Best Subaru forester trailer hitch for bike and cargo rack

Published by Bike Scientist on

Purchasing a Subaru Forester trailer hitch can be a bit confusing because of the low towing capacity of this vehicle. There are class 1, 2, and 3 Subaru trailer hitches in the market that are designed for different models of Forester. But would they be right for your specific requirements?

In this buyer’s guide, we have compared the best hitches for Subaru Forester including the OEM hitch. This comparison would help you pick the right hitch depending on your budget, installation experience, quality, and compatibility with different Forester models. We have also discussed the towing capacity of different models along with the installation of a hitch on Forester. 

Best Subaru Forester Trailer Hitch Comparison

PRODUCTOEM 134091203837587644705
YEAR2014 – 20182019-20221998-20082014 – 20182014 – 2018
HITCH OPENING1 ¼”2”1 ¼”2”2”
GROSS TRAILER WEIGHT1,500 lbs.3,500 lbs.3,500 lbs.3,500 lbs.8,000 lbs.
WEIGHT IN POUNDS34.4 lbs.‎33.6 lbs.‎35 lbs.‎33 lbs.
RATING 95%85%94%97%

Subaru Forester factory trailer hitch|Superior look with extra ground clearance

OEM hitches beat the other trailer hitches in terms of ease of installation, ground clearance, and aesthetics. Thus the OEM trailer hitch would be the perfect fit for your Forester. It is compatible only with 2014 – 2018 models but once installed it would exactly like a part of the vehicle and would not appear as a separate unit.

It is a class 1 Subaru trailer hitch with a 1 ¼ inches receiver opening. This makes it suitable for many hitch bike racks and small carriers. You can use it to tow 1,500 Lbs. The hitch attaches right behind the bumper which gives a good ground clearance as compared to other hitches that hang lower.

Moreover, the pre-drilled holes on this Subaru Forester trailer hitch align perfectly with the vehicle so installation would be very simple and quick. The only issue is with the expense. At $350 this hitch is expensive compared to other hitches mentioned in this review. And you will have to buy the harness kits separately which would cost you an additional $88-$100. 

Subaru Trailer Hitch

CURT 13409|Economical Class 3 Subaru trailer hitch

Most of the trailer hitches available in the market can be expensive. So if you are on a limited budget, we recommend the CURT 13409 hitch. You can buy it for around $170 and if you are able to install the hitch all by yourself, you can save the installation cost as well. 

This hitch works for the 2019-2022 models and has a 2” receiver. It is a class 3 hitch so it would allow you to tow up to 3,500 lbs but you have to be careful with the towing limit of the Subaru Forester. Only Wilderness models have a towing capacity of up to 3000 lbs. while the rest of the models have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs.

Installation requires some modification because the holes in Forester are not wide enough so you will require a drill. Also, it is better if you have help because it’s a two-person job if you do not have a jack. After enlarging the holes, the procedure is quite clear so you can easily align the Subaru Forester trailer hitch with the vehicle. 

CURT 13409

CURT 120383|Best hitch for older models of Subaru Forester

If you own 1998-2008 models of Forester, this CURT 120383 hitch would be the best option. installation of this Subaru trailer hitch can be a bit tricky if you do not have much experience but many videos could be helpful. However, once it is installed, it is quite sturdy and would do a great job. 

This Forester hitch has bolts for holes that perfectly align with the vehicle but the trailer has to be flexed a bit for this alignment. So aligning the holes requires some effort. Moreover, the instructions regarding exhaust hanger remounting can be confusing for newbies. You can get this Class 2 hitch with a 1 ¼” receiver at around $170.

Overall, the quality of this Subaru Forester trailer hitch is impressive. It fits perfectly under the rear of the car, maintains the ground clearance like an OEM hitch, and looks good too. Many customers have used it for the installation of hitch bike racks on their Subaru Forester. 

CURT 120383

Draw-Tite 75876 Subaru trailer hitch

The Draw-Tite 75876 hitch is a sturdy good quality product. It can be used for towing light carriers, utility trailers, snowmobile trailers, and for carrying bikes after the installation of hitch bike racks. This hitch like others has its ups and downs as well. 

Well, the good thing about this Subaru trailer hitch is that the instructions that come along are quite clear and easy to understand. It also comes with all the hardware that is required for its installation. But if you want to install it without hiring a professional, it would be a two-person job and can take an hour or more. 

The most tricky part is the removal of the muffler once you do that the process would get easier. Also, the installation would be way easier if you can lift the vehicle. This hitch would cost you around $180 and it is compatible with 2014 – 2018 models. 

Draw-Tite 75876

Reese Towpower 44705 Subaru Forester trailer hitch

Reese 44705 Subaru trailer hitch is a bit more expensive than the CURT and Draw-Tite hitches but it still costs less than the OEM hitch. The reason we have picked it among the best 5 hitches for Forester is the high customer satisfaction. This hitch is liked by 97% of the users according to Amazon ratings. 

