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Towing with the Highlander Hybrid



  • Hi,
    I bought a 16' Airstream Bambi Quicksilver Edition last year and have been towing it with a monster 15 person Dodge Van! Our other car is a Prius (to even out the carbon footprint playing field!) and I would love to get a 2006 or later Highlander Hybrid to tow it just like you. Now that you have been at it for a while do you have any further insights and does the HH still do the job with the Airstream. I would love to prove the doubters wrong and buy a Highlander Hybrid for the Bambi. Do you still feel the same as your previous posting and what exactly should I do to modify the HH for towing the Bambi. Thanks so much for any input you have and I commend you on making the hybrid work with the Bambi. I await your reply
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Hi, I notice our posts are really old, dating back to last year, so I will chime in.

    We bought a Toyota hitch and necessary gear for the '06 HH and had a local shop install the whole thing. It seemed simple enough to do it myself but too busy.

    We have not towed something as large as an Airstream but we have tow trailers totaling about 2000 lbs for ranch work and no problem so far. This is in Northern CA, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen area so the roads are windy and mountainous. Our '06 has no problem taking this load and maintaining posted speed. We do slow to 55-MPH when towing on freeways. Absolutely no problem. THis is using an old low-tech tow bar.

    Starting from a dead stop is not a problem especially when the hybrid pack is fully charged. There is more than enough torque to get things rolling. I am used to an old V8 and this HH easily beats our V8.

    Mileage will come down though, especially in mountainous terrain. We average 25-26 MPG a tank but when we tow, mileage can drop as low as 20-MPG on a heavier long haul or 22-MPG on a lighter load.

    The '07-'08 HH are heavier than the '06 HH so in terms of stability, the car provides excellent damping.

    As ijimii wrote, be sure to get good tow bars. Newer models now work to control swaying and so on. They are worth every penny when towing something like a camper. We will be getting one of these to replace our old bar after some more research.

    Hope this helps a bit.
  • eessydoeessydo Posts: 3
    If you want to get an aftermarket hitch, view this youtube link and it will show you how to install.

    I got lucky and forced the sales person at Toyota to toss in a toyota hitch to make the deal. They were 12 cars off their number for the month.
  • I have a boat and trailer that weights 3300 lbs. How will this Hybrid pull my boat? Looking at purchasing this vehicle but concerned with damaging the engine or batteries. Any concerns with this.
  • I have a boat and trailer that weights 3400 lbs. Any issue with towing to the designed limit.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Someone posted here that he tows an Airstream (forgot model #). If that is close to 3500-lbs, it may address your concern? You can look on AirStream site for their specifications and look back through this thread to find his posts.

    We have now towed up to 2500-lb without problems. If this old trailer of ours were bigger and heavier duty, I will have no qualm pushing the weight to 3000-lbs. We have towed on mountain freeways (Northern CA - Redding, Shasta area) and no detectable problems at all. Our '06 HH performs normally and we are confident it can tow up to rated load.

    Except for the need to slow down and be safe when towing, we have detected nothing of concern from the engine and the battery pack. The engine runs fine as usual, oil change is 7500 miles (Synthetic) and I did not see any early darkening or thinning. Brakes work fine and no excessive wear as of last service about 1 month ago. Our tires do wear out faster though but we also drive a lot of dirt and nasty ranch roads.

    We normally have only two adults in the car when towing and few gear in the trunk. If you load up the car with people, gear and such, please do estimate the weight and see if it impacts the tow-rating.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  • monte8monte8 Posts: 75
    I have a '08 HH and plan on installing a trailer hitch. I can purchase the wiring harness on line at a significant discount from the dealer price. I need to know how to install the wiring. I understand that the harness just plugs into the HH wiring, but where is the access and how difficult is this?

