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Towing with the Toyota Highlander

hvillehville Posts: 2
edited September 2014 in Toyota
Does any of you Highlander owners use your rig for towing? If so, how much is the vehicle really able to handle.


  • moborotomoboroto Posts: 1
    I am in process to get a hitch for my 2006 Highlander V6 AWD. Currently, I am looking at the following three hitchs, and hope some you can help me out to pick a good one.
    1. Hidden Hitch #87778
    2. Hidden Hitch #70778
    3. DrawTite #75153
    They are about the same price, so I am having hard time to choose one. According to the seller, they are all class 3 hitchs, and can be install by myself in 40 minutes, all easy to install, and no welding needed.
    So, anyone has install one of these hitch can help me out that will be great, thank you all.
    For reference, check out this site: a&model=HIGHLANDER
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786

    I have a v6 AWD Kluger (Highlander) and have found it excellent for towing. Rated maximum tow weight here in Australia is 700kg (about 3/4 ton) unbraked and 1500kg (about 1 1/2 ton) for braked trailers. These weights are pretty right. As a general rule, I would aim to keep the totoal braked tow weight below the weight of the vehicle.

    Load on drawbar should not exceed 150KG and ideally should be better balanced. Ideally, you are after about 50kg download.

    Actual towing behaviour is very good. The short distance between rear wheels and towbar means that tracking is very true with little tendency to sway or jack-knife. Braking is good. If towing anything but a small trailer, use the Overdrive lockout and watch your speed. Never seen any transmaiission overheating whilst towing but you should baby the car a bit when doing so.


  • sqrlmomsqrlmom Posts: 1
    We are having a hard time finding a lightweight travel trailer that works with the V6 4WD Highlander. Either the trailer is too heavy or the tongue weight is too much. We are looking at the Trail Sport TT, any other suggestions? What have you had success with? The hitch is for the 3500 lb limit with a 350 tongue wt...that seems to be the max. None use weight distribution bars. The one trailer we really like has a 351 tongue weight...too much? I'd love some advice and to hear some of your experiences that would help us out in this frustrating and confusing quest to go camping! Any TT suggestions?
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    Don't know if this would be something you'd be interested in...we picked up a pop-up this year, a Fleetwood Element-series Cobalt. I searched for a long time for something as light as possible and it's only about 1,250 lbs dry and a 135 lb tongue weight. Sits higher that most pop-ups and is designed to be pulled off-road more-so than other pop-ups. Loaded with about 100 lbs of gear, the truck loaded with about 250-300, and 2 adult passengers, our 04 V6 HL doesn't even know it's back there. Even with the light weight, it noticeably sags the rearend, tho. We've got 18.7 to 19.6 MPG on recent 400+ mile trips in hilly country.
  • Hi,
    Am interested in the Kluger (Highlander) which you found to be excellent for towing, but you did not confirm what size van you tow. Our van weighs 1200kg unladen and I am concerned that with stated tow capacity of 1500kg the Kluger will struggle.I note also that in US they offer tow kit option which is not offered in Aust, ( spoke to Toyota they say not required). Do you think Kluger will be ok for towing this size van or should I look at Terracan, Jeep or other option.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786

    My impression is that the 1500kg rating is a little conservative, if the trailer is fitted with brakes.

    The old rule of thumb was that a car could tow up to its own mass. A Kluger is about 1765kg to 1875kg depending on model. It is fitted with a powerful but understressed 3.5l engine and a quite robust transmission with a cooler already fitted (This is usually the "Tow Pak" specified in other countries but routinely fitted here).

    The Toyota tow bar is usually a Hayman Reece with a removable hitch. The one problem I have had is that this can shake a little in the reciever, and may need to be packed a little with a soft wedge to prevent juddering.

    As always with towing, you need to adjust your driving to accelerate more slowly, allow plenty of braking distance and remember you are not driving a sports car.

    You should also remember that this is not a full heavy duty 4wd. Nor are the other vehicles you suggested. I have driven the Jeep and am not impressed. My own perception is that the Kluger probably offers the best compromise as a tow vehicle amongst these three.

    However, you may try the simple approach of going to a nearby boat ramp sometime soon on a good fishing day. You should find owners of each of the relevant vehicles who will be towing fairly large loads and should give a good idea of their capacity.


