Towing with the 2.0-liter FB20B motor

Discussion in 'General Subaru Discussion' started by SubieNoobie, May 16, 2019.

  1. SubieNoobie
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    SubieNoobie Active Member

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    I'm in the market for a new Subaru. I've been towing an open motorcycle trailer with a 2005 9-2X (2.5 liter, 5-speed) and am really happy with how it performs. The trailer with bikes currently weighs 1011 pounds (and that's my max expected payload). However, I have towed up to about ~1500 pounds with that configuration comfortably.

    Am interested in buying a ~2016 Impreza wagon. Subaru does not recommend towing with that car, however the Crosstrek (also with a 2.0 liter motor) is rated to tow 1500 pounds. I have had manual gearboxes, exclusively, for the past 45 years, but am seriously considering getting the CVT for a variety of reasons (just drove one and found it acceptable).

    I called etrailer.com, explained my situation, and asked why the Crosstrek has a towing rating but the Impreza does not. The reply was that it's nothing structural, and about 50% of the time it's suspension related. Given that the engine, transmission and final drive ratio is the same, suspension seems plausible. If it's just a matter of putting stiffer springs in the rear, that seems easy enough to accomplish.

    It also occurs to me that a CVT might actually be preferable for towing in hilly areas as you'd always be in the exactly the right gear.

    I'm somewhat concerned that the 2.0 liter motor makes about 14% less peak torque and 8% less peak power than my old 2.5 (but the final drive ratio is different as well and I've yet to do a thorough analysis).

    Anyone with experience, thoughts or opinions? TIA.

    P.S. I also tested a Forester and that's not the vehicle for me.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  2. curly2k3
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    curly2k3 Well-Known Member

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    "CVT might actually be preferable for towing in hilly areas as you'd always be in the exactly the right gear."

    I lol'd a little.

    I assume you're specifically looking older and wagon only? What about a Legacy?
     
  3. SubieNoobie
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    SubieNoobie Active Member

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    2016 is about the right price point as there are lots of lease returns.

    Wagon works really well for hauling other motorcycle-related gear.
     
  4. curly2k3
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    curly2k3 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, so what price point are you trying to hit? Again, what about a Legacy?
     
  5. SubieNoobie
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    SubieNoobie Active Member

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    No interest in a Legacy (or anything that does not have a "J" as the first character of the VIN). Don't have a specific price in mind -- just a good value for any car I would buy. Also, I never buy new.
     
  6. curly2k3
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    curly2k3 Well-Known Member

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    So basically, a Japanese, Impreza based something, any price, mileage, trim, etc... as long as it isn't new.

    At least that narrows it down to an Impreza (some are still made in America, IIRC), Crosstrek (again, I believe some are made in America), WRX, or STI.
     
  7. pillboy
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    pillboy Well-Known Member

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    I would assume any remaining powertrain warranty would be voided if you are towing with a vehicle that the manufacturer states in the manual it should not be used to tow. I would also be leery of changing springs on just one end of a vehicle and how it could affect handling in an emergency situation. But I'm not an automotive engineer, so what do I know.
     
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  8. SubieNoobie
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    SubieNoobie Active Member

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    I guess I have not made myself clear. All I'm really asking is if anyone has experience towing with the 2.0-liter normal aspirated FB20B motor (84mm bore, 90mm stroke) and if the CVT would be an advantage or disadvantage for towing versus a manual gearbox.
     
  9. Squiggly
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    Squiggly Squiggly

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    No experience towing but man my old 17 Impreza 5 spd struggled in the mountains. I can't imagine pulling a trailer being much better, the CVT may have helped with the extra ratios... FYI 17 and newer Imprezas are assembled in Indiana, anything older will be a J on the vin. The Forester might be your best bet, more space, rated for towing 1500 lbs, assembled in Japan. May I ask why you don't want a car assembled in Indiana?

    Mike
     
  10. SubieNoobie
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    SubieNoobie Active Member

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    That's a fair question, but I'm sure my answer will start a flame war, so I'll only say this and nothing more. Below is a quote from a book by David Packard (one of the founders of Hewlett-Packard) titled The HP Way. Some context... in 1963 HP formed a joint venture with Yokogawa in Japan called YHP.

    "Here is a example of what YHP was able to do. We had been making printed circuit boards in various parts of the company. Our best failure rates were about four in a thousand. We thought that was pretty good -- a little less than 0.5 percent. And that was the rate we found a lot of other companies were achieving. Our Japanese unit, on the other hand, came in with a failure rate on its printed circuit boards of only ten per million. That's four hundred times better than anything we had been able to do. ...gains in quality had come from meticulous attention to detail.