    I have viewed the hitch installation video on YouTube. This answered many questions on the exact steps for installation, including resolving some common problems.
  • simon17simon17 Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 HiHy and want to tow my boat with it. The total weight for boat/motor/trailer adds up to 3446 lbs, that's without gas or gear. Add a full tank of gas and it's another 300 lbs. I know the tow limit is 3500 lbs so I'm past the limit but if I'm only going a short distance (<10 miles) and it's flat, Florida terrain, can I do it?
    Also, at that weight, will the car be strong enough to get the thing up the ramp and out of the water?
  • Just towed a 3200 lb. travel trailer from Mi. to Ariz.and back.No problems.It is a 2006 hybrid.See my carspace page for a small picture.Took the grades easily.18 mpg avg.
  • I decided to buy a Toyota factory hitch from the dealer for my 2008 HL and, rather than pay the dealer $260 for installation, thought I'd take a crack at installing it myself. I watched the video on showing the installation of an aftermarket hitch and it seemed like a snap. But I'm assuming that the factory hitch installation might be a bit more involved. I'm not installing the electrical connection, since I'll just be using it for a bike rack.

    Can anyone give me some advice on what differences exist between installing the factory hitch and the aftermarket one? I'm fairly handy and have most tools I think I'll need but if you think I'd be foolish to attempt it myself, that advice would be welcomed, too.



    BTW, the hitch was $450 less 15% for my Costco Executive Member discount.
  • I found the info I needed...sorry, I should've done a more thorough Google search first. For anyone interested, check this forum thread:

  • I installed a 1/1/4" CoastalTech hitch on my 2004 Prius myself with no problems whatsoever.
    I ordered a 1 1/2" receiver hitch for my 2007 Highlander Hybrid (1/ 1/4" is not available) and found it much more difficult to install mainly because it weighs so much more.
    I ended up resting it on an increasing pile of bricks until it was close enough for me to get the bolts in. I didn't bother with an electrical harness since I only use it for a bike rack.
    Good luck.
  • Thanks for the info, Steve. I suspect that installing the hitch on my 2008 HL will be every bit as difficult as what you encountered on your 2007. I'm picking the hitch up next week so I'll start scouting around for some bricks! Like you, I'm not installing the electrical harness as I only carry my bike rack.

  • Hope you're in a warmer climate than Colorado. The hitch installation is a warm weather job. Let me know how it goes. Good luck.
  • wvgasguywvgasguy Posts: 1,405
    ... I have the factory installed hitch on my 09 HH and it looks great.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,748
    The hitch installation is a warm weather job.

    But there's nothing like the smell of freshly busted knuckles in the morning :P

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  • i'm new here but was wondering if any one could possibly help me with a towing question-i have an 06 highlander hybrid & was wondering if anyone has any experience with towing a boat-actually-how does the hh do pulling the boat back out of the water at the launch ramp-my boat & trailer fully loaded weighs approx 810lbs-should i expect any difficulties? any advice would be greatly aprreciated!!cheers! :D
  • I towed my travel trailer 3200 lbs from Ariz.Grade was really steep on the way back through Missouri.My 2006 hybrid hy had no trouble with power to pass other vehicles.Should not be any problem with your boat.
  • dzeddzed Posts: 1
    Gentle folk; My family has a 2007 Hylander hybrid and I need to install a trailer hitch to support a bike rack. I've seen between $400 and $140 hitches. Can anyone recommend a make, model number and source?

    Many thanks,
  • roxxgangroxxgang Posts: 7
    Have the dealer install the one they have for the hylander.I think it was fairly inexpensive and you don't have to get your hands dirty.Call them for the make and model # of the hitch.
  • I am curious. We have an 07 Hybrid Highlander and just installed hitch. Do you have a electric brake controller hooked up? When we did, we found that the ABS and Stability dash lights come on. The electric brake was working great but the hybrid braking system isn't working thus not recharging the battery (even when the RV isn't hooked up). Remedy? So this so that the hybrid braking system could continue to wor?. MN does not require e-brakes...and Toyota actually said it wasn't nec. when towing a 2000 pound T@DA RV. We are going to unhook the E-Brake until we find out for sure and hope that by doing it, we are able to restore the brake system.