  • Moboroto - I don't see a reply to your post in the "Towing with the HL" discussion asking about the Hidden Hitch and DrawTite HL hitches, so: see my post #1231 in the "Accessories and Mods" discussion. I looked at the same hitches you are, and ended up choosing the Toyota hitch. Since that post I've used a hitch-type bike carrier and pulled a small boat with no troubles.
  • bmathbmath Posts: 2
    I have a 2004 Highlander 4 cyl. with towing capacity of 3000 lb. Am looking at a Viking popup camper with unloaded weight of 1385 lb., cargo capacity 705 lb., hitch weight of 230 and GVWR 2320 lb. Can I safely tow this trailer in the mountains up to 10,000-11,000 ft.elevation or do I need special eqipment?

  • jlabriejlabrie Posts: 10
    Bill, I wish I could answer that question. The manual on the '05 Highlander states that for towing a load of 1000 lbs. or more you should use trailer brakes. My gut says you are in need of them. Now, that sounds all good and well, but has anyone tried to put the electric trailer brake control on a Highlander? Since the Highlander has the Flat-4 wiring connector, it has no way to support electric trailer brakes (requires a Round-7 connector). I'm in the same quandary, as I have bought a dual axle trailer that with its load will weigh about 3100 lbs. While this is technically in the range of the Highlander, it is only if using trailer brakes, which my dealer is unable to install. Furthermore, a local trailer company didn't want to even try to do it, as he said he'd end up voiding the warranty on the Highlander. So if anyone has had an electric trailer brake control installed on a Highlander to use with trailer brakes, I'm also very interested. The alternative for me is to trade in the Highlander and get a 4Runner (and the spouse just loves that idea.....not!).
    Thanks, John
  • bmathbmath Posts: 2
    Thanks for the information. I didn't see that in the owner's manual about trailer brakes but will check it out.

  • jlabriejlabrie Posts: 10

    You're welcome. If you look in the back of the manual under 'towing' you'll find the relevant pages - the part that talks about the trailer brakes is in the latter part of the manual (can't recall the exact pages, sorry).

    I finally found a local trailer shop who will put the electric brake control on my car. My Highlander came with the factory Tow Package, which may or may not make this whole thing easier - I'll let you know.


  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    Sounds like you need to find a different/more experienced hitch installer. I have an 04 V6 HL and a 1250 lb. pop-up with electric brakes. They make a huge difference in your stopping length and smoothness and safety. The local professional installer put on a DrawTite hitch and spliced a 7-prong connector into the wiring-didn't use the Toyota harness, said this was quicker and less expensive in the longrun. He put the brake controller ($99 installed) with its Toyota-specific wiring harness right in where the aux. 12V plug is in the front open bottom of the console. He took the plug-in out and the controller just sits on the opening and is easily accessible. Works great! Hope this helps.
  • You were absolutely correct.

    I found a good installer and they installed new wiring along with a 2-in-1 harness that has both Flat-4 and Round-7 connectors on it. Inside the cabin they installed the Prodigy controller which is a very nice and easy to operate unit. I'll be towing about 3250 lbs total, so the trailer brakes will definitely be a plus.

    Thanks for the assist.
  • Glad you found an installer and that it worked out for you. I tow only a 1,500 lb pop-up, but even with that light of a load, braking is sssooo smooth with the electric brakes compared to when they're disconnected.
  • This is my first post and I have read all the prior ones re: Towing.

    My hubby and I are considering buying an 02 6 Cyl HL -- our old 88 Volvo died and we want a mid size SUV as our second car (other is 95 Odyssey). We like the reviews/ratings that HL receives, and love the way it drives (NOT like a truck or SUV) We will need to launch/recover a 24' sailboat(boat and trailer @2900 lbs) on occasion (1-2x year max) We will NOT be towing it on highway and only for about 3 miles on local road - to/from launch site.

    Should we buy an 02 with the Tow Prep Package or can we just have our mechanic put a hitch on it? Doubt if there will be a warranty to worry about voiding. If we do buy "after market" - what can we expect to pay - less than $500 or more??

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Hot for Highlander

  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    IMHO, don't worry about the tow-prep package. Find a reputable, honest, experienced installer, use a quality hitch and you should be fine for what little use and short distance that you plan to go. The tow prep package typically added "upgraded radiator, tranny oil cooler, and higher-watt fan coupling, trailer pre-wiring". A good hitch installer can use existing wiring.
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    Sorry, forgot...price was $554 last year, all installed including $197 for the DrawTite hitch and $99 for the electric brake controller.
  • Many thanks, Webgood!! That will increase the "universe" of cars we have to choose from. We have a great "Hitch" guy in town who specializes in such and our mechanic is super (honest and reputable), so you may have just solved our dilemma!!

    Have you had any towing experiences with your Highlander?

    As a woman, I really appreciate the help you guys offer on these forums! Keep up the good WORK and WORDS!!

