taken time to view them.

For folks who may be new to the RV lifestyle, I’ve linked to three of them in this post, so that you may know what you are getting into.

Not just another RV Top 5 list! What you REALLY need to know about the RV industry!
Yes, it is a sales pitch for his course, but it contains five extremely important points about RVs and the RV lifestyle in general.

What you need to know about SERVICE in the RV industry! Part 1 of 2!
The title says it all.

What your RV salesperson wishes he could tell you! (or "Reality check!”)
Contains useful information about owning and maintaining an RV today.

I am NOT trying to be a “Debbie Downer”. I just want folks to be totally aware of the difference between being “sold a dream” and “sold an object”.

My wife and I are very much looking forward to our upcoming RV adventures and the use of our new travel trailer with some of our granddaughters.

All I am trying to say is, think, think seriously before you decide that just because your Ascent might be able to pull a travel trailer, that it might be the right thing for YOU to do.

I’d also like to note that I am on the way out to purchase a few more items for our travel trailer; a breaker bar, bottle jack and first aid kit.

We are getting ‘her’ ready. :)
 

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Ken, you've done some of the best research on the purchase and use of RV's for the Ascent. As someone in the market for an RV, I thank you. I've learned a lot from your research and it was eye-opening.

I purchased my Ascent thinking I would have a great choice of RV's to choose from in the 5000-pound range. This was naive and I quickly discovered that the Ascent can only practically tow RV's in the 3000-pound range. This considerably limits the choices available to much smaller models, although there are still some excellent choices available. However, this is the first thing everyone purchasing an Ascent with the dream of towing an RV must know and understand.

For instance, I had my heart sent on a Lance 1685. With a Gross Dry Weight of 3980 lbs. and a Hitch Dry Weight of 425 lbs., it seemed at first glance to be an ideal match for the Ascent's towing capacity of 5000 lbs. and 500 lbs. hitch weight. That is until you add cargo including all your gear, batteries, LP tanks, water in the tanks, etc. which can add over 1000 lbs., then account for the loaded hitch weight, and then account for the recommended buffer below the maximums. Even though the Lance 1685 is classified as a lightweight trailer in the 5000 lb. tow vehicle category, it would push the Ascent to its absolute maximum capacity which is never a good idea, although some do this.

I had to drop down to the Lance 1475 which has a Gross Dry Weight of 2600 lbs. and a Hitch Dry Weight of 250 lbs. This is an ultra-lightweight RV and much more compatible with the Ascent's towing capabilities.

So anyone considering the dream of serious RV'ing with an Ascent should first read Ken's research before making any decisions on a tow vehicle and an RV. If you're new to RV's, there's a lot to learn.
 

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Thanks for sharing!

The most important point of all of this for any kind of towing with any kind of vehicle: published maximum specifications are just that and the goal shouldn't be to try and get as close as you can to the the upper limit. Less is more. Weight isn't the only factor, too, especially with travel trailers. Aside from pulling and braking, there's the "sail effect" and a bigger "sail" can exert a lot more force. Practical and realistic is absolutely the goal and if one really requires bigger/more amenities, then perhaps the Ascent isn't the right tow vehicle to pull it off..
 
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Before I even considered an Ascent I was taught some of this sobering information by a buddy who had to upgrade his tow truck to one with a much heavier capacity. He found out the hard way that when the manufacturer gives the capacity number that one should NEVER get a trailer (dry weight) which comes even close to that number. He had a horrible time trying to climb hills. And he had a Chevy truck with a 7K Lbs capacity. He had to go with another model with much higher tow capacity. So, I knew going into this that any trailer we might consider for our Ascent, had to be under or around 3K in dry weight.
 

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Ken, you've done some of the best research on the purchase and use of RV's for the Ascent. As someone in the market for an RV, I thank you. I've learned a lot from your research and it was eye-opening.

I purchased my Ascent thinking I would have a great choice of RV's to choose from in the 5000-pound range. This was naive and I quickly discovered that the Ascent can only practically tow RV's in the 3000-pound range. This considerably limits the choices available to much smaller models, although there are still some excellent choices available. However, this is the first thing everyone purchasing an Ascent with the dream of towing an RV must know and understand.

For instance, I had my heart sent on a Lance 1685. With a Gross Dry Weight of 3980 lbs. and a Hitch Dry Weight of 425 lbs., it seemed at first glance to be an ideal match for the Ascent's towing capacity of 5000 lbs. and 500 lbs. hitch weight. That is until you add cargo including all your gear, batteries, LP tanks, water in the tanks, etc. which can add over 1000 lbs., then account for the loaded hitch weight, and then account for the recommended buffer below the maximums. Even though the Lance 1685 is classified as a lightweight trailer in the 5000 lb. tow vehicle category, it would push the Ascent to its absolute maximum capacity which is never a good idea, although some do this.

I had to drop down to the Lance 1475 which has a Gross Dry Weight of 2600 lbs. and a Hitch Dry Weight of 250 lbs. This is an ultra-lightweight RV and much more compatible with the Ascent's towing capabilities.

