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I just got back from our first trip towing our camper. It's an Apex Nano 193bhs. We have an XLE with tow package, Tekonsha P3 brake controller, and Equalizer 6000 lb weight distribution hitch.

The trip was 300 miles from Coeur D'alene Idaho to Seattle. We got 11.5mpg average which is great considering we cross Snoqualmie Pass. The Highlander easily handled the job mostly at a cruising rpm of 3400 or so. I'm very happy with the result.


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I just got back from our first trip towing our camper. It's an Apex Nano 193bhs. We have an XLE with tow package, Tekonsha P3 brake controller, and Equalizer 6000 lb weight distribution hitch.

The trip was 300 miles from Coeur D'alene Idaho to Seattle. We got 11.5mpg average which is great considering we crossed Snoqualmie Pass. The Highlander easily handled the job mostly at a cruising rpm of 3400 or so. I'm very happy with the result.
Nice. Did you happen to measure fuel economy? I'm curious what the hit is. Also what gear did you tow in? (D or S4)
 

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11.5 miles per gallon. I towed in D. The manual says not to use cruise control but I did most of the time. Apparently using S4 keeps the transmission from hunting. I didn't notice any hunting or strain in upshifting. It worked great.

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11.5 miles per gallon. I towed in D. The manual says not to use cruise control but I did most of the time. Apparently using S4 keeps the transmission from hunting. I didn't notice any hunting or strain in upshifting. It worked great.
Thanks. How fast were you towing?
 

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I'm confused. How do you tow in D and have RPM reading of 3400?
"D" doesn't mean the tranny is always in high gear, as the tranny has to take into account the trailer breaking wind, any head wind, and altitude, plus account for maintaining 65mph, tranny was probably in 4th gear a lot.
 

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I would be interested in seeing your hitch set up/hook up if you have any pictures of that. We plan to take a trip from Bonney Lake to Spokane with a 19' travel trailer.
 

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Page 218 of the owner's manual says that you should not tow in D because you will burn up your transmission. It says you should tow in S4 or higher (meaning S3 or S2, S1.) I towed a trailer but it wasn't as heavy as your trailer and I towed it in S5 and S4.
 

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Page 218 of the owner's manual says that you should not tow in D because you will burn up your transmission. It says you should tow in S4 or higher (meaning S3 or S2, S1.) I towed a trailer but it wasn't as heavy as your trailer and I towed it in S5 and S4.
Interesting, I don't see that listed anywhere in my '17 owner's manual.
 

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Interesting, I don't see that listed anywhere in my '17 owner's manual.
Page 211 in the 2017 manual.

● To maintain engine braking efficiency and charging system perfor-
mance when using engine braking, do not put the transmission in D. If in the S mode, the transmission shift range position must be in 6 (8-speed models) or 4 (6-speed models) or lower.
 

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Page 211 in the 2017 manual.

● To maintain engine braking efficiency and charging system perfor-
mance when using engine braking, do not put the transmission in D. If in the S mode, the transmission shift range position must be in 6 (8-speed models) or 4 (6-speed models) or lower.
Exactly. Transmission temperature was normal the whole time. I'm going to tow in S6 next time and will see how it's different.

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Page 211 in the 2017 manual.

● To maintain engine braking efficiency and charging system perfor-
mance when using engine braking, do not put the transmission in D. If in the S mode, the transmission shift range position must be in 6 (8-speed models) or 4 (6-speed models) or lower.
Correct me if I'm wrong but this specifically applies to engine braking when towing downhill. This would not apply for towing on flat roads. I see nothing in my manual that states on flat roads, towing in D is harmful to the vehicle.
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong but this specifically applies to engine braking when towing downhill. This would not apply for towing on flat roads. I see nothing in my manual that states on flat roads, towing in D is harmful to the vehicle.
That is the conclusion I came to, as well. I think the computer is smart enough to basically select the right gear based on the all the sensor's inputs.
 

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It's not that the computer doesn't know what gear to pull in based on load and speed but it's how it accomplishes this. The clutches and gearing are not designed for the high stress loads of hauling an additional 3500 lbs. Do a google search and there are video and links that explain the mechanics of if much better than I can in this post. And as mentioned above, the temp gauge is the engine coolant temp and not the transmission temp.
 

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It's not that the computer doesn't know what gear to pull in based on load and speed but it's how it accomplishes this. The clutches and gearing are not designed for the high stress loads of hauling an additional 3500 lbs. Do a google search and there are video and links that explain the mechanics of if much better than I can in this post. And as mentioned above, the temp gauge is the engine coolant temp and not the transmission temp.
I don't think this is correct at all. The transmission absolutely has its own temperature gauge and will, in fact, go into a limp mode if overheated. The transmission is absolutely rated to pull 5000 pounds and it is durability tested at this load when the vehicle is being developed.
 

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It's not that the computer doesn't know what gear to pull in based on load and speed but it's how it accomplishes this. The clutches and gearing are not designed for the high stress loads of hauling an additional 3500 lbs. Do a google search and there are video and links that explain the mechanics of if much better than I can in this post. And as mentioned above, the temp gauge is the engine coolant temp and not the transmission temp.
What are you talking about? The transmission has two temperature sensors accessible via the OBD2 port. For 2017 the Highlander has a brand new 8-speed UA80 aisin high torque transmission. Maybe you're referring to an older version? I can tell you from direct experience that it tows effortlessly and the temperature is normal during towing. It also has a high temperature warning light which I have never seen on. Maybe you should post the Google videos you're referring to?



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I would be interested in seeing your hitch set up/hook up if you have any pictures of that. We plan to take a trip from Bonney Lake to Spokane with a 19' travel trailer.
Army- For towing my 19 foot, 3700 pound travel trailer I have a OEM hitch and a Fastway E2 Weight Distribution Hitch rated for 6000 pounds. Towing in S4 with my 2nd Gen Highlander gets me between 11 and 12 mpg going 65 mph.

https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distribution/Fastway/FA92-00-0600.html

BTW, towing in Drive is a good way to overheat the transmission. I believe the manual specifically states to lock out overdrive when towing.




 
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