    Pleased as punch...
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    You're very welcome. As I've noted in my previous posts in this forum, we tow a pop-up camper which loaded is probably about 1,500 lbs., plus 300+ lbs. of stuff in the back of the HL and 2 adults. With the '04 V6 AWD I've been satisfied with gas mileage; I 'think' it was around 19-20 mpg with 2-lane road highway driving in Wisconsin (hills, occasional passing, lots of small towns to slow down for, driving slow through the state parks, etc).
    As far as the power factor, not a problem at all. Even with all of the above, it kicks up plenty fast for 'oh-crap' passing of slow semis, ol' farts, and farm tractors. Hope this helps. Regards, BGood. :shades:
  • Hello again!

    Forgot to ask you 2 final but important questions before we buy:

    For limited towing described, should we stick with 6 CYL instead of 4 and 4WD instead of 2WD?

    Thanks again, webgood!

    Mellow in Maryland
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    I'm not an expert here, I can only relate my own experiences. Given that, the V6 obviously has more torque than the 4 for a better margin of power when really needed. I've never liked to gamble on lack of power. As to the AWD vs front wheel, towing something transfer considerable weight to the rear wheels, thus lightening the front ones. Personally, I would be concerned about trying to get and maintain traction with front wheel on a wet, worn concrete, sandy-strewn, alge-covered up-hill boat ramp with a 1,500 lb. sailboat and a 300 lb (at least) trailer pushing down on the rearend and lifting the front. SUV's don't float well. Regards, BGood
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Well you aren't doing a lot of long mileage towing, so you don't need the tow package which includes extra cooling.

    I would get the 4wd, as you never know which boat ramp you'll be on. I've been on some that are very slippery (or steep), and you'll need every bit of traction you can get. If you are in Maryland you really don't get that bad weather, but it would be nice to have anyhow for those time you do get dumped with snow.

    Either engine would be fine. If you were doing mileage towing I'd definitely get the bigger engine, but for the minimal towing you are doing either engine will be be okay.
  • u045777u045777 Posts: 33
    Does anyone know what the tow rating is on the all new 2008 HL?
  • camptoycamptoy Posts: 2
    Got a 2002 Highlander (tow package, brake controller, Class II hitch of correct height) to pull a pop-up camper that is well under the tow and tongue wt. capacity of the vehicle. There is noticeable "hitch sag" however and for long distance towing, this can't be good. Any ideas for beefing up Highlander rear end? Can't seem to find any air shocks or other devices that fit on the Highlander and don't really want to put on heavy shocks that will be harsh when not towing. Anyone have experience with light duty weight-distributing hitches? Or would this not be safe for this vehicle?
  • blufz1blufz1 Posts: 2,045
    Experiment w/ rear tire pressures. Try +5 then experiment from there. Just lower the pressure back to normal when you get back from your trip. Hopes this helps.
  • mazzaravmazzarav Posts: 1
    I looking at purchasing a 2004 Highlander to tow a 3000 lb boat. I'm comparing the 2004 Highlander Limited 6cyl FWD vs the same in a 6cyl AWD. Can anyone offer any suggestions?
  • camptoycamptoy Posts: 2
    Probably best to go with the AWD - more traction being better than less traction. Make sure that your hitch weight is under #350 (and the less # the better)- with a hitch weight supposedly under #300, my '02 6 cyl AWD already has quite a bit of sagging at the hitch. Keep in mind that these Highlanders are built on the Camry frame. :confuse:
  • johnh9johnh9 Posts: 1
    Hi all. I've just got my 07 highlander and new to this forum.

    The manual mentioned about two towing eyelets but I found only 1 in the same place with other tools. How many eyelet do you have with your highlander?

    I'm looking for a bike rack that can carry up to 4 bikes. Do you have any recommendation?

  • I've got an '04 Highlander. V6/4WD. I want to add a hitch to tow a small 600 pound boat. I don't have the tow prep package or an existing hitch. How hard is it to add something like this myself? Any idea what the cost would run at the dealer?
  • webgoodwebgood Posts: 95
    I had the local tow and spring/suspension equipment shop (who specializes in ALL towing-related stuff and installs, even big trucks) install a DrawTite, all wiring with 7-point connector and an electric brake controller for my 1,500 lb camper in early 2006...$554 for the whole package. You may not need the controller and could save about $120. My '04 V6 awd did have the 'tow prep package', but they didn't use the wiring harness, it was quicker and less expensive for they to splice right into the existing wiring. It took them one and a half hours (including cigarette break) start to finish. I wouldn't have messed with it myself; they had all the tools and expertise. Regards, BGood
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