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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I totally missed the detail on the wheels while we were at the dealer looking at this particular Highlander. Came home with the vehicle and while I was outside doing some cleaning on it, I noticed some odd mating surfaces on the wheel. After looking at it over, the limited "20-in. chrome wheels" is nothing but a modernize fancy version of a hub cap. This chrome portion on wrapped around the spoke but I have yet to pull the wheel off to see how it is secure onto the wheel itself.
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2015 Highlander LE Plus
2021 Highlander XSE
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The chrome cover is a plastic piece that’s fused to the aluminum wheel. It can’t be removed or repaired if damaged, so when the wheel gets scuffed from a curb your only option is to replace it at $400+ each.
 

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I understand what you're seeing is shocking. Let me explain what that is...
You've got what are called Chromtec wheels. It's essentially a piece of chromed plastic glued to an alloy wheel. DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE IT!!! It's not designed to come apart. It's a way to create the appearance of chrome wheels using a simpler and less-expensive process.

Toyota started putting them on Highlander back in 2014, on both the Limited and Platinum trim levels. (For the current gen, 2020+, they're only on Limited.) Other car manufacturers have used them for over 10 years, so it's not new. I don't know if Toyota uses them on other models.

Since the outer surface is plastic, repairing it is not an option. If you do damage the surface of the wheel, you'll have to replace the entire wheel.

If you don't damage it, I think it works pretty well. I had a set on a 2016 Highlander. It's very easy to clean and mine didn't have any issues with road salt. For comparison, I had a 2006 4Runner with real chrome wheels that were corroding in just a few short years.

If you get over the initial shock of "my wheels have plastic covers", you may find that it's not really an issue.
 

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if u scratch the plastic hub cover, just leave it be and don't worry about replacing it or the entire wheel, it's a plastic cover no need to worry about it.
 

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Don't fret over it. The quality is there and it looks good. It's like comparing laminated/engineered vs real wood beams. They're durable and are easy to clean /maintain.
 

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2020 Highlander Plat, 2000 Camry LE
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2020 platinum doesn’t have those covers. Only the limited.
 

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Another cheap "solution" from Toyota like using vinyl ("Softex") instead of real leather for the seats.
I like Softex, Leatherette (or any replacement) more than the finest leather. Leather requires too much maintenance IMO. I has been there with Laguna leather and just the replacement of the “butt” cover cost me $745+.

I just purchased a 2015 BMW with 70K miles and there is no sign of use on the driver’s seat, Leatherette.


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Another cheap "solution" from Toyota like using vinyl ("Softex") instead of real leather for the seats.
If Toyota's Softex holds up as well as Mercedes MB Tex I'll take it any day over leather. There are 30+ year old Benzs with MB Tex seats with very little wear.
 

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Plastic DIp is cheap, works, and you can probably get the neighborhood ricer kids to help you, or you can buy new wheels....
 

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20 Ruby Platinum HL, 19 Lexus UX200, 17 Yaris iA
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Chroming aluminum has been problematic forever.

You still have a real alloy wheel.

It would be nice if you could replace the cover.

But any wheel you damage is damaged!

My Platinum wheels are nice but not “that” nice.

Be nice if you could order your wheels like some other brands or allow you to get the Lexus wheels or something.

There are threads about these wheels and someone complaining that they did not get chrome wheels as stated and were somehow compensated.....
 

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Glad I'm looking at lower level Highlanders. I would not be happy with this rim at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The chrome cover is a plastic piece that’s fused to the aluminum wheel. It can’t be removed or repaired if damaged, so when the wheel gets scuffed from a curb your only option is to replace it at $400+ each.
If it ever happened to get messed up that bad (knock on wood), I may just end up going aftermarket or get some Lexus wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I understand what you're seeing is shocking. Let me explain what that is...
You've got what are called Chromtec wheels. It's essentially a piece of chromed plastic glued to an alloy wheel. DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE IT!!! It's not designed to come apart. It's a way to create the appearance of chrome wheels using a simpler and less-expensive process.

