Should I buy a Hyundai Santa Fe or Subaru Outback?

2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R


You highly recommend the Hyundai Santa Fe which I am interested in for towing a boat weighing about 1500kg.

The specifications say the Hyundai Santa Fe automatic will tow up to 2000kg but the maximum towball weight limit is 100kg. With the usual recommended 10% of trailer weight on the towball, how does a 100kg limit make any sense against the claimed towing capacity?

My other choice is a Subaru Outback 3.6R. Do you have any negatives about the Subaru which sells for about the same price as the Santa Fe?
- Thanks, Alan


General information about Towing and Load Limits for SUVs and Utes >> plus a detailed report on Santa Fe Towing Capacity >>

Taking your points in order:

Towball Download

Australia has an intellectually retarded attitude to towball downloads. The rest of the world, predominately, tows successfully with 5 per cent download (50kg per tonne of trailer GVM), and I don’t see trailers spearing off the road everywhere else but here. That’s how it makes sense. It’s not the manufacturers out of step; it’s us.

Hyundai’s genuine load assist kit for Santa Fe increases the maximum download to 150kg - which would be just right for your boat.

Subaru 'Negatives'

Subaru has a CVT - continuously variable transmission. I'm not sure about its durability, especially towing frequently with it, at or near the vehicle's towing limit (1800kg). Subaru has done a good job making a lot of improvements to the way the CVT drives, compared with other manufacturers, but it's a very new vehicle so durability is impossible to assess. Other manufacturers - notably Nissan - have had a shocking run with CVT reliability, but there is no apparent relationship between the Jatco-built Nissan CVT transmissions and Subaru's version of CVT.

Petrol engine in Subaru Outback makes less low-rpm power than the Santa Fe diesel. A lot less. At 2000rpm, Santa Fe diesel will be making something like two or three times more power. That’s very useful for towing. The difference in performance at those sorts of low revs one conventionally drives at will be profound. Outback will be better for setting the lap record (of course, you would best de-couple the boat for this).

Some other factors to consider

Subaru Outback 3.6R
$47,990 (rrp)

2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R
  • 3yr/unlimited kilometre warranty
  • 6mth/12,500km service interval
  • 1yr roadside assist
  • Full-sized alloy spare
  • 1800kg maximum tow capacity
  • Has EyeSight advanced optical crash prevention system
  • CVT
  • Seats five

Hyundai Santa Fe Elite
$48,490 (rrp)

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • 5yr/unlimited kilometre warranty
  • 12mth/15,000km service interval
  • 10yrs roadside assist
  • Full-sized alloy spare
  • 2000kg maximum tow capacity
  • Lacks comparable advanced active safety features
  • Conventional auto transmission
  • Seats seven

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