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Towing the the Highlander Hybrid

Could you pls share your experiences in towing with the Highlander Hybrid?

We are thinking about replacing our 07 Sienna AWD have looked at the 14 Highlander (test driven the gas but would like to look into the hybrid).

One factor is that it needs to be able to tow our tent trailer (perhaps 3000 lbs GVW) which we use about 4 - 6x/year between June and oct. Our Sienna has the same tow rating, but wasn't sure if gas or hybrid makes a difference in terms of ability and how well it tows.

Would appreciate some insight from others.
 

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Resident Nutcase
'08 Highlander Limtd
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This is the only post that I know of about towing with a hybrid:

I just had to move from Ohio to Texas with my 08 Highlander Hybrid.
I had a hitch installed at Uhaul and got their biggest trailer, the 12x6 size.
I had a washer, dryer, a lot of furniture and electronics, so the trailer was super heavy.
My MPG went from 27 to 13, but it towed it safely to Texas.
 

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I tow with my '09 HH a couple times a month. 2000 lbs tent trailer, one or two atvs etc. never had a problem. I used to have a full sized pickup with a 350 in it, obviously I do feel a difference between the two.

The fuel economy sucks when towing, but that is true for all vehicles.



This picture was taken after arriving through a horrible snowstorm, I had no problem whatsoever towing through it. (FYI, I do have snow tires.)
 

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June 2nd planning on towing a GulfStream Visa 19ft Trailer from Toronto to Cedar point with a 2013 HH. (~3000lbs)

Towed Snowmobile Trailers and Boats no problem from here to South River (1 hr north of Huntsville)
 

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I want to tow a 3000 lb tent trailer with my 07 HiHy but the dealer says its impossible to use a brake controller with any hybrid. Sounds like BS to me. Any experience?
 

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'08 Highlander Limtd
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Unless they are concerned about the current capacity of the inverter/DC-DC converter that feeds the 12V battery (whichever one it is, I'm not 100% up to spec on the hybrid system) not being able to provide enough current for a brake controller, I see no reason why you can't.
 

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I believe the gorillas at the RV shop went to the wrong wire for the brake signal, which is why ABS, traction control, and regen braking shut down when they powered up the Primus IQ controller. I think need instructions for finding the correct place to tap in for the brake signal.
-Weird Howard
 

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My 06 HH had been towing fine. Then last fall when we took out pontoon boat out, it refused to pull the boat out of the water. I eventually got it out with 1 extra man power (my buddy in back pouching on the car). It was very disappointing.
Hybrids are for light towing. The 1st gen need a LSD, but is stuck with a open diff. I don't know if the 14'' has better diffs.
 

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The pleasant, patient tech at Tekonsha told me that the safe bet for installing a trailer brake controller is to pick up the brake signal at the brake lamp. This was easily done at the blue wire in the left rear light cluster access panel. Half an hour of carefully routing a wire to the controller plug gave me working trailer brakes.
Weird Howard
 

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I can't be certain as I just don't know much about the first gens, let alone the first gen hybrids, but you can look for a transmission cooler. It would be a sure tell way of finding out if you have any kind of OEM towing equipment. It should be somewhere behind the bumper cover, likely on the lower driver side. It will look something like this (without the plastic air-redirect mounted on front):

It will be a radiator about 2-3" by 7-8"
Dredging up an old Topic, since it's the exact question I have.

My story is the exact same. Need to tow a small camper (approx 2400 GVWR).

  • Researched the internet, found nothing
  • Found press releases (on this site) that state the tow package is standard on the 2006 Hybrid
  • Spoke to my dealer. Was told (without them looking at the vehicle) that no hybrid has a tow package. When I asked what the small radiator behind the bumper cover was, I was told it was for the inverter.
  • Called Toyota, waiting on hold, and the "Technical Expert" basically said they couldn't see it on the VIN, so it can't have it. I described the press release, and he gave me the direction of "Go back to the dealer, have them put it on a lift and look to see if it's there"

So, what do you guys think, Is the radiator for the Transmission, or for the inverter?

*EDIT* I did have the tow HITCH put on a few years ago, and the Highlander was prewired to accept the convertor to make the 4 pin.

 

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Towing 3500 lbs -- is it realistic?

I'm shopping for a new SUV. I tow a 3500 lb trailer about 6 or 8 times a year, in the Northeastern U.S., mostly small hills but some longer climbs through the Appalachians. Overall, I drive about 20,000 miles/yr, of that about 3000 to 4000 miles is towing. Have never had a hybrid before (never had a Toyota, for that matter). The MPG ratings are obviously attractive, and the Highlander seems like a very comfortable vehicle. Also considering the non-hybrid Highlander, and other non-hybrid mid-sized SUV's.