Toyota started putting them on Highlander back in 2014, on both the Limited and Platinum trim levels. (For the current gen, 2020+, they're only on Limited.) Other car manufacturers have used them for over 10 years, so it's not new. I don't know if Toyota uses them on other models.

Since the outer surface is plastic, repairing it is not an option. If you do damage the surface of the wheel, you'll have to replace the entire wheel.

If you don't damage it, I think it works pretty well. I had a set on a 2016 Highlander. It's very easy to clean and mine didn't have any issues with road salt. For comparison, I had a 2006 4Runner with real chrome wheels that were corroding in just a few short years.

If you get over the initial shock of "my wheels have plastic covers", you may find that it's not really an issue.
Thank you for the information. I am still in shock that on this higher trim model, this is the type of wheels that essentially came with the package. Originally, we were looking for an XLE, but we cannot find a hybrid AWD in a few color option/combo that my wife wanted. Most of the dealer that we either visited or talked to online within 500 miles do not have a lot of options on hybrid especially in AWD. Then we ran into one dealer that have the exact color combo and the powertrain that she wanted which is how we ended up with one in Limited Trim. I am not even a fan of chrome wheels, but now we are stuck with Chromtec wheels. Lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you everyone for your feedback. Aside from my griping on a couple of things here and there, my wife like the Highlander (her ride) and I enjoyed driving it myself. Moving to the Highlander from a 2014 Odyssey was a big change for us...a lot more tech, quite, and more comfortable.
 

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Our other vehicle is a 2015 Ram 1500. Same deal...plastic chrome cover stuck on an alloy wheel. It has not been an issue at all except where another truck driver rubbed his bumper up against one of them. I run it damaged because, well, it's a truck and who really cares? If that had happened to our HL, his insurance would have been replacing it.
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So I totally missed the detail on the wheels while we were at the dealer looking at this particular Highlander. Came home with the vehicle and while I was outside doing some cleaning on it, I noticed some odd mating surfaces on the wheel. After looking at it over, the limited "20-in. chrome wheels" is nothing but a modernize fancy version of a hub cap. This chrome portion on wrapped around the spoke but I have yet to pull the wheel off to see how it is secure onto the wheel itself.

Actually, worse than a modern version of a fancy hubcap because if damaged you have to replace the whole wheel.

Well you ain't the only one. I got skunked the same way with my Limited, a plastic wheel cover on an alloy wheel. Just screams " cheap is as cheap does". When discovered months later, went to the dealer and pointed out the Maroney sticker said chrome wheels and chrome wheels they ain't, insisting he make me whole. Even though a good repeat customer, he wouldn't swap with a Platinum but did offer a new Platinum for the price differential of the Maroneys on my 750 mile "used" Limited and the new Platinum plus he ate all taxes on the price differential, transfer of tags and all dealer prep and processing fees. Won't make that mistake again, and worth every nickel of the cost!

Another cheap "solution" from Toyota like using vinyl ("Softex") instead of real leather for the seats.
Better great durable Softex in a sporty scooter like the Rav than less durable leather. The Softex premium polymer in the Rav heats up less than traditional 70s era vinyl.....many a day of burned thighs after the Impala convertible was open to the Sun in a beach parking lot.

And I agree real leather is superior to Softex, problem is that one can't find real leather in a ride under $100K. What one does get for that is "bonded leather", i.e. powdered leather dust mixed with a polymer bonding and coloring agents, melted and applied using a die with a leather pattern finish on to a neutral substrate backing. Bonded leather is to dyed cow hide what hamburger is to filet mignon!

I have no problem with, or precautions to take, against dye transfer when sitting on my Softex with a pair of rain drenched jeans or never washed new jeans, but would never do so without a towel or other covering on my grey leather. Plant one's a$$ in new jeans too often on bonded leather in any color but black and like in Macbeth all the scrubbing in the world won't get out that damned spot.
 

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Another cheap "solution" from Toyota like using vinyl ("Softex") instead of real leather for the seats.
First of all who wants leather or vinyl seats do you live in a place devoid of sunlight and heat? Maybe you do not wear shorts or have a callused rear but both are so 1950's! Fabric will wear better, be softer against the skin and not be prone to burning your flesh when you get in!
 
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