I know this is an old thread but I find it funny how the owners manual changed from 2nd gen to 3rd gen.This vehicle was never really intended for off road driving according to our manual and it is true that there are better AWD systems out there but for it to be able to do this, I say that's pretty good considering the sensitive traction control system, the lack of terrain option and basic AWD open diff system. 😁
I also completely agree with the OPs line of thought. We recently bought a 2021 Highlander and the front end is extremely low. I don’t care if you say that crossovers (or midsize SUVs whatever you wish to call them) should not be used for off-roading, they should all have enough approach angle to not rub their large chins on curbs and parking stops. I’ve had to be very careful about not pulling all the way forward until the wheels stop because I don’t want to rub my bumper. You can definitely see the clearance difference in this picture of 2nd gen Vs 4th gen.