What Should Be Considered Before Buying A Hitch?
Several factors should go into purchasing a trailer hitch before you rush to the service center to have it installed.
What is the Towing Capacity of Your Vehicle?
You will need a trailer hitch that matches your vehicle’s towing capability. For example, the 2020 - 23 Outback XT is rated for up to 3,500 pounds, but only if you have the towing package installed (properly equipped). Most Subarus can pull a 2,000 lb trailer to handle a small camper, bike rack, or motorized scooter carrier.
What Kind of Hitch Do You Need?
Rear frame-mounted hitches come in two different types; hidden and visible. A hidden tow hitch disappears under the bumper, while a standard tow hitch is more visible.
A frame-mounted unit bolts directly to the underside of the car’s frame, which means it has a more robust connection point. A bumper-mounted hitch will not have the towing capacity and will affect the appearance of the back of your Subaru. However, if all you plan to pull is a light bike rack, you can get buy with a bumper unit, but for most Subaru owners, a frame-mounted hitch is the best.
All trailer hitches are rated by class for the amount of weight they are designed for towing. You should know the trailer’s weight and choose a class hitch that handles more than your gross trailer weight. (For most Outback owners, a Class II trailer hitch is adequate, but if you plan to pull more, go to a Class III).
- Class I - Up to 2000 lbs.
- Class II - 2000 to 3500 lbs.
- Class III - 3500 to 8000 lbs.
- Class IV - 5000 to 12,000 lbs.
- Class V - 10,000 to 25,000 lbs.
Should You Choose OEM Or An Aftermarket?
As an SUV owner, you can choose whether to install an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) hitch or go with one made by another company as an aftermarket. The advantage of factory-made equipment is that it meets all safety standards and has been tested to pull the weight it should. The advantage of an aftermarket unit is that it is generally less expensive to install and might save you some money while still getting the towing job done.
Learn the Specifics About the Hitch
Our recommendation is to become as familiar as you can with the hitch you are thinking about installing. For example, you want a hitch made from heavy-duty steel for maximum strength and longevity. You need a hitch that has been factory tested. While there is no Federal standard for safety or quality for trailer hitches, many manufacturers take it upon themselves to test their equipment or have them tested by other watchdog organizations. SAE J684 is responsible for testing hitches and safety chains, so look for a specific hitch with this rating mentioned.
What Are The Best Hitches For A Subaru Outback?
Several manufacturers specialize in making aftermarket hitches for many different truck and SUV models. We have listed the ones we feel have merit below.
Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver Class III - 2 inch
This Draw-Tite custom-fit trailer hitch is a Class III hitch that mounts neatly under the rear bumper and can be fitted to older models of the Subaru Outback Wagon. The trailer hitch does a great job of staying hidden (although the crossbar and receiver tube are visible).
The Draw-Tite Hitch is made of solid steel alloy and is finished in a black powder coat. The unit exceeds industry standards and is made to support 4,000 lbs GTW (gross trailer weight) and 600 lbs TW (tongue weight). The Draw-Tite is not compatible with weight distribution hitches. The receiver tube has a safety plate to reinforce the hitch location and provide plenty of room for hooking up safety chains. The 2-inch square receiver tube is standard with a reinforced lip for added strength at the connection point. There is adequate ground clearance for the hitch, so you shouldn’t scrape the underside.
This Draw-Tite hitch bolts on and comes with all the necessary hardware. (Be prepared: you will need to drill some holes for the installation). DIYers should be able to install the hitch in under a couple of hours. (We recommend using the detailed directions on the e-trailer review site - they are accommodating). Once installed, the look couldn’t be better, giving the appearance of an appropriate trailer hitch. Some Subaru owners ordered the part from e-trailer.com, and took it to a local dealer or truck shop for installation.
This Draw-Tite hitch is very effective for hauling bike racks, cargo carriers, or small trailers. It is durable, adds to the vehicle’s value, and will not damage the structural integrity of your vehicle (as long as it is installed correctly).
The hitch comes with a limited lifetime warranty and a 4.8 rating on e-trailer.com with almost 1k reviews.
Draw-Tite is one of the most trusted names in trailer hitch hardware and has been a leading innovator in designing and manufacturing trailer components for many years. The company is based out of Plymouth, MI, and has been in business since 1946. Draw-Tite is a member of the Horizon Global family, and their hitches are made in Mexico.
What We Like
- Fits older 2010 - 2019 Subaru Outback Wagons
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Good classic looking hitch
- Perfect for most towing needs
What We Dislike
- Made in Mexico
CURT 99308 Class 3 Trailer Hitch - 2 inch
This Curt Mfg Class III Hitch is a custom-fit trailer hitch with a visible cross tube, but it is solid and sturdy. The hitch has a round tube design that sits nicely under the car’s rear bumper and is perfect for a bike rack or unit that can be folded up near the vehicle’s rear. Made of superior carbon steel alloy, the hitch is coated with rust-resistant bonderite and a powder coat black finish.
