Boat Towing: ok - boat launching: use something else
I have a 2009 Highlander Hybrid. I need to tow my boat from storage to the lake. The Hybrid tows the boat on the road easily - handles nicely, even pretty decent mileage. Launching the boat was no problem either.
This weekend, I had to help a friend get his boat out of the water (same size as mine) and the HH could not pull it out of the water. The boat launch is well packed gravel but a very gentle incline - and the HH was not able to pull the load out. The front wheels would spin a little and then the traction control would just shut the power down. The rear electric motors (or maybe the traction control) prevented the rear wheels from even spinning - and it seemed like they were getting zero power/torque - so essentially it was 100% front wheel drive. My previous vehicle was an MDX, and it handled this launch SO easily, I just never considered that it would be a potential problem.
In the end, I put the tow hook in the front bumper and another SUV pulled the whole load out.
It's a disappointment, but not a huge problem for me since I usually only need to launch and pull out once or twice a year, and will be able to borrow something. But would not recommend this vehicle for anybody with a boat, even a light one. It's OK for towing, but boat launches are another matter entirely and the HH just isn't up to the task.