So anyone considering the dream of serious RV'ing with an Ascent should first read Ken's research before making any decisions on a tow vehicle and an RV. If you're new to RV's, there's a lot to learn.
check out this XP-6 camper. The weight of the XP-6 may be too much for an Ascent tow in which case I might consider the XP-4. I have no idea what the pricing or distribution is, but I suspect it does not come cheap. They both seem to be great for off road and comfort.
 

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Ken, you've done some of the best research on the purchase and use of RV's for the Ascent. As someone in the market for an RV, I thank you. I've learned a lot from your research and it was eye-opening.

I purchased my Ascent thinking I would have a great choice of RV's to choose from in the 5000-pound range. This was naive and I quickly discovered that the Ascent can only practically tow RV's in the 3000-pound range. This considerably limits the choices available to much smaller models, although there are still some excellent choices available. However, this is the first thing everyone purchasing an Ascent with the dream of towing an RV must know and understand.

For instance, I had my heart sent on a Lance 1685. With a Gross Dry Weight of 3980 lbs. and a Hitch Dry Weight of 425 lbs., it seemed at first glance to be an ideal match for the Ascent's towing capacity of 5000 lbs. and 500 lbs. hitch weight. That is until you add cargo including all your gear, batteries, LP tanks, water in the tanks, etc. which can add over 1000 lbs., then account for the loaded hitch weight, and then account for the recommended buffer below the maximums. Even though the Lance 1685 is classified as a lightweight trailer in the 5000 lb. tow vehicle category, it would push the Ascent to its absolute maximum capacity which is never a good idea, although some do this.

I had to drop down to the Lance 1475 which has a Gross Dry Weight of 2600 lbs. and a Hitch Dry Weight of 250 lbs. This is an ultra-lightweight RV and much more compatible with the Ascent's towing capabilities.

So anyone considering the dream of serious RV'ing with an Ascent should first read Ken's research before making any decisions on a tow vehicle and an RV. If you're new to RV's, there's a lot to learn.
 

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We just looked at the 1475S today and really liked the quality and layout even with the east west bed. This would be our first time trailering an RV. Have you had yours long enough for pros and cons? It's just 2 adults and a german shepherd who thinks she's an adult.
 

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We just looked at the 1475S today and really liked the quality and layout even with the east west bed. This would be our first time trailering an RV. Have you had yours long enough for pros and cons? It's just 2 adults and a german shepherd who thinks she's an adult.
If you're asking me specifically, I have not purchased one yet, I need to get closer to retirement. However, of all the travel trailers I've seen, which is hundreds (been looking/researching for two years), Lance seems to have the best quality for the money. There are even better quality trailers, such as Airstream, but they cost significantly more. Lance is a midpriced brand with exceptional quality. They're not perfect, but with all the poorly constructed trailers out there, Lance is considerably better made than most.

The 1475S is gorgeous inside and out and it's now available in a four-season option. The only trailer I like better is the Lance 1685 which is phenomenal for an ultralight, but slightly heavy for the Ascent unless the load weight is carefully managed.

The 1475S is a perfect match for the Ascent. If you like the layout, it's hard to imagine finding anything better for the price.
 

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Thx for response. Made the "mistake" of looking at the lance before we looked at some other models, so it's going to be a bit hard to find one with similar quality. Just started looking at actual trailers after several months of researching all the options, but hoping to have something by the fall. Good luck with getting yours.
 

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As someone who tows a fifth wheel, here's my two cents.

First of all, most trailers are in fact heavier at the pin than what the manufacturer claims. A rough rule of thumb to go by is 20% of the GVW of the trailer is pin weight.

You can't go by what Subaru claims is the max tow weight of a trailer. You've got to figure out what the rated GVW of the Ascent is. Add your fuel, all luggage, passengers (including driver), and anything else you're going to be carrying. Then take that 20% of your trailer's GVW, and add that to the above total to arrive at the totality of what your vehicle would be carrying. It's NEVER a good idea to be at your max GVW*

Second - consider the type of terrain you'll be towing over. Are you only going to be towing across flat terrain with hardly any elevation changes? How are the crosswinds? If you're close to max GVW, how well do you think the suv/trailer combo is going to ascent an 8 mile long, 8.5% grade? What about when you're coming down a long steep grade? If you've got a heavy trailer pushing you down the hill, how well will the Ascent handle the load? Are the brakes up to it? How about if we throw in some wind and rain? What if that car in front of you decides to brake all of a sudden? What if you have to swerve to avoid an obstacle?

Third - how durable will the Subaru drivetrain be if you're towing hills very often?

Fourth - are you willing to get some proper towing mirrors? When you're towing, seeing is vital. The tiny Subie mirrors aren't going to give you enough information to be safe. You need a proper towing mirror with one part showing the blind spots, and the other part preferably showing where your rear tires are relative to the curb and lane markers.