The Curt hitch is rated for 4,000 lbs of trailer weight and 600 lbs of tongue weight. It is SAE J684 tested and equipped for select Outback models (2014 - ‘19). (Use the size chart to ensure this part fits your Subaru model).
This kit is a bolt-on, so you do not need to do any welding (drilling is required), so a DIY can do the installation. The hitch is compatible with a weight distribution system and also includes the wiring harness with a 4-pin standard connector for plugging into the tail and brake lights.
Although the ratings on Amazon are lower than they should be, the hitch ranks high on many websites and is one of the most popular tow hitches that Curt Mfg makes. Some reviews mentioned the tight fit around the gas tank and the spare tire compartment.
The company is based out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and has distribution centers throughout the US. The company has a solid reputation for building a quality hitch and offers a
One-year warranty on the finish, and it has a lifetime on workmanship or quality.
What We Like
- Lifetime Warranty
- USA made
- Factory Tested
- The Round tube design looks good
- 2-inch receiver tube
- Wiring kit included
What We Dislike
- Nothing we can mention
Stealth Hitches Hidden Rack Receiver W/ Towing Kit
If you own a relatively new Outback (2020 - 23) and want a hidden hitch, consider a product like Stealth Hitches Hidden Rack. The cross-beam is completely concealed under the rear bumper, and if you’re not using it to tow, you can’t tell if it is even there. The receiver and ball mount detaches with no tools and can be stored easily when not in use.
The Stealth Hitch is carbon steel with a black powder coat finish. It is rust-resistant, meets all SAE J684 standards, and installs without drilling or welding needed.
The unit will not affect your foot-motion door activator or create ground clearance issues, so it is perfect for anyone not wanting to mess up their vehicle’s body lines. The kit has a wiring harness and a 4-pin connector for brake and tail lights. The hitch is rated for 3,500 lbs of GTW and 350 lbs of TW, which is slightly less than other comparable hitches.
Stealth Hitches are made in the USA (Sugar Hill, GA) and have made a niche by developing trailer hitches for use with luxury vehicles. The hitches are designed to meet factory specs by owners who didn’t want to sacrifice their luxury car’s value by adding an ugly hitch to the rear of it.
What We Like
- Hidden hitch
- No Drilling or Welding
- USA made
What We Dislike
- Lower gross trailer weight rating
Reese Class III Custom-Fit Hitch
This Reese Towpower hitch is a standard Class III hitch that fits 2020 - 23 Outback Wagons. The trailer hitch offers a solidly welded construction with a strong steel design and a black powder coat finish to prevent corrosion. The unit is rated for 3,500 lbs gross towing weight, and 525 lb tongue weight, although the number pushes close to 6,000/750 when equipped with weight distribution systems.
The hitch is reasonably priced and fairly easy to install. The wiring harness is not included and need to be purchased separately. The Towpower has been thoroughly tested and exceeds all V-5 and SAE J486 safety standards. The Towpower hitch is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, and Reece offers plenty of other options should you need different-size receivers or ball mounts to pull your trailer. They also produced other hitches for different Subaru Outback models. This hitch has large rings for securing a tow hook at 31 pounds. It won’t affect your fuel economy as much as other heavier hitches might.
Reece has a solid reputation in the trailer hitch business, and while their hitches are designed in America, they are manufactured in Mexico. Reece is a part of the Horizon Global family.
What We Like
- Limited Lifetime warranty
- Solid, well-constructed
- Perfect hitch for small utility trailer
What We Didn’t Like
- Not - USA made
Subaru OEM Factory Hitch
While Subaru makes several factory hitches to fit their vehicles, and we felt that they ought to be represented. This Subaru hitch is compatible with the 2020 - 23 Outback, but the factory makes others. For those purists out there, who just can fathom putting anything onto their Outback other than what is factory approved, then this is the hitch for you. The hitch is rated for 3,750 lbs of trailer weight if you have the 2.4L Turbo model (also fits the Wilderness), but if your Outback isn’t turbocharged and only has the naturally aspirated 2.5L, then your towing capacity falls to the average 2,700 lbs.
While even the lower number is more than adequate for towing most utility trailers, bike racks and the like, there is just something about being able to haul heavy loads when you need to, and sometimes the factory stuff just doesn’t cut the mustard.
This Subaru Outback hitch does not have the wiring kit (you will need to order it separately) and is likely the best hitch if you don’t want any future resale value problems. The hitch is a powdered-coated black finish and fits nicely in the Subaru outback wagon’s rear end.
(Owners must be careful since this hitch is incompatible with the Bumper Under Guard system.
In addition, most factory OEM bumpers will require you to have them installed at the dealer. While the workmanship is fine, the dealer can charge you whatever they require to make a profit. The advantage is that your warranty will still be in full effect, whereas in some aftermarket hitches.
What We Like
- Factory OEM product
- No problems with the warranty being-voided
What We Didn’t Like
- May need to have the dealer install