Can A Subaru Outback Be Flat Towed?

The Subaru Outback is among the few successful station wagons or crossovers in the US. The Subaru outback does decent on mild off-road courses as well, thanks to its reasonable ground clearance and a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that is offered as standard. It makes the Outback a great vehicle to take along on long journeys towed behind your RV. And if you're wondering whether it's possible to flat tow it behind one, then you are in luck because we have compiled a comprehensive answer for that below, along with detailed steps to how to tow the Outback.

Yes, the Subaru Outback 2021 can be flat towed behind another vehicle. But according to Subaru, when the Outback is flat towed behind another vehicle, you must not travel at more than 20 mph, or 32 km/h, and the traveling distance is also limited to 31 miles or 50 km.

Subaru recommends using a flatbed trailer to tow the Outback for longer journeys at higher speeds. This method is also recommended for steep inclines or declines, as it might put unnecessary strain on the rope and the tie-down points. Dolly towing is strictly forbidden, as it will undoubtedly cause the car to spin off and might as well damage the center differential.

The Subaru Outback is known for being a reliable car that does great in all weather conditions. However, just like any vehicle, there is always a chance that you might need a tow. Read on as we discuss the process to tow a Subaru Outback properly.

A black colored Subaru Outback parked outside a building, Can A Subaru Outback Be Flat Towed?

How to Tow A Subaru Outback

You might need to tow your Outback in case of an emergency such as an accident or a tire burst. In such emergency scenarios, the safest option is to go for the flatbed trailer to tow the vehicle, as in case of a damaged transmission, the car might lose control when flat towed.

Subaru provides a tow hook with every Outback for the tow tie-down points, which can be accessed by prying open the cover on the front and rear bumpers. When attached at these towing points, the tow hook can be used to flat-tow the vehicle but under the speed and distance constraints mentioned by the manufacturer to avoid any damage. 

Flat Towing A Subaru Outback

Flat towing is the method of towing a vehicle with all four of its wheels on the ground. It is also sometimes called dinghy towing.

The Subaru Outback 2021 and older models can be flat towed, but Subaru recommends doing it in emergency scenarios only, for limited range and speed. The Outback is not suited to be flat towed behind a recreational vehicle. Tow hooks are provided with the Outback as it is marketed as a capable off-roader as well, and you would need a tow hook in case you get stuck out on an off-road track. Follow the following instructions to flat tow your Outback safely in emergency scenarios.

  1. Safely pop out the tow point plastic cover on the front bumper to screw the towing hook in the hole.
  2. Attach both the cars with a rope with one another; if you are using metal chains or wire rope to tow the vehicle, make sure it has sufficient clearance with the bumper.
  3. Turn the key to the "ON" position, and do not put it back to the "OFF" or "LOCK" position as it will lock the steering wheel.
  4. Release the parking brake and put the transmission into neutral.
  5. Take up the slack in the tow line slowly to prevent damage to the vehicle.
  6. You would require a driver in the Outback to operate the steering and brakes, as the brakes and steering would be much harder to operate when the engine is not running.

Remember that while it is possible to flat-tow a Subaru Outback at low speeds, it isn't recommended. Flat-towing an all-wheel-drive vehicle can cause costly damages to the car. If possible, putting the vehicle on a trailer is the ideal option.

Flat-Bed Towing

Flatbed towing a vehicle is the method of towing a vehicle with four wheels off the ground. The towed vehicle is parked on a trailer, and the trailer is pulled along by the towing vehicle. Subaru highly recommends Flat-Bed towing for safe and secure journeys.

You would require a flatbed trailer that can handle the weight and size of the Outback. Also, make sure that the ball size on your towing vehicle matches with the socket on the trailer. You would also need to check the trailer brake adapter and the Towing vehicle and ensure that both are compatible for proper functioning. Finally, follow the following instructions to tow your Outback safely and securely on a trailer.

  1. Raise the trailer with a jack and drive your towing vehicle to place the ball right below the socket.
  2. Lower your trailer and secure the connection as per the trailer manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Also, strap safety chains in an X pattern for further safety.
  4. Connect the trailer's brake light adapter with the towing vehicle.
  5. Now drive up your vehicle onto the trailer by deploying the ramps.
  6. Try to park the vehicle right above the trailer's axle to transfer most vertical weight to the axle instead of the hitch.
  7. Secure the vehicle on top as per the trailer manufacturer's instructions.


  • If transmission failure occurs or your vehicle has been in an accident, transport your vehicle on a flatbed truck.
  • The traveling speed must be limited to less than 20 mph (32 km/h) and the traveling distance to less than 31 miles (50 km). For greater speeds and distances, transport your vehicle on a flatbed truck.
  • Use a flatbed truck if there are long-distance downgrades or steep slopes.
  • Drive carefully and do not make an impact on the towing rope by suddenly starting. 

Putting the Subaru Outback on a trailer is the best option for towing. This will ensure that no damages are done to the vehicle. However, it isn't as convenient as flat-towing, but more efficient due to traveling at higher speeds.

Can You Tow A Subaru Outback On A Dolly?

No, Subaru strictly forbids the customers from dolly towing the Outback. Dolly towing a vehicle is the method of towing a vehicle with two wheels on the ground. It is due to the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that is provided as standard across all outback variants. Dolly towing the vehicle might damage the vehicle's center differential or cause the car to spin off from the dolly.

Is AWD Good For Towing?

While all-wheel-drive is an excellent option for driving in slippery road conditions, how does it fare when you need to towing something? First, all-wheel-drive vehicles are heavier than rear-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive vehicles, which decreases the max towing capabilities. However, several AWD vehicles on the market have plenty of power that can tow over 5,000 lbs. Check out our article What SUVs Can Tow 5,000 lbs for more information on good AWDs for towing.

Can You Flat Tow A New Subaru?

Yes, in case of an emergency, you can flat tow a Subaru, but at a speed of 20 mph or 32 km/h and lesser for at most 31 miles or 50 km. It is not recommended to flat-tow a new Subaru for recreational purposes behind an RV. Subaru highly suggests flatbed trailer towing for recreational towing.

If you want to take your Subaru Outback along with your RV on a long journey, hooking a flatbed trailer on the RV's back is your only safe option.

Closing Thoughts

A black colored Subaru Outback parked outside a building, Can A Subaru Outback Be Flat Towed?

So there you have it, you can flat tow a Subaru Outback, but it does come with strings attached. Flat-towing an Outback should only be done in emergencies. If possible, the best way to tow the Subaru Outback is by way of a trailer where all four tires are off the ground. With that being said, if you are looking for a vehicle to bring along behind your motorhome, the Subaru Outback probably isn't the best option.

If you enjoyed this article on how to tow a Subaru Outback, you might also like:

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Have you towed a Subaru Outback before? How did you do it? Leave us a comment below!

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