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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi
Just taken delivery of KX-R AWD (Kluger in OZ) love it so far!

A few questions:

AWD/differential split?

Seen posts saying 50/50% distribution of drive at centre diff. Still a bit confused. Is it like having a 50% LSD centre diffeential?
Does that mean if a front wheel is off the ground (or just lost traction) you will still have drive going to the back differential? Some softroaders will stop whenone wheel looses traction and spin only that wheel with no torque going to others.

Traction control
Does this brake individual wheels (or just drop power output from engine)? If it uses the brakes it could be useful for slippery situations where one wheel may break loose and lose traction. If the traction control applies braking action to that wheel ONLY then more torque would transfer to the other wheels (that have traction)

Recovery points:
Just wondering if any 08 Highlander owners have taken vehicle off road (on sand/beach areas?)

Looks like there are NO recovery points - looks some trim 'pop out bits' in front bumper. Are these for tow/recovery points? Has anyone had to tow/snatch vehicle from bogged situation. Where do you attach recovery strap to?

I realise not a 'full' offroader but knowing recovery points before getting stuck would be good.


Thanks
 

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Premium Member
2007 Camry XLE
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Don't know if the traction control will bail you out if one wheel slips but on the US version there are two hook slots in the front bumper that you screw a tow hook into (part of the jack, wheel wrench stuff)

See attached.

Front Tow Hooks

Installing a TowHitch on the back would give you a point to attach the recovery strap on the back as well
 

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TN User
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I have a Limited and DON"T like to use the "SNOW" button. It allows the wheels to go through the snow with minimum slipping.(but goes slower) In deeper snow if you stomp on the gas to go through faster, it doesn't make you go any faster because it reduces power to wheels if spinning. To me seems like it bogs down and increases change of getting stuck. Without the “SNOW” button on, just depress gas peddle accordingly and you will be better off. That’s just my opinion.
 

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Traction control brakes individual wheels. It makes up for having open diffs everywhere.
AWD does NOT have a low range for real offroading.
Highlander should have no problem with mild stuff--dirt roads, basic park trails, beach...
Snow button supposedly changes AT shift programming so that you are up a gear then what is needed to prevent wheelspin. No issues with it here. Even in the wrong gear, the 3.5L has plenty of power to get moving. Some also get better MPG with snow button engaged during normal weather. I guess it depends on driving style.

If you plan on worrying about "recovery point's", you bought the wrong vehicle. AWD+pathetic 19" OE tires isn't something I would want to seriously offroad with.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info. The recovery point issue was just 'in case' I do something silly and get stuck on the beach and need some 'small' assistance to get moving again. (would hope not to be driving in sand that has massive wheel ruts and bigger clearance/tyres required) Changing from NIssan Patrol to Kluger so realise AWD has no where near offroad ability at the real 4WD but the Nissan really only gets used for short distance on fairly good beach sand conditions lately. (and then really long trips on the bitumen home where the Kluger will be much more confortable)

The snow button may be of assitance in sand also.
 

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2008 H-lander 2wd GR
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Highlander 4wd

Is there a speed limit on the 4wd system? I can't find a description anywhere in the owner's manual on how the system works. The reason I ask is that on the Pilot and Santa Fe, the 4wd only works on speeds below 20 mph.
 

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2007 Camry XLE
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Is there a speed limit on the 4wd system? I can't find a description anywhere in the owner's manual on how the system works. The reason I ask is that on the Pilot and Santa Fe, the 4wd only works on speeds below 20 mph.
No..it is a AWD system with 50/50 power distribution

AWD - How it Works
 

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2008 Highlander Base
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Some additional input

Thanks for the info. The recovery point issue was just 'in case' I do something silly and get stuck on the beach and need some 'small' assistance to get moving again. (would hope not to be driving in sand that has massive wheel ruts and bigger clearance/tyres required) Changing from NIssan Patrol to Kluger so realise AWD has no where near offroad ability at the real 4WD but the Nissan really only gets used for short distance on fairly good beach sand conditions lately. (and then really long trips on the bitumen home where the Kluger will be much more confortable)

The snow button may be of assitance in sand also.


As it's been explained to me by the Toyota salesman, if you go into any kind of loose dirt or sand you want to turn off the TRAC/VSC system in order to improve traction in those conditions, otherwise the vehicle is "fighting" itself to maintain traction and actually performs more poorly off-road. I'm heading out this weekend and taking my new Highlander into both types of terrain, and will gladly post what I experience here. Also, as described by another user, U.S. versions of the vehicle come with a tow hook that's included in the jack/repair equipment, which you just screw into the front bumper so a strap or hook rig can pull you out.

