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Old 01-17-2019, 11:47 PM   #1
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17B tow vehicle: Highlander, Ridgeline, Pilot?

New to this with an older Escape 17B and looking for vehicle to tow it. Leaning towards a recent (2017+) Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot or Honda Ridgeline. All have their pros and cons. Does anyone have personal experience with any of these for towing, to help guide our decision? (PS Subaru Ascent also a maybe but probably too new to assess.)
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:58 AM   #2
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New to this with an older Escape 17B and looking for vehicle to tow it. Leaning towards a recent (2017+) Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot or Honda Ridgeline. All have their pros and cons. Does anyone have personal experience with any of these for towing, to help guide our decision? (PS Subaru Ascent also a maybe but probably too new to assess.)
We towed our new 17B with an older model Pilot. No issues except it was a bit hard going on long hills. However newer model Pilots have bigger tow capacities and older Escapes are lighter so expect you would have no problems. We loved our Pilot otherwise, but had to sell it when we went to a 21 and needed something much beefier.
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Old 01-18-2019, 04:05 PM   #3
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I tow 17a w a 2018 Highlander and towed other previous trailers w a 2005 and 2013 Highlander. It’s been flawless—just be sure you have v6 engine. Some earlier models (my2005) only had 3500 tow rating but now late models have 5000. I have driven my son’s ridgeline. I like it a lot and the back seat is really nice. My only concern would be the side/rear visibility. Don’t know about its tow rating.
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Old 01-18-2019, 04:47 PM   #4
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I tow 17a w a 2018 Highlander and towed other previous trailers w a 2005 and 2013 Highlander. It’s been flawless—just be sure you have v6 engine. Some earlier models (my2005) only had 3500 tow rating but now late models have 5000. I have driven my son’s ridgeline. I like it a lot and the back seat is really nice. My only concern would be the side/rear visibility. Don’t know about its tow rating.
I towed my 2015 17B with a 2006 Ridgeline more than 25000 miles without issue. I definitely knew the trailer was there, high rpm's on hills, never felt unsafe or dangerous. About 11MPG towing. My current tow vehicle is a 2014 Nissan Frontier, much more truck-like ride, larger engine 4L vs 3.5, more torque, better MPG around 14. Best of luck. Dave
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:33 PM   #5
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I have a 2019 Honda Ridgeline AWD and am using it to tow my Escape 19. I absolutely love it. Handles like a car, but tows like a truck.
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Old 01-18-2019, 09:49 PM   #6
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We tow a 2011 19ft. with a 2014 Highlander. We have no problems and we have some pretty challenging mountain passes here. We went to check out a new Honda Pilot a couple of days ago and were told we would need a transmission cooler- something we don't need for the Highlander. We also liked the interior layout of the Highlander better. (Bigger console and dash shelf). We also checked out the GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma but I don't think we could get used to the more cramped interiors after having the Highlander.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:08 PM   #7
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Perhaps your Highlander didn't need the transmission fluid cooler because it comes standard? I know that there were several desirable things for towing that were optional in the US and standard in Canada.
Any comparison has to be between specific vehicles.
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:28 PM   #8
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Perhaps your Highlander didn't need the transmission fluid cooler because it comes standard? I know that there were several desirable things for towing that were optional in the US and standard in Canada.
Any comparison has to be between specific vehicles.
To be honest, I don't know if my Highlander has a transmission cooler, now that you mention it. It was never discussed when we bought it 4 years ago.
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:10 AM   #9
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The transmission cooler is a standard thing w tow package.
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:16 AM   #10
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Another factor for the decision would be how you intend to use the vehicle when you’re not camping. The highlander can seat 7 or 8 depending on year and with two people the seats fold down for a lot of interior room. The ridgeline seats 5 and the truck Bed would carry things outside the cab but you’d need a cover or shell for security.
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:32 AM   #11
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Since 2014 The Highlander towing capacity is dependent upon the trim level. The XLE and Limited Highlanders have a towing capacity of 5000 lbs, and include a transmission oil cooler. Lower trim lines have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs, and wouldn't work.

