How much can I tow with the 2021 Subaru Forester?

MY21 Subaru Forester 2.5i Sport (overseas model shown)

The non-hybrid 2021 Subaru Forester has just had a towing increase, we crunch the numbers on towing and payload.

This week, Subaru announced the release of the Forester 2.5i Sport which will lob into dealerships in October. At the same time, it announced all non-hybrid Foresters would receive a towing increase of 300kg to 1800kg. Hybrid models stick with their maximum braked towing capacity of 1200kg.

And for those who are looking for a rugged soft-roader with the ability to tow this is good news indeed. And Subaru is to be commended for the change it made to beef up towing and that, Subaru told MotoFomo was thanks to improvements to cooling.

“A larger fan was fitted which improved cooling by more than 20%,” a Subaru spokesperson told us. “This meant that everything from engine to transmission cooling was improved allowing Forester’s towing capacity to be increased … structurally the vehicle was always able to handle the heavier load”.

So, let’s start looking at some of the numbers for the 2021 Subaru Forester (non-hybrid). As stated, the new maximum braked towing capacity is 1800kg. Good. And the maximum towball download capacity is the expected 10%, or 180kg. Great.

But it gets better and Subaru is to be commended because the Forester’s GVM (the heaviest the vehicle can weigh) has stayed at 2223kg with the GCM (Gross Combined Mass) adding the maximum braked towing capacity on top of that, so, 2223kg plus 1800kg equals GCM of 4023kg.

Let’s go a bit deeper with the numbers. Now, Subaru hasn’t released full specifications for the 2021 model so we’ll work with the Tare weight of the current 2.5i-L variant which is 1522kg. So, to work out our payload, we subtract the tare weight from our GVM, and that is 2223kg minus 1522kg equals 701kg. This is impressive and more than enough for a family of four and all their gear. Of course, if you’re adding things like a roof rack, awning or driving lights to your Forester then you’ll need to take that into account when determining your ultimate payload.

Now, let’s look at the numbers when we’re towing. As stated earlier, Subaru’s done the right thing by maintaining the existing GVM and increasing the GCM by the new maximum braked towing capacity. Plenty of car makers would have simply lopped the additional 300kg in towing capacity from the vehicle’s payload and left the GCM as it was.

So, say we’re towing a trailer weighing the full 1800kg. This means there will be 180kg of towball download. We’ve already listed the GCM of 4023kg, so we know that the Forester can be at maximum GVM when towing its maximum capacity. But what does it do for our payload. Well, with 701kg of payload capacity, we’ll need to reduce that by 180kg to account for the towball download, leaving us with 521kg. This is still enough for four people and luggage.

Subaru is to be commended for its towing improvements to Forester. Stay tuned for more articles like this from MotoFomo.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.


  1. Hi Isaac, love your articles.
    I have a Jayco Starcraft Outback van with an Alko off road hitch. I understand that the standard Forester towbar has a gooseneck ball. Will Subaru allow me to fit a third party towbar without invalidating the warranty?

    • Hi Tony, thanks for that. I’ve checked in with Subaru today and they’ve told me that, “As long as it’s within factory recommended parameters laid out on the owner’s handbook, that’s fine”. Hope that helps. Cheers Isaac

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