I have more than twenty years experience off-roading in the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada and the Highlander will easily take me to 90% of the places I want to go. For most people and most off-road conditions the Highlander will do just fine, it's only when people with inexperience see that Toyota corporate has put a "4X4" plate on the tailgate of the vehicle and out of pure ignorance think they're driving a true four-wheel drive who go out and get themselves in trouble. For those people I have no sympathy: Either know what the heck you're doing or don't get behind the wheel! Anyway, just my two cents....

FYIGMO
 

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2008 Highlander Base
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Off-roading update

Here's an update for new2kluger and others interested in the Highlander's off-road performance.

I just got back from two days in the Carrizo Badlands of the Anza-Borrego desert and put the Highlander through it's sand/dirt paces. Let me preface this by saying that I've been driving four-wheel drives for the past twenty-five years, from Samurai's to Jeeps and many vehicles in between, so I am well experienced at comparing this vehicle to a true 4X4. Anyway, it performed wonderfully! I'd recommend turning off the VSC/TRAC feature when generally off-road, but particularly in sand and loose dirt. The computer struggles too much to maintain traction and actually hurts the performance. With the VSC/TRAC off there's no problems, especially when climbing hills of dried mud or loose dirt. When you want to make sure VSC/TRAC is turned on is when you are descending ANY kind of hill made of loose material, particularly sandy/rocky gravel on hard ground. The Highlander sticks like an Alabama tick to the terrain and very competently descends with excellent control. The only terrain I wouldn't want to get this vehicle into is soft, deep sand. It would definitely dig in and you'd be in a world of trouble. Please note: Turn off the VSC/TRAC system at your own risk; my recommendation to do so was/is based on Toyota’s instructions to do so as illustrated and written in Chapter 2-4, pages 209-218 of your owners manual.

In summary, my comparison of the AWD Highlander to a true 4X4 with high and low ranges are this: Over rough, rocky terrain and climbing hills it's darn near equal to a 4X4 in high range, and in descents down sandy/slippery terrain it's (I know this sounds incredible, but I stand by this comment) equal to a 4X4 in low range. It's only limitation is deep sand. Toyota did a superb job with the computer system to monitor traction, and it shows off-road. I've read comments from others who say this vehicle will stay on snowy/icy roads when other AWDs and even 4X4s have slid off the road, and I'd say it's off-road performance is just as impressive.

For the really tough stuff I'll still use my Samurai, but for general off-road use I'm more than happy and comfortable with the Highlander.
 

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Kluger Driver
Toyota Kluger
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It is impressive. And I don't have any experience in 4WDing and I tried one of the track in Great Ocean Road in Melbourne and I struggled to get up a hill with dirt on it. And I did not turn off the traction control!

Lesson learnt and I will challenge it again!
 

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2008 Highlander Base
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Additional insight

Bumping this thread to add an observation about off-road use. The only significant weakness with the Highlander off-road is in a very specific circumstance when crossing a deep rut. Normally, when crossing a rut you want to have only one wheel down in the rut at any time, but on occasion circumstances do not allow you the freedom of movement to maneuver the HL into the proper position and you're forced to have, let's say, the right front and left rear in the ditch and left front and right rear outside. I've rarely had trouble with that situation in a true 4X4 in high-range, and in really deep ruts going into low-range and locking the hubs does the trick. The Highlander simply gets stuck and cannot power through, and just last weekend I had to backup down a winding narrow wash to find enough room to turn around.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching about the Highlander's lack of true 4X4 capability, but just pointing out an off-road weakness. I primarily use the HL because it is so damn comfortable compared to the Samurai, but when I reach no-go places like this I want to explore more I have no choice but to ramble in with the Samurai.

I'm including a photo below of me crossing the railroad trestles at the abandoned depot at Dos Cabezas in Anza Borrego. This crossing had a ramp of rocks and dirt built up to it, but earlier we crossed the same tracks a few miles away at a location with no ramp and it was rough! I ended up bending one of the bolts on a skid plate, and I pity the mechanic who has to take that sucker off some day. My brother-in-law's Armada fared little better, with a couple of busted clamps on his running boards. That's why I don't have running boards or mud guards on my Highlander.

 

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Requests: Off Road video and photos

TrailDust has some good info here (Thanks).
Does anyone have any pictures to post or YouTube links of 2008+ Gen Highlanders out in the wild?
 

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Aussie TN User
Toyota Kluger KX-S
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I'm keen to know whether there are any rated recovery points on the 2008 kluger. I don't want to get into any serious bush bashing, but to join a 4WD club here in Oz they are mandatory, even for light tracks.
 

