A trailer hitch can be an exceptionally useful item to add to any vehicle, whether used for towing, a bike carrier, or an off-road recovery point. While at Overland Expo PNW, I ran across a company called Torklift. They were displaying a Subaru Crosstrek with their EcoHitch installed. As the owner of a 2022 Crosstrek, I wanted to know more.
The representative at the show told me the hitches were made from 100% recycled or recyclable materials and the company was based in Washington State. Hey, that’s cool. However, He went on to tell me the receiver is removable when not in use, and that’s when my curiosity was piqued.
Who isTorklift and What’s an EcoHitch?
Torklift has been in business since 1976, is based in Kent, WA, and has been offering hitches for many years. The company’s EcoHitch line started in 2011 when the company started to see a need for hitches for PZEV (partial zero emissions vehicles) and hybrids.
Since then, they have added many makes and models to their catalog, including a range of crossover and SUV applications.
While the EcoHitch’s recycled and recyclable material content is a commendable feature, the hitch’s real talent is that ability to hide out of sight when not in use. There are three EcoHitch styles: Hidden (only the receiver hangs below the bumper), Stealth (the hitch’s receiver portion is removable), and Invisi (hitch is located behind a panel or license plate).
The Subaru Crosstrek variant is a Stealth series model with either a 1-1/4” or 2” receiver. To remove the receiver, you simply unscrew the 5/8” bolt, drop the receiver, and the rest of the hitch is totally concealed. Not only does this provide a super clean look, but it also won’t impede departure angles when off-roading.
The EcoHitch is engineered to meet SAE J684 towing safety standards, carries a lifetime warranty, and is made in the USA. The hitch is rated at a525 lb. tongue weight at the trailer ball and 3,500 lbs. towing capacity—2,000 lbs. more than the car is rated for. Remember to follow the auto manufacturer’s ratings for towing. Just because the hitch is rated at 3,500 lbs. doesn’t mean your car is.
Installing the EcoHitch
I decided to give the EcoHitch a shot and installed one onto my ’22 Subaru Crosstrek Premium. On the 2018–2023 Crosstrek, installation is straightforward. You don’t have to remove the bumper, there’s no cutting, and no welding.
Plus, it only weighs 43 lbs. The powder-coated hitch and receiver and poly-bagged fasteners are all well packaged and arrived damage-free—something I can’t say for other hitch manufacturers I’ve used. So far, things are off to a good start.
The first step for installation was to back the car onto ramps for added room to work. Next, I pulled off my muffler by unbolting the two bolts at the flange and slid it off the rubber hangers. I run a Nameless Performance Executive Axleback muffler and was told by Nameless the EcoHitch was compatible with their muffler. (Spoiler: it is.) With the muffler off, it’s time to install the hitch’s mounting bolts.
The hitch attaches using four ½” hex screws, internal washers, and plate washers that will get placed into the car’s frame. Torklift includes a ½” bolt fisher wire allowing you to put the hardware into the car’s frame without removing the bumper.
Simply remove the rubber plugs in the chassis and fish the wire through with the components in tow. Pull everything through and, rather amazingly, everything lines up and drops down from above. You’ll have to do this four times to get the hardware in place, but it works well.
Next up, using a buddy, or in my case, my wife and a floor jack, position the hitch so the bolts you just installed go through the holes in the hitch. You’ll use two ½” washers per bolt, a lock washer, and a ½” hex nut to secure. Honestly, this was the hardest part, but it wasn’t very difficult. One of the bolts didn’t want to seat and kept spinning in place. With a little finessing, they all became tight. Torque the nuts to 75 ft/lbs.
Finally, position the 2” receiver into the vertical square-tube in the hitch. Take the 5/8” hex bolt, lock washer, and 5/8” washer, and run it through the hole in the receiver. On the other side is a welded nut to receive the bolt. Torque it to 112 ft/lbs. and you’re done. All that’s left to do is reinstall the muffler.
The first thing I did was check if there was play in the removable receiver—there isn’t. It’s tightly secured in place and isn’t going anywhere. If you wanted to get hyper critical, you could say the receiver hangs down a bit lower than it might need to. Frankly, this is splitting hairs since if you’re not actually using it, simply take it off. And the hitch is truly invisible when the receiver isn’t installed.
I installed trailer wiring into the Crosstrek at this time; it’s simply a plug-and-play affair, sans tucking the wiring and control box away. After the wiring was complete, I gave the new hitch a shake down by attaching our ball mount and hitching up our Dinoot camp trailer to the car.
Admittedly, the trailer is on 31x10.50 tires and has been lifted to pull behind our 4x4s. So, the tongue was pointed down a bit, but it’s still drivable. (I’ll need to get a ball mount with more rise for the Crosstrek.) Once hooked up, I hit the road. Happily, everything worked perfectly.
Not Just For Towing
Towing was only one reason to install the EcoHitch. The other was so we could use it as a dedicated recovery point. Simply toss your shackle receiver bracket into it, such as our Factor 55 HitchLink 2.0, secure it with a hitch pin, and you now have a great recovery point. So if our Subie gets stuck in the snow, sand, or mud, we’ll have a great recovery point. Of course, having a 2” receiver also means we could carry a host of other accessories, such as bike racks, cargo racks, or other versatile extras. For those who don’t need a 2” receiver, EcoHitch offers a 1-1/4” option as well.
A hitch is such a simple, versatile way to add accessories and a recovery point. All my vehicles have a hitch now, and our Subaru is even more ready to take us on adventures.
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