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Towing with the Toyota Highlander



  • ch1rravuch1rravu Posts: 14
    We would like to hear experiences from real-world towing experiences of your respective SUVs/CUVs .. my friend in GA trying to figure if a Highlander can do a job of decently tow his 4750 pound boat. Recently read a review about Highlander on Trailer Boats -

    Going with Highlander, his MPG during non-towing will be excellent compared to rails-based SUVs. He is excited about that, but looking for more information on 2008 model, thanks
  • My husband and I are considering buying a 2002 V6 AWD Highlander to tow a 2200 lbs dry weight travel trailer. The hitch weight of the trailer is 173 lbs. I read in the owners manual that the maximum allowable speed to travel when towing is 72 km/h. We plan to travel on highways with speed limits of 110 km/h, so it really wouldn't be safe for us to travel 72 km/h. Does anyone have any experience with towing on highways? This maximum speed seems really unrealistic to me. I'm also concerned about the previous comments that the back end seems to sag... the manual also says not to tow anything unless the vehicle and trailer are level.

    Thanks for any help you can give! It's been really tough to find a quality SUV that is fuel efficient and good for use as an everyday city vehicle, but can also pull a trailer on the occasional weekend.

  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,785

    I think that the reference to a maximum tow speed of 72kmh is probably the maximum speed that a Kluger (Highlander) can be towed by a recovery vehicle with wheels on road, not trailer towing speed.

    The Kluger is an excellent tow vehicle, well able to tow boats, caravans and trailers. I have been towing a 6x4 trailer this afternoon with my 2004 Kluger, comfortably at 110kmh. I think the previous generation Kluger (ie 20007 and earlier) had slightly lower tow ratings so check the manual or call Toyota for details. In Australia, the specifications say maximum trailer weight of 1,500kg and drawbar download of 9-11%. The maximum wight of the laden car, (excluding trailer but including the download on the hitch) is limited at 2,380kg.

    On the latest model Kluger in Australia, maximum braked trailer weight is 2000kg or 4400 lb (750kg or 1650lb unbraked) and I think draw bar weight of 200kg or 440lb.

    However, do not put too much weight too far away from centre of moment of the trailer. Toyota Australia suggests 60% forward of axle and 40% behind.

    You may also need to adjust tire pressures to maximum specified on the tire placard

    The usual issue with trailer towing is to remember that the constraint is not getting the thing up to speed, but stopping it. Taking about 10-15kmh off normal cruising speed is a good practice. Also use the gear shift mounted overdrive lockout, particularly in hilly areas. If these steps are followed, fuel economy remains good (I have achieved 11.5l/100km today) and you do not strain engine or transmission.

    If towing for lengthy stretches, talk to a good towbar installer about additional transmission cooling and other necessary items.

    Have a service before setting out on a long trip and when you return, getting engine oil replaced, and possibly transmission fluid checked.

    Remember that the engine is hauling twice the normal weight around and all other parts of the vehicle are similarly stressed.

    Do make sure that your brakes and tires are in top notch condition because a blow out or brake failure is catastrophic when towing.

    Periodically check tire temperature of the car and trailer (tires on same axles should feel similarly hot when you pull up) and also check the bearing caps on the trailer for overheating (a frequent problem).

    If anything feels funny or is loose, stop immediately and seek assistance from a competent mechanic,