This class 3 hitch has an impressive gross towing weight but since it is compatible with 2014 – 2018 Forester models, you have to be careful while towing. Make sure you are towing according to the towing capacity of the Forester model you own. It is loved by users for its quality, ease of installation, and the perfect fitting for the Subaru Forester. 

Reese Towpower 44705

Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

What Is The Tow Capacity Of A Subaru Forester

The towing capacity of the Subaru Forester ranges from 1500 lbs. to 3000 lbs. depending on the model of the vehicle. 

Why Is The Tow Capacity On The Subaru Forester So Low

Although Forester does not have a high towing capacity, it does the towing job well within the limits mentioned by the manufacturers. The all-wheel drive makes towing more smooth and the vehicle is easy to control. Moreover, the high-quality brakes also aid in easier towing. This low towing ability helps save gas so the vehicle is good for people that do not have to haul heavier objects. 

2023 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

The 2023 Subaru Forester has the six models mentioned in the table below. The towing capacity varies from 1500-3000 lbs.

Subaru Forester modelsTowing capacity
Base1500 lbs. 
Premium1500 lbs. 
Sport1500 lbs. 
Wilderness3000 lbs. 
Limited1500 lbs. 
Touring1500 lbs. 

2022 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

The 2022 Subaru Forester has the same models and the same towing capacity as 2023. Wilderness has a towing capacity of 3000 lbs. while the rest of the models can tow only 1500 lbs. 

2021 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

All 2021 models of Subaru Forester have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. 

2020 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

All 2020 models of Subaru Forester have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. 

2017 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

All 2017 models of Subaru Forester have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. 

2010 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

The 2010 Subaru Forester models i.e., 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5XT Premium, and 2.5XT Limited have a towing capacity of 2,400 lbs. 

2014 Subaru Forester Tow Capacity

All 2014 Subaru Foresters including 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.0XT Premium, 2.5i Touring, and 2.0XT Touring have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. 

How To Install a Trailer Hitch Subaru Forester?

Tools required to install a Subaru Forester trailer hitch

  • Safety glasses
  • Drill 
  • Exhaust removal pliers 
  • Soapy water 
  • Torque wrench 
  • Straps 
  • Socket 

Steps for installing a Trailer Hitch Subaru Forester

First, prepare the vehicle for installation of the Forester hitch. You can follow the steps below.

Step 1: Remove exhaust:

Remove the rubber hangers that hold the exhaust. For that, first, use straps to tie the exhaust so it does not fall and break when you remove the rubber hangers. Removing these hangers is not easy so you will have to use a lubricant or soapy water to make it easier to slide out. After spraying that, just use the exhaust removal pliers to take them off. 

Step 2: Remove heat shield:

Remove the heat shield by removing the 4 screws that hold it in place. You can use a socket for this step. 

Step 3: Remove the underbody panel:

Remove the pushpins by using a screwdriver and screws by the socket. 

Step 4: Enlarge the holes for the installation of bolts:

Use a drill to enlarge the holes according to the size of the hardware provided with the Subaru trailer hitch. 

Step 5: Raise the Subaru Forester trailer hitch to the vehicle:

You would require the help of a second person because the hitch is heavier. Remove the fish wires and install the nuts. Tighten and torque the bolts to secure the hitch on the vehicle. 

Step 6: Install the exhaust and underbody panel:

Spray with soapy water and install rubber hangers for the exhaust. 

How Long Does It Take To Install A Trailer Hitch On 2019 Subaru Forester Sport

It can take as less as 45 minutes or as long as 2 hours depending on your expertise. 

FAQs for Subaru Forester trailer hitch

What class trailer hitch should I get for Subaru Forester?

For Forester Wilderness and other models with 3500 lbs. towing capacity, you should get a class 2 or 3 hitch, while for the models that have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs. a class 1 hitch would be fine. 

What is the maximum trailer hitch class for 2015 Subaru Forester?

The maximum towing capacity of the 2015 Subaru Forester is 1500 lbs. so you can use a class 1 or class 2 Subaru trailer hitch. 

Where can I buy a trailer hitch for Subaru Forester?

You can either buy the OEM hitch from Subaru online or visit their store. Otherwise, you can go for CURT, Draw-Tite, or Reese Subaru Forester trailer hitches. 

What trailer hitch will fit 2002 Subaru Forester?

CURT 120383 is a class 2 hitch that works for 1998-2008 Subaru Forester models. 

What hitch harness should I buy for Subaru Forester with trailer brakes?

You should get the Trailer Hitch Harness(Turbo) from Subaru. This part is numbered H771SSG100.

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Bike Scientist

S Chaudhry is the founder and the first writer for BikesRacks. He covers almost all the bike reviews after doing a lot of secondary and primary (hands on) research on the products. Apart from that he is the author of a number of how to do articles as well on the website. He is an avid road bike cyclists who is dealing in a lot of areas related to biking. Currently he has gained experience fixing bikes to retailing accessories related to them as well. His eventual goal is to build an authority site on cycling and also become a profession bike fitter.