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My question i this: Everyone keeps saying 3500 lbs for the HiHy, but when I finally got my hands on ours and read the manual fine print, that's with a BRAKED trailer. The manual says it's only 1000 lbs UN-BRAKED. Based on all we read and were told we thought we were well within specs with only a 1300 lb pop up camper. Did we screw up? Will pulling our un-braked camper void our warranty?
 

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Your towing specs - and thank you for reading through all the experiences - is no different from what it was before.

See, thing is, you will not get a clear answer to your question as it is a liability on manufacturer behalf for your new vehicle. I towed much more than 1000 lb with mine. people towed close to max if not more. No one ever had a definitive answer from dealer though saying - tow yey much.

From 2 years of owning a HiHy, I suggest only one thing - do it at your own risk. From personal experience - 1000 lb is nothing. i'd not be worried.

As of asking here and there. Stickies are no different from regular posts. I know 100% members read through them as thread always shows it has new post. You will have answer here just as you will in down below, same difference.
I am simply consolidating same recurring question. Yours is really no different.
 

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Hate to belabor the point, by ate you saying others tow over 1000 lbs un-braked with no trouble? That?s encouraging BUT when you say ?tow at your own risk? it sounds like you?re saying if anything goes wrong with us towing an unbraked 1300 pop up camper Toyota will not honor the warranty. We?re kinda up the creek without a paddle now, and it?s just upsetting after researching this ad nauseum to find out the 3500 lb capacity EVERY source told us, including our salesman (I have the emails), that it?s true only if what you?re towing has brakes. And we explicitly told our salesman what we were towing. NOTHNG says otherwise that I?ve been able to find except the manual. How many have access to that before buying?
 

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For quick reference:

The 1,000 pound figure is the trailer weight limit for a trailer without its own brakes.

The 3,500 pound figure is the trailer weight limit for a trailer with its own brakes.

The tongue weight limit should be approximately 10% of the trailer weight.
 

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Well guess we?re screwed, our popup camper is 1300 lbs, probably 1500 with a Coleman grill, folding table & chairs and a canopy we carry. Bought with salesmen assurances we could tow 3500 lbs with no caveats whatsoever and everything online saying the same had us thinking we easily had a 2000 lb cushion. ONLY after taking delivery and reading the manual did I find the fine print on brakes vs no brakes. Hopefully we can wet nurse this thing through the 1-2 trips we take each without any trouble!
 

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Well guess we?re screwed, our popup camper is 1300 lbs, probably 1500 with a Coleman grill, folding table & chairs and a canopy we carry. Bought with salesmen assurances we could tow 3500 lbs with no caveats whatsoever and everything online saying the same had us thinking we easily had a 2000 lb cushion. ONLY after taking delivery and reading the manual did I find the fine print on brakes vs no brakes. Hopefully we can wet nurse this thing through the 1-2 trips we take each without any trouble!


You’ll be fine.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Well guess we?re screwed, our popup camper is 1300 lbs, probably 1500 with a Coleman grill, folding table & chairs and a canopy we carry. Bought with salesmen assurances we could tow 3500 lbs with no caveats whatsoever and everything online saying the same had us thinking we easily had a 2000 lb cushion. ONLY after taking delivery and reading the manual did I find the fine print on brakes vs no brakes. Hopefully we can wet nurse this thing through the 1-2 trips we take each without any trouble!
You will not have any issues towing up to 2000 lbs with no brake controller, unless it is a law in your state. I’ve towed with all 3 generations of highlander hybrid with no issues. I towed a 2500lbs boat from Miami to SC, and then locally with my 2006,. It was a little tough getting out of steep wet boat ramps with only 2WD, but never a major problem. I also owned a 1500 lbs boat I pulled with my 2010, and I couldn’t even tell it was behind the Hybrid. Now I have a 2700lbs rpod travel trailer (almost 3500 with people and gear) that we DO use a brake controller with wdh and sway control.
But my question to you is how would Toyota know that you towed a 1300 lbs trailer with no brake controller. It’s a Toyota, so You will almost assuredly not have a transmission issue during The warranty period. Even if you did, how would toyota service rep know that you even pulled a trailer, much less a trailer over 1000 lbs with no brake controller? It’s not like they access DOT video cameras or sit you down with a detective for an investigation before they make repairs.
Besides state law, the only possible issue that you could have is if you ran into someone that had a very aggressive litigious lawyer. And they could somehow prove(with a very costly investigation) that your little trailer without brakes somehow contributed to the wreck.
Enjoy your trailer and just fallow your local towing laws.
Edit: this is just my experience on flat coastal terrain. I would imagine towing up or down steep Colorado mountain ranges would change the equation. I personally wouldnt use mine to tow over NC mountains. We have a truck for that.
 

