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Toyota Highlander Accessories and Modifications



  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    I've a 2006 Hybrid Highlander (HH) as well. I just put on the Toyota hitch after comparing it to the aftermarket hitches available. I was able to get it from my local dealer for $247 with a 10% discount. I called around and that seems to be about as good as it gets on price. I did find a dealer in Texas that would ship for about the same $$$. There is zero difference between the HH and the 2005 Highlander when it comes to the hitch or towing. Both use the same Toyota part number, and the tow ratings are identical. If Toyota was worried about the transmission, they would have reduced the tow capacity rating on the HH. If your Highlander has the tow prep package, you should be in good shape. Since the CVT is integral the the Hybrid drive system, I believe it may be covered under the 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.

    The aftermarket makers haven't updated their catalogs yet, so the retailers don't know what to say, but I found one salesman who called around and got word from the manufacturers that the '05 units were fine on the '06.

    I decided to go with the Toyota because the aftermarket hitches are all coyote ugly and Toyota's is merely homely. The key difference being how they deal with the muffler. Toyota's hitch bent the right support tube around it, while the aftermarket folks hang a big U-bracket under the tail pipe (except for the square tube models, which I found to look even worse). Before the 2004 model (when Toyota started hanging the full size spare under the cargo area), the aftermarket hitches used an inverted U-bracket and the hitch frame could sit back further and high, so most of it was hidden by the bumper. It looks like they flipped it and made it larger to deal with the spare tire issue.

    Beyond looks, the Toyota hitch has two advantages: First, it has a more secure mounting arrangement than any of the aftermarket hitches I looked at. Toyota includes two plates that mount to the side of the frame rails in addition to the bottom mounts that the aftermarket uses. This strengthens the frame in the attachment area, provides lateral stability and four more bolts connecting the hitch to the frame. Second, it comes with a mounted wiring harness that will plug into the 4 wire connector that's waiting for it under the left rear floor compartment (assuming you have the two prep package). You'll still need a converter box to completely tie in to the trailer light circuits. This can be found online for under $60.

    I found no hint of trailer wiring in any of the aftermarket instructions that I looked at, so you're looking at either buying an aftermarket wiring solution or buying the wiring harness (around $50 from what I've read) and converter separately from Toyota. The converter installation instructions for the 2005 Highlander include the Hybrid. The decent aftermarket wiring solutions seem to cost at least $45 or more, so I tend towards the Toyota solution for the safety of my wiring harness.

    As far as price goes, the way I figured it, the Toyota hitch costs $80 more than the best price with delivery that I could find on an aftermarket hitch and I don't have to buy a $50 harness. That puts the price at $30 over aftermarket if I go with the Toyota wiring for safety.
  • desertguydesertguy Posts: 730

    Don't be put off by the name. They have many accessories for the Highlander and are currently having a sale. They want $69 and change for four smoke colored deflectors. I don't know how this compares with other places but I have had good luck with the service and products here.
  • jsulmeyerjsulmeyer Posts: 10
    I'd greatly appreciate if anyone could tell me definitively if a 2001 Highlander stereo can be swapped out with a 2005 model. They look as if they are the exact same dimensions, but the big question is whether or not the connectors on the back are the same. If they are not the same, can I purchase adaptors that will make the two match?

    Plan B: If it is determined that the two stereos are not interchangeable, is it possible to buy a new faceplate for the 2001 stereo or would I have to buy the whole unit? BTW, how much is a new unit??

    Much thanks!

  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    I personally prefer the "in-channel" units that fit inside the window frame over the exterior tape on variety. I've bought Weathertech units (I think they pioneered the in-channel design) on two of my vehicles and am quite happy with them. They appear to have a light and dark tint available for the Highlander. A few other companies now seem to have in-channel deflectors, but only have them in a dark smoke tint.

    Deflectors4Less ( seems to have the best selection of wind and bug deflectors I've found and their prices seem to be good when you consider that shipping is included.
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    Nearest I can tell from the service manual the face plate for the radio is not sold separately unfortunately.