  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    I'll second everything that grahampeters says...all good advice. Just my personal experience with our '04 AWD V6, we tow a pop-up w/dry weight 1,245 lbs & 135 lb tongue-weight, plus about 300 lbs of 'stuff' and 2 adults...never a problem at 65, even 70 MPH, but I usually keep it about 60-62.
    If I had to do it all over again, I'd put on a weight-distributing hitch as there's a fair amount a sag as it is, but if you're not carrying all the extra stuff like us, you should be fine. There's plenty of power and, yes the gas mileage is really good, we average 22+ on our roadtrips. Regards, BGood
  • Hi All, new to this forum. We have an 04 Highlander V6, 4WD, with no tow package. I installed a U-Haul hitch and standard trailer wiring connector to pull my 4x8 utility trailer (which it does well). We are thinking about getting a pop-up camper and wondering what else we need to pull a a camper of about 1500lbs + 600 lbs in people and gear. I know power-wise it is rated for 3500 lbs. But am wondering if we need the larger radiator or tranny oil cooler that were part of the tow package? Toyota wants $520 for the cooler and mounting parts, $350 (approx.) for the radiator. My mechanic is telling me I should be fine without all this for a pop-up, but I'd like a Highlander-expert opinion. Our local Toyota Service rep. tells me I should be ok without, if we keep the weight to around 2000 lbs, but I think we're going to be slightly over that. I also have seen a lot of mention of electric trailer brakes on this forum. How essential are those? None of the campers I've seen so far have these, are they an add-on to the camper?
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    We used to tow a Fleetwood Cobalt pop-up, it's a relative light-weight (1,440 dry/2,300 GVWR) and it came with electric brakes. We had the hitch (DrawTite) and controller installed on our '04 4x4 and it worked great! The HL had the "tow package" with the upgraded cooling, tranny cooling and charging system, but it never taxed it. I'd recommend it only if you're doing a fair amount of mountain driving or consistent really hot ambient temps (eg. Phoenix area, Death Valley and the like) on a regular basis. We're in the midwest and used it in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
    I do recommend a model with electric brakes and most state laws have them as a requirement for trailers over a certain GVWR, in the range of many pop-ups. It makes for much more controllable stops particularly on wet/slippery pavement...the trailer essentially brakes or helps "drag" your tow vehicle down rather than it continuing to shove you along as your HL slows. Hope this helps.
    Reagrds, BGood
  • Iam looking at a 2008 US base model. I want to be able to tow a 6X12 Vnose cargo trailer that weighs about 2500 lbs loaded. Will the Highlander tow this? The trailer does have brakes which we would hook up to the Highlander. Distance being towed could be substantial - Ontario Canada to Florida.
  • Hi! I am looking to put a hitch on a 2010 Highlander. Going with a non Toyota hitch is way cheaper. But I am curious to learn how much of the non Toyota brand hitch will show compared to a Toyota brand hitch? If anyone can direct me to pictures comparing how they look once installed would be very grateful. Thanks.
  • hivemanhiveman Posts: 10
    I have an 09 Highlander Sport AWD and will be towing a 3500 lb pop up camper this summer. Can I safely leave the transmission in 4th gear manual and downshift as needed for hills? Is there an rpm limit I shouldnt exceed for much time when I am in a lower gear and going up{or down} hills? Thanks for any suggestions.
  • carfun888carfun888 Posts: 25
    Check out the video install of the 2009 Highlander in this link, That is my vehicle getting a Valley hitch at eTrailer (free labor when they video the install!). id=20099870

    Note that I removed all stickers from the hitch - at a glance can't tell the hitch is there :)
  • smitbradsmitbrad Posts: 8
    edited April 2010
    I just installed the Toyota hitch and wiring harness over the weekend. I think the Toyota hitch looks much better than the after market ones and is worth the extra money. Before I bought my 2010 I made sure the hitch was covered and looked like it was integrated with the bumper. I think the hitches that mount below the bumper and are exposed look like crap.

    I ordered my hitch and harness from Toyota Parts Delivered. The hitch, cover, wiring harness and shipping cost $509.
  • jjpetlovrjjpetlovr Posts: 3
    Has anyone been able to install a Brake controller on a 2010 Highlander? It has the Tow package and just got the Draw tite class III receiver and 4 prong wire harness installed today, but the installer said that he cannot find a way to install a brake controller. He states he can wire it from front to back, but is not sure it will work or if it will interfere with the traction control or other braking functions. I would really like to have a brake controller as my new Coleman Niagara weighs about 4000lbs when loaded. That is only 1000lbs under the max tow weight.

    I would appreciate any help or information anyone has. Thank you in advance...

  • hivemanhiveman Posts: 10
    I had a brake controller installed on my 2009 HL at the time the hitch was installed and it works fine. No electrical problems that I have noticed so I assume the same would be true of the 2010 model.
  • I tow a 6x10 trailer with my 2005 Highlander (Base, 6cyl, AWD). The trailer weights about 1200 pounds and the load brings it to 3500 pounds. The tires seem to wear out in the sidewalls more quickly and it was suggested that I increase the tire size AND lift the rear end which sags with the trailer alone or with the extra weight. Is there a "lift kit" for the Highlander or what about adding springs - Eibach is a brand that has been mentioned. Bottom line - the Highlander has a saggy rear and I need to figure out a way to lift it up to allow better performing tires to fit and not rub?
  • have a 2002 hl with the factory hitch and wiring. It was missing a fifth blue wire for the disc brake lockout. I wired into the brake light line and it has worked fine.

    I also have a 2003 Nissan murano and installed my own hitch and used the Nissan wiring kit. It didn't include a fifth blue wire for the lock out. I had to tap off the 12v. line to the converter and use a toggle switch to back up. very inconvenient.