So that you don't think I'm full of hot air, these past two summers, I've pulled our Grand Design Reflection 28bh fifth wheel approximately 11k miles, with a Ford F450 dually. The truck is a diesel dually and it's a beast. It's designed to tow heavy. I could easily tow a 20k lb plus trailer. The motor has 925 ft lb of torque. The truck has an engine brake that helps to hold our speed going down steep grades. I can set the cruise in tow/haul mode, and the truck will easily hold our speed going down a long steep grade without overheating the massive 15" brakes. Our trailer is "only" 11k lbs GVW. So my truck is overkill. I want it that way.

We've towed the trailer on narrow mountain roads over a 9910' summit. We've towed in heavy wind conditions. I've had a dust devil (mini tornado) hit our truck/trailer. I've towed in rain (not my favorite). We've been all over the western US, and British Columbia and Alberta as well. In all that time, I can proudly state we've never been unsafe.

I've seen a lot of bad suv/trailer and truck/trailer combos out there. IOW these were not safe combinations. I've had suv/trailers nearly get blown into our lane while we were passing them. I've seen a lot of combos where the trailer is clearly pushing the tow vehicle.

The point of all this is, consider what you'll be towing and under what conditions. Be SAFE for your own sake and the other drivers around you. I'm sure the Ascent can tow some relatively light weight trailers. However it's not the ideal vehicle for towing so be aware of the shortcomings. If you're not comfortable towing, get some lessons. RVschool.com has instructors all over the country.

Don't forget to get your suv and trailer weighed at the CAT scales. Don't be intimidated by the process. It's important to know what your true weights are so you're not overweight.

There are some fantastic lightweight trailers out there these days. Have fun!
 

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What have folks been using for mirrors ? Stick on ? Bungie cord tripod mirrors ?

I'm coming off a dodge Dakota (same as Durango) that had nice factory tow mirrors. The Ascent mirrors not so good
 

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What have folks been using for mirrors ? Stick on ? Bungie cord tripod mirrors ?

I'm coming off a dodge Dakota (same as Durango) that had nice factory tow mirrors. The Ascent mirrors not so good
I will second Ken Myers' recommendation of the Fit System 3891. I bought a pair based on recommendations from this forum and am very happy with them. The ratchet tightening mechanism lets you get it tight enough to be really secure and minimize vibration. They do limit the adjustment range of the regular mirrors at the extremes, but I've not found that to be a problem.

--
Moose
 

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Towing a 21',3,200 lb 2018 Little Guy Max trailer with the 2020 Ascent Touring. No WDH, no sway bars, first time towing for me (apart from a kayak trailer). Only done a couple of short trips, but so far so good - handles great (apart from 12 mpg!)

2821
 

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I can also recommend the mirrors mentioned above they work great and so far have only slightly wrinkled the wrap on our mirrors, which is a miracle since once they are on they stay on. I think my permanent solution would be a high quality camera system, but that will be a ways off. And I will add here that a rearview camera on the trailer is a great addition and gives a much needed point of veiw when reversing with the trailer, there are plenty of them on the market just find one with decent reviews and you should be happy!
 

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Towing a 21',3,200 lb 2018 Little Guy Max trailer with the 2020 Ascent Touring. No WDH, no sway bars, first time towing for me (apart from a kayak trailer). Only done a couple of short trips, but so far so good - handles great (apart from 12 mpg!)

View attachment 2821
Is it doing well in mountain areas? I will be towing my 2018 Little Guy Max with a 2019 premium Ascent and am stressed to if it will pull it ok. How much added weight did you have? Thank you for posting this. My trailer is in Utah and I am in Maryland. Retiring next year and was wondering if I have to update my tow vehicle.
 

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Is it doing well in mountain areas? I will be towing my 2018 Little Guy Max with a 2019 premium Ascent and am stressed to if it will pull it ok. How much added weight did you have? Thank you for posting this. My trailer is in Utah and I am in Maryland. Retiring next year and was wondering if I have to update my tow vehicle.
Based on the specs of that trailer you’re well within the limits of the Ascent. I wouldn’t anticipate any problem towing it
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Is it doing well in mountain areas? I will be towing my 2018 Little Guy Max with a 2019 premium Ascent and am stressed to if it will pull it ok. How much added weight did you have? Thank you for posting this. My trailer is in Utah and I am in Maryland. Retiring next year and was wondering if I have to update my tow vehicle.
First time RV tower here, so I don't have anything to compare with. What I would say is that I feel very safe and comfortable towing the Little Guy Max. The closest we have been to mountains is the Texas Hill Country, and it was fine. No sway bars or weight distribution hitch, and we haven't experienced any sway whatsoever. Using a Tekonsha Prodigy RF Brake Controller. As for weight - we carry a few bits in the RV pass-through (table, chairs, portable grills), but most in the car - two adults, two folding mountain bikes, two inflatable paddle boards, a tandem kayak on the roof.
 

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No sway bars or weight distribution hitch, and we haven't experienced any sway whatsoever.
That's good because they are not permitted to be used on the Ascent by Subaru specification. :)
 
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