    If anyone out there has suggestion/experience please pass it on!
    To use or not to use the electronic braking system.
  • Yes,I have a brake controller[electric] installed.When it was installed by the rv dealer the exact warning lights you describe came on.I took my hybrid to the toyota dealer and they told me that the brake wiring harness had been unplugged and then plugged back in.The rv installer had done this so he could hook up the controller to the brake wiring.A sensor had been tripped when this was done and needed to be reset by toyota.Once the reset was done everything worked fine.Also make sure there are 40 amp fuses installed in the power feed coming off the vehicle battery for protection.Have toyota check the wiring install for you.You should have the brake controller in case you leave MN.I almost got a TADA but the interior ht. was just to small.My trailer is 3200 lbs.Feel free to e mail me at
  • toddwinestoddwines Posts: 3
    edited June 2010
    I would recommend having Toyota install a trailer hitch on your Highlander Highbred. I installed my hitch myself and have had no problems over the past year and a half. Well my car died and I had to have it towed to the dealer. They said I need a new power inverter....guess how much just this part costs? $9,000.00. I called and complained to Toyota after several calls they said I caused the problem because the Highlander is considered a Passenger Vehicle. Once I put the hitch on and hauled a trailer with it, it has become a service vehicle. They said I should have had the dealer put a hitch on and do an engine modification to allow me to haul. I have hauled less then 1,500 pounds (trailer and a small riding lawn mower). The manual states a hauling capability of 3,500 pounds and I called the dealer and talked to them before I did it. They opined there would be no problems as long as I did not exceed the weight listed in my owners manual. I had 144,000 miles on it which about 75 % were highway miles.
  • hogie13hogie13 Posts: 1
    I just had a RV dealer install the receiver, brake control and sway control on our 08 HH. I had the experience where the ABS was out of wack. The dealer in MI reset the computer and that part is working well....I think. I drove the 2900 lbs. trailer from MI to GA only getting 12-13 MPG. No burning or overheating. The greatest grade between MI and GA is 6%. I only tapped the brakes once the whole 5 mile trip down never exceeding 60 mph. I called my local dealer and they told me its the regen system compensating for the extra load. I would tend to agree, but after seeing this forum, I am re thinking this. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  • roxxgangroxxgang Posts: 7
    I have towed 3200 lb travel trailer back and forth MI. to AZ. 3 times now. No problems whatsoever. Average 15mpg. I now have 62k on my 2006 HH. Everytime I take it in for service I ask if I need new brakes. The pads still have 2/3 of life left on them. I say how can this be? They said because of the regen system the pads can last over 100k on the HH.
  • I'm adding tow hitch to my 06 highlander hybrid and am trying to find plug in type wiring kit/harness with clear instructions and wiring digram. Where can I find this?
  • 89fj6289fj62 Posts: 20
    Wiring harness came with my 09 HH hitch. Call your local Toyota parts person and ask if you can buy the harness separate from them hitch. Toyota harnesses are fantastic but they may be hard to install by an in experienced person. Interior panels needed to be removed to install wiring harness which connects in the fuse panel and the rear bumper needed removed to install the hitch. With that all said the Toyota hitch and wiring harness is worth the money.
  • I had the R.V. dealer install it on my 06 HH and he had a lot of trouble. The toy dealer told me they would do it too. The toy dealer is probably the way to go as I do not think there is a plug in jack on the 06 HH.
  • casitacasita Posts: 2
    I'm about to buy a HH 06. I will want to tow my small camping trailer, about
    1500 lbs. 2000 lbs loaded. I'm really confused if this is a good idea or not.
    Some people seem to not have any problems and others have major problems.
    The car i am looking at doesn't have a per prep towing package. It it nessary?
    Can it be added?
    I would also like to add electric brakes at some point.

    Thank you for any comments or advice.
  • roxxgangroxxgang Posts: 7
    The 06 can tow 3500 lbs with the prep package it comes off the lot with. Add a hitch and brakes and you will have no problems. if you have more questions.
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