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The Subaru Crosstrek Can Tow, No matter What Hobo Johnson’s Dad Says

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Crosstrek Can tow things - Subaru
This car can tow. Hobo Johnson’s Dad is a lier
Photo: Subaru

Last Friday, I published an article discussing indie musician Hobo Johnson’s seemingly obsessive relationship with his Subaru Crosstrek XV. During the piece, I quoted the closing passage of the song he wrote about his beloved compact SUV:

“Have you heard about the new Subaru Crosstrek with the new suspension package?
If you buy one you’ll be riding smooth in no time
It also came with a trailer hitch, but
It’s only four-cylinder so you probably shouldn’t tow anything
My dad said that messes up the transmission”

Having never personally driven a Subaru Crosstrek, but having done a thorough amount of research, I take umbrage with the idea that a four-cylinder SUV can’t tow “anything” without screwing up its transmission.

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To begin with, to the best of my knowledge, no Subaru Crosstrek has ever come with a factory-installed trailer hitch. After several viewings of Hobo Johnson’s endearingly corny music video for his song Subaru Crosstrek XV, I cannot spot a trailer hookup. Even so, there are dozens of aftermarket hitch installation options, and the vehicle is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds. I’m no mathematician; I’m naught but a humble writer. Even with my subpar calculative skills, I feel confident in saying that 1,500 pounds is roughly 1,500 pounds more than nothing.

Nit-picking aside, there is no reason to assume that a four-cylinder engine is incapable of pulling a trailer efficiently. There are several factors that can influence the impact of towing on a four-cylinder vehicle’s performance.

While I have no idea what model year of Crosstrek the good Mr. Johnson has channeled into his lyrics, I’ve done a fair amount of research on the 2019 variant. Each trim comes standard with a two-liter, four-cylinder Subaru Boxer® engine. However, every trim comes with the choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

The distinction can be important. CVTs are an optimized version of a standard automatic transmission that replace separate gears with, theoretically, an infinite number of “gears” based on a pair of dynamic alternating pulleys. Manual transmissions, while frequently less fuel-efficient, offer greater control over your vehicle and its cargo. This is why many freight-trucks still rely on manual transmissions.

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Even if Johnson’s Crosstrek is equipped with a CVT (I hope you’ll forgive me for assuming it might be, considering the singer is only 24 years old), his Crosstrek should be more than capable of towing anything up to the vehicle’s limit. In fact, the only major red flags drivers of four-cylinder automatic vehicles really need to consider when pulling a trailer are rapid acceleration, rapid braking, or the pull of gravity when on an incline.

In short, if you have a Subaru Crosstrek, you’re safe to tow anything up to 1,500 pounds, no matter what Hobo Johnson’s dad says.