    Don't know for sure if the two radios are interchangeable, but based on the fact that the signals going to the connector on the '01 radio are common to all stereos (+12V and GND, antenna input, speaker outputs, etc.), if the connector isn't the same, with some electrical know-how, a soldering pencil and both the '01 and '05 electrical service manuals for the radio connector pin-outs, I'm going out on a limb in saying it can probably be done with some effort; I seriously doubt if an adapter for connecting an '05 radio to an '01 HL exists.

    Good luck!
  • jsulmeyerjsulmeyer Posts: 10
    Much thanks, landdriver!

  • angiepdxangiepdx Posts: 26
    Thank you for the link, will go check them out!

  • happyhihyhappyhihy Posts: 4
    I'm interested in purchasing a rubber mat for the rear of my HH for use when ALL the seats are in the down position. Does anyone know of such a thing? I'd like to protect my carpet AND the back of my 2nd row seat when I've got stuff in the back.

    And, does anyone know if I can ADD a 110v outlet as pictured on the Highlander Hybrid pamphlet that was hanging in my car when I bought it?

    I'm the proud owner of new HH 4wd Limited ... that I bought in OH and drove back to Santa Clara, CA (I KNOW Stevens Creek Toyota too!). Any questions about the HH 4wd LTD - I'd be happy to help.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
    DJ in Santa Clara (Wave if you see me in my Bluestone HiHy!) :blush:
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    I'm interested in purchasing a rubber mat for the rear of my HH for use when ALL the seats are in the down position.

    From the adds I've seen I've never seen such an animal, so its possible one may not exist...

    DJ in Santa Clara (Wave if you see me in my Bluestone HiHy!)

    I saw a Bluestone HH on Cristo Ray Road (near Rancho San Antonio) a few weeks ago -- it was the first (and only so far) HH I've seen on the road -- that wasn't you, was it?

    LD in Santa Clara (Wave if you see me in my non-hybrid HL!!) ;)
  • pphamppham Posts: 4
    Hi everybody,

    I bought a 2005 HL demo from dealer. I do not know if i have a towing package option or not. Dealer do not keep a listing of option on the vehicle.

    I bought a towing hitch from Draw-Tite.
    Now I need a trailer wiring.

    I have read numerous thread on this forum but still not sure what kit that I need. And how to install it .

    I appreciate if someone point me to the right direction.


  • Hi, this is my first post. I just bought a used 2001 Highlander 4cyl FWD a few months ago and I really like it. One thing that I don't like is the sound quality of the base stereo, very boomy and muddy. Yes, I know how to access the midrange tone to tweak the sound but it doesn't really improve the boominess. Not having a lot of money to completely upgrade the whole system, I would like to change either the speakers or the head unit. I always thought that the speakers were the most important part of the sound, but some salesman at the stereo store told me to change the head unit first, that will have a greater impact on the sound. Does anyone have any comments that will help me make a decision?

  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26

    I've looked at what it takes to put together a Toyota harness from parts and aftermarket on various online hitch retailers and it looks like to do things right you need to know whether or not your '05 has a tow prep package. actually refers you to the dealer for the harness if you have the tow prep package. The dealer's service department can tell you in about 10 seconds if yours has tow prep, as all they need to do is look at the radiator. This should be a free assessment all things considered. Definitely don't get anything that just plugs into the tail lights and doesn't provide electrical isolation. Everything that I've found online recommends and isolated wiring system.

  • pphamppham Posts: 4
    HI waltrde,

    >Second, it comes with a mounted wiring harness that will plug into the 4 wire >connector that's waiting for it under the left rear floor compartment.

    I opened the driver side trunk compartment and see a 4 wire connector (male) but not sure it's the right one. It's by itself and connect to nothing. I do not know if my HL have a tow package. How can I know this is the right one.