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Unbraked Towing

Thanks, Beachguysc, and to others posting. Very reassuring. You're right, how would they know? Except in the past we had a transmission go out during a trip hauling the very same pop-up camper I'm asking about, so it would be very difficult to hide that we were towing it when calling for help on the side of the road 1000 miles from home. You've all been very helpful, and if I sound paranoid it's for good reason. We have a saying in the Kelly family that Murphy's Law was named after the wrong Irishman. I've lost count of the number of times technicians, repairmen and service people in all trades have exclaimed, "Never seen that before", "That's never happened" and "I have no idea what's going on." Those are exact quotes, I kid you not, ranging from computers to Internet to wifi to cars to home & appliance repairs. It's why I've learned to do my homework and due diligence before each and every purchase, especially one as much as our first house! But what you going to do? At some point you have to just go with the flow and chalk it up to another case of Kelly's Law. As for towing in particular, we went through six (6) transmissions with a 2002 and 2001 Honda Odyssey towing this camper, which the Honda V6 is supposed to handle. One was a recall and replaced before we ever had a problem, so that left three WE had to pay for if you don't count the one that came with each Odyssey when new. No one ever blamed what we were towing, and rest assured we asked just to be sure. Of course later I found out about TSB's on the very transmission we were replacing every 80K miles on average, and I've been told the Honda V6 is notoriously bad. But I digress .... Happy to know Toyota was recently among the BEST in reliability by Consumer Reports, and from what I've read here sounds like we should have no trouble with our 1, 2 or 3 camping trips a year with the grandkids, fingers crossed and Kelly's Law notwithstanding. Thanks again, GO 'STROS!
 

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I am very sorry to hear about your troubles and totally understand your concerns. I was very reluctant to tow with my HiHy but.... Now be it noted, mine actually has something added for towing, not sure what it is. there is sticker on the door and four flat hidden in the jack storage compartment.
This is, though, why when I mentioned my experiences - I added DAYOR. Do at your own risk.
Better safe than sorry. One thing those vehicles definitely are is very costly repairs.
 

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It's not same engine. Engine is downgraded on horse power because of the electric motor.
Also, there is no mechanical connection between engine and transmission, so to speak. It is all done via motor generator this is why they had to water down towing capacity. You can fry MG.
Final answer is - don't.
Wrong..... it is the same engine and there is a mechanical connection between engine and transmission. Let me elaborate and explain
The gr35 found in the 3rd gen highlander hybrid is the exact same engine found in the Lexus RX 3:50 And in regular non hybrid. This version is not (downgraded as your so eloquently put it lol) but runs a more aggressive akinson Cycle allowing The engine to be more efficient. Power output is reduced to 250 but Torque remains the same.
The engine torque is control by MG1. MG1 rotates the ring gear, while the engine rotates the planetary gear set. By slowing down MG1 to a rpm lower than the engine, the torque from the engine become the driving force to the wheels and MG2 supplies torque as well so I’m this case the engine is mechanically driving the wheels, for added gear ratios MG1 can spin the ring gear as the computer sees fit giving you the ratio/ acceleration needed. Towing rating is base the on the output of MG2 and its capability . That’s weakes link in the chain.
 

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If the trucks are similar to the cars, There is something called "Atkinson cycle." Everybody argues efficiency; but a Camry LE is 170 hp vs a TCH is 137 hp plus the electric to equal that 170. If you're inching along in traffic, a hybrid is perfect. The hybrid SUV is for CAFE standards, and Toyota likely didn't design them to do actual truck duties.
 

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I also have 2012 Highlander Hybrid with Toyota Tow Package. Getting ready to pull 3,500 for only 130 miles then back in couple days. Guess I better drive slow and give lots of room for brakes. Hope I do not hurt my CVT transmission. Will be warm weather and dry pavement. Any suggestions please let me know.
 

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Towing Lance 1575 travel trailer

I have a 2015 HHy limited platinum and am interested in towing this camper. I have the factory hitch and wiring, so I will add a Reese wireless Brake controller (still need to run 12v to the 7 pin connector.

The dry weight of this single axle camper is under 3000 lbs, but the GVWR is 3750, so I would need to be careful not to overload it. Just my wife and I camping normally, so not carrying two daughters in the Highlander.

Curious how the suspension will handle the tongue weight and how the electric motors will react to the increased load?
 

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Reason for reduced towing capacity in hybrid?

