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Old 01-15-2022, 09:53 AM   #1
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Subaru Outback tows better than old sedan

Why do you think it is? My wife's newish Outback with a 3.6 flat-6 motor tows our little Hunter Compact II noticeably smoother than my old Chrysler 300C. The Chrysler has a 5.7 V-8 with 340 hp. I hardly ever exceeded 60 mph towing with the Chrysler. The Outback can comfortably tow at 65 under similar conditions. Why do you think this is? My guess is the shape of the tow vehicles. Wind might bypass more of the frontal area of my square camper while towing with the relatively taller Outback. Maybe?
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:01 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Brian G. View Post
Why do you think it is? My wife's newish Outback with a 3.6 flat-6 motor tows our little Hunter Compact II noticeably smoother than my old Chrysler 300C. The Chrysler has a 5.7 V-8 with 340 hp. I hardly ever exceeded 60 mph towing with the Chrysler. The Outback can comfortably tow at 65 under similar conditions. Why do you think this is? My guess is the shape of the tow vehicles. Wind might bypass more of the frontal area of my square camper while towing with the relatively taller Outback. Maybe?
How are the shocks and the suspension on the Chrysler?
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:21 AM   #3
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What exactly do you mean by "smoother"? Bucking or porpoising could be related to rear suspension stiffness or worn shocks (as Thomas suggests). Swaying could relate to the rear overhang (distance between rear axle center and ball), or even loose or worn suspension and/or steering components (since you mentioned "old"). Excessive gear shifting to maintain speed could relate to aerodynamics and/or transmission gearing/programming. Less likely given your description, but looseness in the hitch/ball mount connections can also cause unpleasant noises and jerkiness (my Pilot clanked and jerked when we first got it after a silky smooth tow on our previous Sienna van, solved with and anti-rattle device). When's the last time you checked your hitch mount bolts?

Your situation is a good case study of why a powerful engine alone does not necessarily make a good tow vehicle.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:21 AM   #4
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The shocks and suspension on the Chrysler are pretty worn-out.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:31 AM   #5
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What exactly do you mean by "smoother"
Good question. Here's what I mean . . . Regardless of vehicle, there is a speed where the trailer begins to rock slightly, side-to-side, on its axle. I've found that this is greatly diminished by adding more weight to the front of the trailer to increase the tongue weight. Pulling with the Chrysler, hardly ever any rocking up to 60 mph in normal Oklahoma wind. With the Outback, 65 or faster with no rocking except in high wind.

Good points about the suspension and shocks. When I say old, the Chrysler is a 2007 and has 233,000 miles.
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:41 AM   #6
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That could also be the trailer. I've heard at least one other Hunter owner describe the rocking condition. What tires and what pressure are you running on the Hunter? My vague recollection is stiffer tires (the trailer had P radials) and higher air pressure stopped the rocking. The softer, worn suspension and longer rear overhang on the Chrysler could be allowing you to feel more of those movements in the tow vehicle.
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Old 01-15-2022, 11:58 AM   #7
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I run on Trailer King steel belted radials. I’ve experimented with air pressures ranging from 35-45. The higher end of that range works better. Just now threw a yardstick up at the distance between rear wheel center hub and receiver and the Chrysler 300 is fairly close to the Outback. I don’t view the towing situation as a problem - but an interesting difference.
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Old 01-17-2022, 07:42 AM   #8
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I'd be careful about too heavy a tongue weight. That can take weight off the front wheels of the TV with resultant loss of steering control.

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Old 01-17-2022, 07:58 AM   #9
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I'd be careful about too heavy a tongue weight. That can take weight off the front wheels of the TV with resultant loss of steering control.

Walt
If you look at Hunters in the "Trailer Weights" database, ten or so, all but one have less than 10% TW. I think the likely risk lies in the other direction: too little tongue weight. The rear galley/storage is the reason. They were designed to carry water forward, but many don't carry water.

For the OP it wouldn't hurt to take your loaded trailer to a CAT scale. Weigh once with only the trailer axle on the scale, once with the whole unhitched trailer on the scale, difference is your tongue weight. There are other ways to get the tongue weight if the scale is busy and there's no time to unhitch. The scale operator will assist.

10-15% of total trailer weight is the recommended range. 12% is a good target. Low tongue weight could be causing small amplitude "tail wagging." It could well translate to a rocking movement because Hunters have a leaf spring suspension.
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Old 01-19-2022, 11:54 AM   #10
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Is the Chrysler front wheel drive? The Subie is AWD. That could be the difference.
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Old 01-19-2022, 12:52 PM   #11
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Is the Chrysler front wheel drive? The Subie is AWD. That could be the difference.
The Chrysler 300 is RWD with available AWD. Outback is FWD biased when slippage is not detected.
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Old 01-19-2022, 04:54 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
For the OP it wouldn't hurt to take your loaded trailer to a CAT scale. Weigh once with only the trailer axle on the scale, once with the whole unhitched trailer on the scale, difference is your tongue weight. There are other ways to get the tongue weight if the scale is busy and there's no time to unhitch. The scale operator will assist.

10-15% of total trailer weight is the recommended range. 12% is a good target. Low tongue weight could be causing small amplitude "tail wagging." It could well translate to a rocking movement because Hunters have a leaf spring suspension.
That Hunter is so light you could use a bathroom scale.
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Old 01-19-2022, 05:55 PM   #13
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Could the trailer rocking and difference in ride be caused by differences in air flow around the trailer, one vehicle may cause a different air flow or turbulence than the other due to body shape of each vehicle.
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Old 01-20-2022, 08:16 AM   #14
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That was the OPís initial guess, and itís certainly possible. No way to really test without a wind tunnel, and not much can be done to change it, so itís worth ruling out other things first.
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Old 01-20-2022, 09:53 AM   #15
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Back when I had a 2008 Outback 2.5 four and a 2004 Dodge Dakota 4.7 V8, I actually preferred towing our 16' Scamp with the Outback. Much smoother ride.
Unfortunately, once I retired and travelled longer distances our Scamp went from 2500 lbs loaded to 3,000 lbs loaded so I could no longer use the Outback for towing it due to the 2700/200 weight limits (realistically 2,500 should be the max weight based on Subaru recommended minimum 8% tongue weight, anything over 2,500 lbs would exceed that)
Nice to see that newer Outbacks (2020-current) have a higher tongue weight limit, either 2700/270 or 3500/350.
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Old 01-20-2022, 04:38 PM   #16
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My Transit Connect is a near perfect Aero match for my Scamp13D.
As a result it does a much better job of towing, very stable and gets better mileage than what might be expected from a 2.5L 4CYL.
(Mid 20s MPG @ 60MPH)

Plus it has a 1500 pound payload which is better than most regular cars.

So yes it is possible that your Subaru Tows better than your 300.
There is more to towing than engine size, partly why there is no hitch on my Mustang 5.0.
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