We have towed our 2014 Escape 21 around most of the continental US and Western Canada with a 2014 Highlander XLE, and have been pleased with the towing experience. We towed our previous trailer, a 2012 Escape 17b from Minnesota to its new owner who lived in Olympia Washington, again with no issues or complaints. The newer Highlanders have 25 more horsepower and some more torque. you will want to tow with a weight distribution hitch. My only nit is that I wish I had gotten an all-wheel drive version, but that is only for picking the trailer up from storage in the winter when there is usually a lot of ice in the storage lot.
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:17 PM   #12
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Since 2014 The Highlander towing capacity is dependent upon the trim level. The XLE and Limited Highlanders have a towing capacity of 5000 lbs, and include a transmission oil cooler. Lower trim lines have a towing capacity of 1500 lbs, and wouldn't work.
As the manual shows, that's the difference between having the towing preparation package and not having it. While the towing package may be associated with the trim level in some markets and some years, I wouldn't assume this in general... particularly in Canada.

Currently, the towing capacity is listed by Toyota Canada - without notations or qualifications - as 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) for all trim levels. It looks like Toyota USA is listing a suitable package and resulting 5000 pound towing capacity for all variants except for the four-cylinder (which is only available as a base model in 2WD).
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:29 PM   #13
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Thanks to everyone who responded to my initial query. My wife and I test drove all the vehicles in the original query (Highlander, Ridgeline, Pilot, all rated to 5000 lb towing capacity) as well as a couple mid-size trucks (Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, both rated to 7000-7500 lb towing capacity) and a full size truck (Ford F150). We unfortunately could not perform the most important test, that of towing our actual trailer (dry wt 1900 lb but we used 3000 for planning purposes), so what follows is based on driving only the vehicle on highways (110 kph speed limit), curvy dippy country roads and city streets. [The disclaimer: We made the following assessments based on our personal preferences, and of course others would come to different conclusions.] Of the first three, we much preferred the Honda Ridgeline and Pilot over the Toyota Highlander in terms of handling, road feel, tight steering, and responsiveness to the gas and brake pedals. The Hondas also seemed to be outfitted with more fancy new electronics than the Highlander, especially on the base models. Between the two mid-size trucks, we preferred the ride, handling and responsiveness of the Ford Ranger (brought back from the dead in 2019) over the Toyota Tacoma. (We would have also tried a Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon if our search had taken longer.) The Ford F150 was big and cruisy, and if we were going to go on a very long trip (across Canada?) then it might be the best option: less stress on the drive train, and possibly more fuel efficient because the engine would be working less and the truck-trailer combo possibly more aerodynamic.

In the end it was a decision between:
1) A compact pickup truck that would be a bit better for towing (more power) but not as good for our type of day-to-day tasks, not as comfortable a ride, and more difficult and expensive to get both secure storage and a kayak-capable roof rack. Our preference here was the Ranger.
2) An SUV style that would be good for day-to-day tasks and pretty good for towing, providing a protected secure area in the back for ‘stuff’, and an easy and comparatively inexpensive option for roof racks capable of safely carrying two 18’ sea kayaks at highway speeds. Our preference here was the Honda Pilot.

Additional things we considered was a preference for a single all purpose vehicle, rather than one for town and another for travel, which tipped us towards an SUV style. Thus, yesterday we purchased a 2016 Honda Pilot and are getting it outfitted with a Tow Package and Brake Controller. In truth, we couldn’t test everything and we probably would have been happy with any of the above options for towing but each would have been a compromise of some sort, so it depends what criteria you want to focus on.
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:12 PM   #14
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I went through a similar process and ended up with a Honda Ridgeline with a standard tow package. But I don't yet have a trailer or a brake controller. Baby steps I guess. I'm really liking the Ridgeline, especially in all of this snow.
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Old 02-09-2019, 03:27 PM   #15
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Honda Pilot is a solid SUV, drove a 2008 Pilot for 10 years with no issues other than airbag recall
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:43 PM   #16
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2017 Highlander's towing capacity is 5000 lb. with 295 hp V6 engine. Dealer installed the hitch with 7 pin and electric brake controller. We have no problem towing a 3000 lb trailer, 2 kayaks, 2 mountain bikes plus camping equipment.
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