Video: The Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Crosstrek Take on the World’s TOUGHEST Towing Test!

How did the cars do in this 'Tike Ike'?

Video: The Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Crosstrek Take on the World's TOUGHEST Towing Test!
Image: TFLcar

The Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Crosstrek take on our third episode of the Tike Ike towing series – and the results are interesting.

Just like our past Tike Ike episodes, like the Volkswagen ID.4 EV, we send a Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Crosstrek up and over the Rocky Mountains. This is one of the most difficult towing tests out there. Our Ike Gauntlet series on is recognized worldwide as a “must see” for serious towing. The Tike Ike is pretty much the same thing, only with smaller vehicles that are (usually) car-based crossovers.

Here’s how it worked in this video. Roman and Andre take the Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Crosstrek and hook up a 1,500-pound teardrop trailer (built by Colorado Teardrops). Each vehicle takes on the highway pulling the trailer up and over 11,000 feet. The seven-percent grade, mixed in with high elevation, can make pulling even a modest camper a challenge.

How did the Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Crosstrek do?

Keep in mind, we absolutely maxed out our Subaru Crosstrek. Equipped with a base 2.0-liter boxer engine, it puts out 152 horsepower. That’s not a lot, and there are more powerful options from Subaru; however, this setup with the 2.0 with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is their volume seller. Still, Subaru says it can pull up to 1,500 pounds.

But there’s a problem.

Our Crosstrek is rated at 1,500 pounds with a trailer brake controller system. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a trailer brake controller. As such, Subaru says our vehicle has a 1,000-pound max rating. We opted to stay safe and not do our downhill portion because of the brakes. Still, we did manage to do the uphill run.

One of the interesting tidbits about Subarus is the fact that their owners are more enthusiastic to tow with their cars than many other automakers. It’s all part of their image of adventure/outdoor love that appeals to consumers. We need to know, can their least powerful power-plant tow as advertised?

What about the 4Runner?

It surprised all of us, but not in a good way. Sure, it can pull up to 5,000 pounds, but it’s not a “tow vehicle” per se. Sporting 270-hp 4.0-liter with a 5-speed automatic transmission, the 4Runner has one of the oldest powertrains sold in the United States. Our tester is a fully loaded TRD Pro, which is even heavier than the base model. On top of that, it has chunky off-road mud-terrain tires. All of that can hurt what performance the 4Runner can manage on the road, especially at altitude.

While the 4Runner seemed unhappy with its gear hunting and shouty engine note, it did remarkably well with its time and its efficiency. We think a truck-based SUV should have a standard brake controller, and this one doesn’t have it. Still, pulling 1,500 lbs over the Tike Ike was no biggie for the old 4Runner.

Check out this video, because the results between these two vehicles might surprise you!