My questions:
1. Does anyone have experience towing 3000 to 3500 lbs with a 2014 or 2015 Highlander Hybrid? Any problems?
2. How will the CVT transmission handle towing? Is it strong enough? Will it keep the engine at the proper RPM when towing up a hill?
3. How well will the regenerative braking work? Any concerns about the effectiveness of this system, with a 3500 lb trailer behind? (the trailer has 4-wheel electric brakes and I will install a brake controller in the Highlander).
4. I have read reports that the hybrid system on older (pre-2014) Highlanders "shuts down" if overloaded (e.g. on long, steep hills) or if traction is poor (snow, steep/wet areas) ... is this still the case with the 2014-2015 models? Any remedies?


I have searched the Forum and read previous posts on towing, particularly CedarMtn's problems with boat ramps, and the guy who towed a U-Haul from Ohio to Texas. Most of the posts are about earlier models (pre-2014), and I don't know if the 2014-2015 models are any different. It appears that very, very few people tow anything with a Highlander Hybrid, which worries me.


Any advice (or better yet, actual real-world experience) much appreciated. THANKS!
 

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Best for towing...

I have two Highlanders: A 2001 V6 Limited and a 2008 Hybrid Limited and need to tow a 7x12 cargo trailer from CA to the Colorado Rockies. Which do you feel would be best for this purpose?
Thanks ahead of time...
 

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If the 2001 has a towing package on it. I would use it. I tow with my 2009 Highlander Hybrid and while it does a good job towing a 3,000 lb trailer I would feel more comfortable towing with a gas engine over the Hybrid because you can down shift if needed going down the Rockies. I remember the brakes on my old Land Cruiser feeling a little mushy by the time I reached the bottom of the mountain. It doesn't seem to take too long for the generator to start to hum when the display shows fully charged on my HH. And I am talking a 3,000 foot mountain not the Rockies.
But then again your regular Highlander is 7 years older so it is a toss up which one is better. Enjoy your trip whichever vehicle you choose.
 

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If the 2001 has a towing package on it. I would use it. I tow with my 2009 Highlander Hybrid and while it does a good job towing a 3,000 lb trailer I would feel more comfortable towing with a gas engine over the Hybrid because you can down shift if needed going down the Rockies. I remember the brakes on my old Land Cruiser feeling a little mushy by the time I reached the bottom of the mountain. It doesn't seem to take too long for the generator to start to hum when the display shows fully charged on my HH. And I am talking a 3,000 foot mountain not the Rockies.
But then again your regular Highlander is 7 years older so it is a toss up which one is better. Enjoy your trip whichever vehicle you choose.
Thank you for your quick reply. I have the towing package on the 2001 Gas Highlander but it has 200k miles and might not have the pep. I'm leaning toward getting a brake controller put in the 2008 Hybrid (the trailer I bought has brakes). From what you describe, the HH handled your 3000# trailer going up hill... I will monitor the dash for temp readings. My trailer will be maxed at the HH 3500# limit. PS My HH has 120k miles on it. I will post results after said trip...
 

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How tall is the trailer?

I pull a 7x16 v-nose cargo trailer that's 2' taller than my car, and I can say aero drag is one of the biggest issues. In fact it limits me to about 70mph (not that i'd want to go much faster) If the hybrid system makes 270hp like it says, you shouldn't have an issue with power. I pull mine at or slightly above 5klb and can still do 60-65mph in hills reasonably well, 55 in mountains. Trans temps will be interesting though, I've added a 2nd cooler (so 2 transmission radiators now) to compensate and it still gets toasty (260F). Might be worth looking into.

But yeah, I'd use the hybrid, brakes will be better, power will be better, and the overall size of the vehicle will help in how it handles the trailer. +1 on trailer brakes though. I've run without them, it will stop, but its not fun.
 

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If you are pulling 3,500lbs that far, you need a brake controller if you use the 2008. Most states legally require at 1,500lbs/2,000lbs.

Another thing that makes towing A LOT easier is if you get a weight distribution hitch. They can be pricey; I got a used one off Craigslist for a great price and it makes towing heavy loads a real breeze in comparison - balancing the vehicle and trailer as well as stabilizing the trailer. It will track directly with the tow vehicle and not sway or push - especially a taller trailer (I used to tow horses frequently). This is what I am talking about:

http://www.etrailer.com/faq-weightdistribution.aspx
 
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