Setting up our Highlander for Towing - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 10-17-2010, 12:37 PM   #1
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Setting up our Highlander for Towing

We just bought a new Toyota Highlander and will be setting it up for towing our 17B. We replaced our Honda Odyssey which we used for this past summer, which was our first as Escape owners. The Highlander does not have the towing package. Any opinions on if I am better off to take it to the dealership for having a hitch and brake controller installed (if they even do them), or should I take it to a company who specializes in hitches?
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:42 PM   #2
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

we went to a 3rd party for our hitch, they also installed the brake controller - it was way cheaper than Toyota.. also I highly suggest mudflaps!!
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:32 PM   #3
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

Thanks jeff, any other modifications? The owners manual does not say if I need a transmission cooler or a power steering cooler. I suppose the dealership could tell me, but you may know.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:04 PM   #4
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

Can't help you there.. we got our highlander with the tow/package so it was already set to go. We did put a Sears X-cargo box on top and used it for the grill and other stuff.. it was perfect for the longer trips and quite affordable, I want to say around $200.00 - it performed perfectly, everything stayed dry and felt well made.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:03 PM   #5
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

In Canada, the RAV4 comes with transmission oil cooler and whatever else they consider "tow package". In the U.S. these are optional.

So, check with your dealer to see what the Highlander is equipped with. Could already be in place as standard equipment.

On the RAV, the Toyota hitch was only class two and cost about $400 more than from a third party. And, the Toyota dealer brought in the third party installer to do the work. I got a class 3 hitch, required for the equalizer, wiring with extra heavy ground and brake controller installed for about $650.

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Old 10-17-2010, 06:39 PM   #6
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

If your Toyota dealer is anything like ours (in Syracuse, NY) they won't touch anything not made by Toyota, and only then if it is an "official" modification. For example. they would run the Toyota 4 wire trailer cable for my RAV4 (they don't come with wiring even if you order the tow package here in the US) but would not do a 7 wire with brake & power lines.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:34 PM   #7
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

You should have, at a minimum, a transmission cooler. The Highlander towing package, besides the transmission cooler, includes a heavy duty radiator with a engine cooler, higher fan capacity, higher output alternator and what Toyota calls "prewired harness."

The hitch, either Toyota OEM or an after market is very easy to install. Here's a link on an after market install,


The Toyota hitch is expensive but it is higher off the ground and has that "build-in" look.

I mentioned the "prewired harness" that is part of the towing package. I would think that all Highlanders would come with the prewired harness as it makes no sense to have tow different wire harnesses in a production environment. The prewired harness is simply a connection under the driver's dash for a converter (which you will also need to get) and wires/connection near the driver's side rear end. When you get a converter, the kit also comes with another short harness that plugs into the rear wires/connection and ends at the hitch with a 4 prong trailer plug. If, in fact, your Highlander is not prewired, then it comes a major task. Look at this link to see if you have the converter plug under the driver's dash,
http://sumbiz03.home.comcast.net/~su...tConnector.pdf

or look at posting #6 in the following link for a picture of the connection,
http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=286334

To plug into your Escape, you'll need to add two additional wires for the brake controller and for charging the trailer battery. Here's a link on how to wire a Highlander for these additional two wires and installing a Prodigy brake controller,
http://mojavetrail.webng.com/7wireTrailerPlug.pdf

It looks like an overwhelming task but is really very easy to do.

I pull a 19' Escape with a 2008 Highlander without any problems. If you have any questions, just drop me a PM.

Rick
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Old 10-17-2010, 09:38 PM   #8
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

I bought the Prodigy online (cheaper that way) and had a local hitch place install it. As to the hitch, I bought a Hidden Hitch for the Ranger and it was a piece of cake to install. Borrow a torque wrench for the bolts and use Loctite to hold 'em in place.

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Old 10-18-2010, 09:37 AM   #9
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

I have read several times at other forums (and a Scamp factory recommendation) that UHaul does good work on these installs. I cannot speak from experience though as I bought our Tacoma with the Toyota tow package.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:05 AM   #10
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Re: Setting up our Highlander for Towing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Garand
I bought the Prodigy online (cheaper that way) and had a local hitch place install it. As to the hitch, I bought a Hidden Hitch for the Ranger and it was a piece of cake to install. Borrow a troque wrench for the bolts and use Loctite to hold 'em in place.

Dave
For our truck (which replaced our Highlander as the Tow Vehicle) I just waited for Camping World to have one of their sales.. bought a prodigy controller and they installed it for free.. worked out great!!
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