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2008 Highlander Base
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I'm keen to know whether there are any rated recovery points on the 2008 kluger. I don't want to get into any serious bush bashing, but to join a 4WD club here in Oz they are mandatory, even for light tracks.
You bring up a good point regarding tow ratings on the Highlander, data which I've never seen. The recovery points on the front bumper, using the eyelet hook provided in the jacking tools, is pretty robust and I'd assume rated to at least 5,000 or 6,000 pounds...but who knows? The two tow hooks at the rear look weaker, and I'd have my reservations about putting too much weight on those. Nevertheless, when I go offroad I take one tow strap with a single hook at each end, rated to 6,000 pounds, and also a second tow strap with two hooks at each end rated to 12,000 pounds. Haven't used them yet for myself or anyone else. Be interested if anyone can produce data regarding the recovery point loads.
 

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Aussie TN User
Toyota Kluger KX-S
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You bring up a good point regarding tow ratings on the Highlander, data which I've never seen. The recovery points on the front bumper, using the eyelet hook provided in the jacking tools, is pretty robust and I'd assume rated to at least 5,000 or 6,000 pounds...but who knows? The two tow hooks at the rear look weaker, and I'd have my reservations about putting too much weight on those. Nevertheless, when I go offroad I take one tow strap with a single hook at each end, rated to 6,000 pounds, and also a second tow strap with two hooks at each end rated to 12,000 pounds. Haven't used them yet for myself or anyone else. Be interested if anyone can produce data regarding the recovery point loads.
The towing eyelet on the Kluger looks like an M24 (1 inch) thread. An M24 eyebolt used in a lifting application (ie vertically with a crane) is rated for 2.5 metric tonnes axially. However in a towing situation, the load will be applied with some sideways force which reduces the rated capacity of the eyelet (620kg for 90 degrees when lifting). The kluger eyelet has a very long shank which would reduce its rated capacity well below this. For lifting, a safety factor of 6 is used, whereas for towing/recovery a lower safety factor may be applied as the consequences of failure are slightly less. General rule of thumb I've seen is for a snatch strap to be rated 2-3 times the weight of the vehicle. I would not think the eyelet would be rated for 4-6 metric tonnes on the kluger. Of course where it connects to on the chassis would also need to have the same rating, and wasn't able to see that detail clearly.

From what I can see of the rear points, they look like ~8mm steel plate, which under static load would have an unfactored capacity of around 3 metric tonnes (that's axial loading only, without any reduction for sideways loading). Taking a safety factor into account it would be much less (say 1 tonne). They also appeear to be connected to the chasis by only a mild steel M10 or M12 bolt, which would have an unfactored capacity in shear of around 1.5-2tonne (I haven't taken the plastic parts off to get a better look). I would think these points are tie downs rather than towing or recovery.

I guess I've probably answered my own question here, and wouldn't really want to use any of those points for recovery as I have my suspicions about their rating.
 

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TrailDust - thanks for your detailed description of how the Highlander performed when you took it off-road. I am considering getting a 2006 Highlander AWD and was wondering if I could take it out on the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It sounds like you think the Highlander performs really well, except in deep sand. Is that right - would you recommend that I not try to take it out on the beach?

Thanks
 

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First of all let me say :welcome: to Toyota Nation! If you have any questions about the forums don't hesitate to send me a private message. :thumbsup:

You're welcome for the information. I'd say a lot depends on what kind of sand you have there in the Outer Banks. If it's very powdery, soft kind of sand I'd be worried, but if it's a more compact, hard type of sand then there's no problems. Also, as with any sand, if you air-down your tires to 15 to 25 PSI (depending on how soft the sand is) that'll always help you move across it. Sand is a judgment call and I wish I could see the sand you're talking about. I'd say if it's sand you'd have difficulty trudging through in bare feet then don't try it in your Highlander, but if it's firmer than that go for it. I usually have my OEM tires aired-down to 24 PSI in the desert, and have never been stuck while driving through sandy washes. Just remember to turn off your VSC/TRAC in loose sand. Remember, turn off the VSC/TRAC system at your own risk; my recommendation to do so was/is based on Toyota’s instructions to do so as illustrated and written in Chapter 2-4, pages 209-218 of your owners manual.


BTW, if you have any photos of the beach you're talking about by all means post them...I'd honestly love to see them.
 

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Thanks TrailDust - I sent you a PM with a link to some photos. And if it makes any difference, now I'm thinking about getting the Hybrid model of the 2006 AWD Highlander.
 

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Cowher--

I posted it in your Hybrid post, and I'll drop you a line here too...the Hybrid 4wd system is totally different from the non-hybrid models. Hybrids cannot disable the VSC/Trac system. There is no driveshaft transferring power from the gasoline engine to the rear wheels; the rear wheels are powered solely by an electric motor.
 

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lawfirm - thanks for the info, and please excuse my complete ignorance on this stuff, but would you say the difference in the AWD on the hybrid would make it better or worse on the sand compared to a regular Highlander?
 
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