So I'm aware the Highlander Hybrid can only tow 3500 lbs vs 5000 lbs for the gas model. I'm curious if anyone knows WHY. The battery itself does not add 1500 lbs of weight so that cannot be the answer. I realize the Hybrid has both electric and gas engines, is this why? Can the electric engine not handle the payload? I am curious if I tried to tow 5000 lbs with the hybrid (while obviously above spec and maybe not the best for the warranty) if I would have issues. I am new to towing so I may not even know if this sounds right, but if the Hybrid has more horsepower then the gas, what is the reasoning with its lowered tow weight?

Has anyone here tried to tow with the hybrid >3500 lbs? I've read some people here exceeding 5000 lbs in the gas version on their own risk, so I am wondering if I tow 4000-4500 lbs with the hybrid (or even 5000 lbs) if I would have issues.
 

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It's because there is no direct connection between output engine shaft (it does not even have one, it's a dampener) and half axles. Entire power throughput is made via motor generator. Quite different in a conventional vehicle.
And yes, folks towed >3500 with HiHy. Did you look at the towing with HiHy thread up in stickies?
 

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I am doing a lot of research in this area .... I have a 2015 Highlander Hybrid, just installed a 7 pin trailer connector and a Redarc Brake controller and Firestone Airbags. I have a Hensley Swift Cub hitch ready to go and will eventually get a small travel trailer that weighs about 3000 lbs (max) dry (this does include full propane and bottles, individually weighed at production with all options, but does not include batteries or water or other additional cargo). With two of us taking weekend trips, we are not exceeding either cargo carrying capability or max trailer weight of 3500 lbs when loaded. Hitch weight is about 80 lbs, but I will be purchasing a LiFePO4 battery that will be inside the camper (weight is about 30-40 lbs) instead of using 2 lead acid batteries on the front that weight about 40-65 lbs each. I see frontal area of a camper being more of a 'drag' than the actual weight of the camper being an issue. In order to rate a vehicle officially for a tow rating the vehicle needs to have real-life verification towing something with frontal area (not sure how much) that meets certain criteria (grade of road, speed towing, braking, etc.)

Brakes: Gas and Hybrid versions have similar size calipers and rotors and brake material, so no loss of braking capability - may have more with regenerative braking. Camper will have drum brakes.

Suspension: Gas weighs less than hybrid. Air bags added will reduce sag as well as the Hensley hitch (WDH hitch). Springs are stiffer in the hybrid, cargo capacity of the Hybrid is lower because of added weight. With only 2 people in a 7 passenger vehicle, we are not carrying much in the vehicle when towing so we should be well under the GVWR even with a WDH setup that weighs 300-400 lbs tongue weight max.

Drivetrain: Gas is either FWD or AWD, Hybrid is essentially FWD with an electric motor to the rear wheels for iAWD. 6 or 8 speed transmission in the gas is the only item I could see being beefier on the Gas, thus allowing 5000 lbs towing capacity versus the Hybrid eCVT (which is also very beefy given how few failures I have heard of .... ) which may be the limiting factor of 3500 lbs. Reverse can only be driven by the electric motors (eCVT) - so you have much less horse power/torque available for reverse. Backing up a trailer may be the limiting factor.

Engine: Similar V6 - most of the engine is the same with a modified Atkinson Cycle for the Hybrid - makes it more efficient and lower horse power. Even so torque matters more the HP when towing, so it is doubtful that this is the limiting factor.

Cooling: Towing package on both includes upsized radiator. The transmission in the gas version needs to be kept cool. The fluid in the Hybrid version serves a different purpose (it is not for cooling but mainly for lubrication of the gears inside the eCVT, and is gravity fed, once pumped to the top, not pressurized throughout. - more like a differential). I have not heard of Hybrid owners having cooling issues with their cars, so it appears that the system is adequate.

I have been towing a 40' fifth wheel with a 1 ton diesel for 13 years, so I am in for a big change (size, power, etc.)

Looking for others to chime in that have towed with the Highlander (and Hybrid specifically)
 

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I ended up towing a Uhaul 6x12 enclosed trailer this weekend with my 2016 Highlander Hybrid (V6 AWD as all the hybrids are with a Curt Class 3 hitch). Roughly 2000 lbs unloaded. Not sure how much the weight was loaded, but it was filled floor to roof front to back with heavy furniture and boxes of books, etc. Maybe 3000-3500 lbs total? 4000? Not sure. It definitely felt heavy. Unloaded and I barely felt it on the highlander. When fully loaded it definitely needed more power but I had no trouble going uphill, etc. Drove about 300 miles total with it on a very hilly road. Mostly drove 55 mph while loaded and 65 mpg unloaded. Averaged 19-20 mpg the whole way even with the hills so I'm pretty happy with the hybrid towing capability. Never had any issues, a.c. on the whole way, whenever I felt like it needed extra power I could give it more gas and it would go without a problem even under tall hills and such.
 
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