I am trying to decide between the XLE and the LE Plus V6 FWD
I currently tow a A-Frame camper which dry is just under 2,000 lbs.
I was thinking of just getting the LE Plus and adding a transmission cooler and brake module--and having a toyota install hitch.
Then I started thinking about the additional features the XLE offers for towing.
Is it worth an extra $3k to have those features? I mean I know the car itself has more too (heated seats, sunroof) etc.
The 2015 Highlander LE FWD's “maximum trailer weight rating” is indeed 2,000 lbs. per SAE Standard J2807. However, this specification is not absolute, as there are several associated “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”.
Specifically, owners manual page 209 includes this important note:
TWR (Trailer Weight Rating) is calculated assuming base vehicle with one driver, one front passenger, towing package (if available), hitch and hitch systems (if required).
In other words, if you want to "legally" tow a 2,000 lb. trailer, then there can't be many normal size people and/or much stuff in the car.
Toyota's specifications for the Highlander LE FWD verify this note. The car's GCWR is 6,660 lbs., and the curb weight is 4,244 lbs. Assuming a 2,000 lb. trailer and a 50 lb. trailer hitch, that leaves 6,660 – 4,244 - 2,000 - 50 = 366 lbs. for the driver and a passenger and/or cargo. If you want to carry more (or largers) passengers and/or cargo, then the trailer's weight must be correspondingly reduced.
There are also several important operational limitations. For example, Toyota says to not use the compact spare when towing (you'd need to consider buying and carrying a full-size spare), and the maximum trailer weight rating for an unbraked trailer is 1,000 lbs.
I think it's unlikely that anyone would limit the vehicle's load to 366 lbs. (driver, passengers, and cargo) when towing a 2,000 camping trailer. Accordingly, I strongly recommend you only consider the XLE trim level and its 5,000 lb. maximum trailer weight rating. I also recommend a thorough read of OM pages 206-223.
Jim / crewzer