    Do you have a part number for the wiring harness and the converter


  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26
    Yeah, the wires from the 4 pin connector seems to go nowhere, but I believe the existence of the 4 wire connector might be a good indication of the presence of the tow prep package. The Converter part number is 08921-48860 and the harness from the 4 pin connector to the end of the hitch is 08942-48870-BB. Armed with those, you should be able to shop around for a price. My local dealer takes 10% off the asking price for parts at the slightest complaint.

    I found a link with a Toyota service document listing part numbers for all Toyota hitch wiring harnesses at

    I can email the Toyota instructions for installing the converter, which should help to verify if you have all the connections.
  • landdriverlanddriver Posts: 607
    I'm not an expert on car audio but upgrading the speakers is generally considered the most effective way to improve a stock audio system. However someone else on these boards said he upgraded his head unit and it did make a marked improvement. I myself upgraded the amplifier before the upgrading the speakers and it did seem to improve the sound. But based on my experience I'd probably tend to start with the speakers first.
  • pphamppham Posts: 4
    Hi Waltrde,

    Thank you for your help.

    My email is: .

    I located an online outfit that sell the harness that they say shall do for the 2005 HL. It includes a converter and a flat 4 wire plug. It has a picture. would you take a look for me to see if it look like the one that you bought from TOYO. Their instruction does not match with the plug that i ahve on my HL.

    their link:

    I drop by the Toyo dealer tomorrow to let them see if my HL has a towing package.


  • waltrdewaltrde Posts: 26

    Looks nothing like the Toyota parts. It appears to be the Plug-N-Tow Wiring Connector kit that sells for 2004-2005 Highlanders without the tow prep package. Category_Code=VWH

    The illustrations and part numbers match.

    I couldn't find any clear sources for aftermarket hitch wiring for the '04 and later Highlander. Too many sites are unclear as to the year and tow prep package compatibility. That was one of the reasons I had for going with the Toyota hitch, since it comes with everything but the dreaded converter, which is easy to come by if a little pricey.

    In researching this reply, I went back to the Toyota Highlander Club Yahoo Group and did find that the above harness works whether you have the tow prep package or not. It just ignores the Toyota tow prep wiring and goes straight to the tail lights. It's not very elegant, but it does include a converter to preserve the tail light circuits. Because it doesn't take advantage of the Toyota harness, you have to run a wire all the way to the battery to power it. That's the long coil of red wire in the illustration. vtxbobby provides details at He also put up photos of his installation. You need join the group and the group owner has to approve you, which is a pain if you want to check them out.

    I just looked at the kit that eTrailer has for the 2001-2003 with tow prep (they included the converter with those model year's tow prep) and it does have a 4 pin connector that looks like it could work with the tow prep 4 pin connector. vtxbobby tried that first last year, but without a Toyota converter it was worthless. I just asked him in that group if it plugged into the tow prep 4 pin connector. Category_Code=

    Good luck!
  • spuffspuff Posts: 1
    I am deep in a speaker upgrade right now. The speakers are the best place to start. It does not help w/ distortion native to the head unit, but you'll see a very big improvement. I bought a pair of blaupunkts at crutchfield...70% off the original price. Unfortunately they don't fit as promised, so i'm doing some adjusting to make it work. The "premium" jbl speakers are paper and foam crap and I totally agree about booming base. I can't even listen to it. If you're just looking for a better sound experience and not trying to build a "soundsystem" in your car, you should be satisfied with a speaker upgrade.
  • pphamppham Posts: 4

    Thank you very much.

    I shall join the Yahoo group to see the posted pictures of vtxbobby.

    >In researching this reply, I went back to the Toyota Highlander Club Yahoo Group and did find that the above harness works whether you have the tow prep package or not. It just ignores the Toyota tow prep wiring .

    In your message the above harness : Do you mean the Toyo harness or the Etrailer package .


  • Thanks for the info. Both you and landdriver say that speakers are the first thing to replace, so maybe that's where I'll start. I've heard good things about Infinity and also JL speakers, but I'll have to put in some overtime at work first.
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