    I am now considering a 2011 hl. do all v6 come with trailer tow cooling etc.? I don't mind installing my own hitch and I don't really care what it looks like. I also don't mind installing my own wiring kit, but once again, what about the fifth (blue) lock out line?

    any tips, suggestions or advice. thanks, rr70
  • gbesaw74gbesaw74 Posts: 1
    I'm planning to buy a 2011 Highlander (V6 version) and tow a Mini Cooper Clubman (3800 lbs) cross country 2900 miles on a front-wheel dolly. Is there a manufacturer-specified break in mileage for new vehicles prior to using it for towing?
  • mkunkle1mkunkle1 Posts: 2
    Just bought a 2011 HL V6 AWD with towing pkg. Owner's manual states that I should wait until I have 50) mile on the odometer before towing. Hope that helps.
  • mkunkle1mkunkle1 Posts: 2
    Sorry, 500 miles...
  • natgyanatgya Posts: 2
    Hi there,

    I'm just waiting for our new Highlander (3 weeks). In meantime, I have to make some decisions. Help??

    We also just bought a travel trailer (hence the need for the highlander).

    Toyota's dealer-installed tow package comes with a 4-pin.

    We are told that we will need a 7-pin/plug hock, a break controller and a weight distribution hitch.

    My question: Since Toyota can't install the 7-pin, is there anything in their towing package that I need?

    I'm afraid that I might be wasting my money if I get the dealer's tow package then have to take it somewhere else to have additional work done. Would I be better off finding a good hitch installer and have them do the whole job?

    Hoping that those with experience will chime in.

    Many thanks, in advance.

  • do some searches on this board. also, speak with several hitch installers. i have a 2002 hl and needed a 5 pin for back up lock out and ended up tapping off the brakes light line. i wouldn't want to do that with a new hl. the dealer installed wiring will be a waste of money. hopethat helps. rr70
  • jrfierojrfiero Posts: 123
    I don't know about the new HLs, but IIRC with my 2001 the towing package included things like a larger radiator and transmission cooler, so the wiring should be a secondary consideration.

  • I just bought a used 2002 highlander with a factory installed hitch. I am planning on getting a trailer and moving across the country. The hitch does not have the carrying capacity anywhere written on it. How do I find out the carrying capacity?
  • i have a 2002 w/ v6 and 2" receiver box and towed quite a lot with it. make sure you drain and refill the tranny before and after you tow. totyota tyupe IV tranny fluid is now available at most autoparts stores.

    if its a v6 HL, and has the reciever has a 2" receiver box, it is most likely rated for 3,500 lbs towing weight which is also the two limit for the HL

    I don't remember the tongue weight but since the tongue weight should be about 7 to 9% of the towed weight for best towing, it shouldn't be more than 350 lbs anyway. hope that helps. rr70
  • Hello Toyota owners!
    I have a 2012 V6 Highlander and I am planning to buy 4000lbs towable RV.
    I wonder if someone would like to share his experience towing with the Highlander with me? Performance, stability in the wind, and gas consumption.
    Thank you for your help!
  • I have towed a 3200 lb boat, motor and trailer with my 2002. You will have no problem. A few pointers:

    Drain and refill the transmission at least one a year. Its a little expensive, but wlll worth doing.

    you may need a back up lock out. this may be tricky to wire.

    make sure you have trailer brakes.

    hope that helps. rr70
  • Thanks RR70, I appreciate your help and advise!
  • We have a 2010 V6 Highlander with the tow package. 5000-lb. towing capacity, heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler, 200-watt fan coupling and supplemental transmission oil cooler.
    We tow a 3900lb Coleman Niagara Tent Trailer. We had to add a break controller for the electric brakes on the trailer. We also added a WDH with sway control. It just didn't feel like a solid tow until we added the WDH. Now, it is great. Good control, very little sway with wind. (we are medium profile) Gas consumption takes a decent hit. We average 14. Less on steep pulls. Overall though, I think the Highlander does a great job.
  • Hello jjpetlovr ,

    I contacted Toyota dealer here in Houston and was informed I don't need heavy-duty radiator, engine oil cooler, 200-watt fan coupling or supplemental transmission oil cooler. They said the 2012 is already equipped to tow 5000lbs. Did you buy those after purchasing the vehicle? and how strongly do you recommend them.

    Thank you for your help!
  • Well... I tend to be overly cautious. On our 2010, the "tow package" was an option that we opted for because IMHO, you can never be too prepared. Can you tow without those options? Probably.... Do you have a little bit more piece of mind with those options??? I sure do. When I am pulling a steep grade, I love the fact that my temp gauge never goes up at all. I think that the Highlander does a fine job. But, towing does put a heavy load on all the components. I want it to be as easy on my tow vehicle as possible.
    Now, if the 2012 comes with those items Standard on the Highlander then that may be something to find out. If so, then you are set. :-)
    Not really sure I answered your question, but I know after reading a LOT of posts here, I think a lot of people agree.
    Good luck!!! :-)
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