    ...every step in the manufacturing process must be done as carefully as possible, not as quickly as possible.

    I had often seen the people in our operation in YHP spend considerable time making sure that every adjustment was done as accurately as possible. The same adjustments were done at HP in Palo Alto just as quickly as possible to get them just barely within the limits specified."

    David Packard believed this came about because the people in Palo Alto were on profit sharing, and the people in Japan were not. I think it's a cultural thing.
     
  11. curly2k3
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    curly2k3 Well-Known Member

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    Good to see HP in Japan was so much more modern for production that HP in America in 1963.

    I'm willing to bet money you couldn't tell a damn bit of difference between the two builds unless you specifically looked at the VINs.
     
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  12. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    “If it has all four tires and gets you from point A to point B then it's a car”
    - Takumi Fujiwara

    “Looks like your ordinary piece of crap from the outside, but whoever's behind the wheel is a demon.”
    - Keisuke Takashi

    I think these two quotes are just as relevant as yours lol.

    Subaru is still a Japanese company with the same manufacturing and quality systems regardless where they are manufacturing. If the quality of your product is dependent on the "care" and meticulousness of the assembly workers, then you don't have a very good quality system! lol
    Good vs bad employees should only affect the defect/reject rate and affect the profitability of the production line, not the quality of the final product. Assembly line workers should be (and are) completely replaceable and low skill. The "magic" to Japanese manufacturing quality is in the process and continuous improvement.
    Not to mention so much of car assembly now is automated and components are subcontracted with global supply chains, it really doesn't matter where it is made (though it definitely matters what company makes it and the systems that are in place).
     
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  13. pillboy
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    pillboy Well-Known Member

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    I have been under the impression that an automatic is always better than a manual for towing since the automatic is designed to slip when starting from a stop whereas slipping the clutch is to get moving is not a good thing. So to answer your question, IF the manufacturer states that it is OK to tow with the CVT it stands to reason that it would be better to tow with that than a manual.
     
  14. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    The problem with the torque converter slipping is it heats the **** out of the transmission fluid so generally besides suspension to take the tongue weight and brakes to stop the extra load, the most important thing for towing is the Trans cooler.
    That is less of an issue with a manual but yeah you wear the clutch more.

    As far as I know, the subaru CVT is not serviceable so you can’t change the Trans fluids. I for sure wouldn’t tow with one unless it was specifically rated for it by Subaru.
     
  15. sneefy
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    sneefy Well-Known Member

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    CVT fluid can be changed but it's expensive fluid and an involved process best left to the dealer. 'Severe' use cases have a recommended change interval whereas 'normal' use does not.

    Consensus on the Forester forums is that on current-gen Foresters the difference in towing capacity numbers between the US and elsewhere is at least partly due to other markets getting a transmission cooler stock where US Foresters do not. Hence rated towing capacity here being lower. This would support nhibbs's point.

    As far as Japanese made cars vs elsewhere, it depends. The early 3rd gen Honda Fit, for example, was made in a new plant in Mexico for the North American market. They had numerous problems from leaking seams, ill-fitting panels, bad paint etc. The Japanese-made Fits of the same year did not have these problems. Honda shut down the Mexico plant for over a year while they fixed the issues. I'm guessing much of it was training related as the processes should have been the same among the many Fit plants around the world.

    That's an isolated example. Mexican-made VW Golfs are fine. American-made CRVs and Imprezas are fine.

    But different cultures do often have different attitudes about work and the amount of pride one takes in one's work. The Japanese have a culture of taking care and pride in their work that is stronger than the US. So different results can occur when the human element has not yet been replaced by a robot. So the OP's point is valid, but becoming less so as more of car manufacturing is automated.
     
  16. STi_From_DSM
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    STi_From_DSM Active Member

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    Putting a trailer hitch on a car should be illegal, lol. BUT, you have a wagon right now so that doesn't apply. From my experience going from a manual for 15 years to an auto, I hated it. Even though it was a sweet ride, it was not engaging to drive. You have driven a manual for a lot longer. I would stick with it. You say your vehicle now is capable of towing what you need. Why change? Considering any of the older Legacy's? Older GT models have the better 2.5 from the WRX. I do not know if they are offered in a manual, but could be worth checking into?
     
  17. Kneel Weiß
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    Kneel Weiß FUMP BDI Staff Member

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    Google says the Crosstrek can pull 1500lbs. In a small SUV I say stick with a manual. I will also say, having driven it's sister motor, that you will not enjoy towing anything with that.

    My .02, go buy a $5k truck and save the heartache.
     

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