Towing a 19 with a Highlander? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 09-05-2013, 01:19 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, BC, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
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Towing a 19 with a Highlander?

I am looking at a Toyota Highlander - V6 4WD Sport as a tow vehicle for my on order 19. I have no towing experience. I have already read some favorable posts regarding towing with the Highlander, but I am interested in hearing about performance on steep hills (like the Coquihalla in BC) and gas mileage while towing an Escape 19.

The 4Runner is another option, which might be more capable as a tow with larger engine and more torque, but I prefer the Highlander overall, if it can do the job for me.

Thanks in advance for your comments.
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Old 09-05-2013, 01:26 AM   #2
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Will be anxious to hear the responses. We have a 2004 Toyota Tundra now but are considering adding a Highlander to our "fleet" and would like to be able to use it with our 19'. My husband's research so far indicates that the new Highlander would certainly be up to the task (probably better than our Tundra which is woefully underpowered in the towing field).
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Old 09-05-2013, 02:03 AM   #3
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I have a 2008 Highlander Limited and towed the 19 Escape. No problem towing outside of lower fuel economy. I get 15 (US) mpg overall while towing.

At the first Escape Rally at Merritt, I drove to Merritt from Chilliwack without difficulty. Just slowed down as the steeper areas.

I plan to use the Highlander to pull our new 21 Escape.

Be aware that for US Highlanders, the towing package is not a complete package. You need to purchase a hitch and a wiring kit. And the wiring kit is only a 4 wire setup. You are on your own to add the needed additional wires. I have done this to 4 other Highlanders; it's not a hard task. Just too bad Toyota didn't do it for the Highlander as part of the towing package.

Kirk, I looked at the Toyota site and, for at least US vehicles, the 2013 4Runner is rated for 4,700 pounds towing while the Highlander is rated at 5,000 pounds. Weird
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Old 09-05-2013, 10:35 AM   #4
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Rick, thanks for the response. On the Canadian Highlander, the hitch and wiring (4 pin onl) are listed as accessories only, not as part of a tow package. The 4Runner comes with the hitch, 7 pin wiring with brake prewire as a standard feature. in Canada, both are rated for 5000 lbs.
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Old 09-05-2013, 03:43 PM   #5
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We have a 2011 4Runner SR5 and a 17C. This is our first travel trailer and our first year using this set up. So far, we have towed in Alberta and BC a total of 5000 km and it has been a great!! We drive the speed limit and slow down a bit for the steep uphill sections, and we are averaging 13.8 L/100km. (17 U.S. mpg). Without the trailer we are at 13 L/100 km city and 10.5 L/100km highway (18 mpg and 22.5 mpg US).

Travelling in the Okanagan this summer, we spent hours driving in 37C weather while pulling the loaded trailer and the temp gauge never moved!!

With kids, bikes, gear, food, drink, and dog, we probably carry between 700 and 1000 lbs on each trip. I really like the fact that it doesn't feel like the 4Runner is having to work very hard to maintain speed. There is a lot of reserve power and the vehicle does not sit much lower in the back when hooked up. I usually have 290 - 395 lbs on the hitch (including hitch and bars).

I really like the 4Runner besides the fact that it can tow well. We have the 7 seat package so there is lots of room for all the kids. It is quiet and there is good viability. The engine is a bit rough for a modern engine and it does drive like a truck. I like that, but some people don't. We looked at Highlanders as well and my wife preferred it to the Runner. I liked that the Runner is rear wheel drive, ladder frame (opposed to unibody) and more off road oriented. Not that I will ever do much off road driving with a $45000.00 vehicle!! The Highlander was nice and quiet and smooth, especially the hybrid. I really liked that vehicle...

I hope this helps a bit. I am really happy with my set up.
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:03 PM   #6
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Lost Croz, I also like the 4Runner for the truck chassis which, according to one expert, is supposed to be better for towing. In addition, I have seen some manufacturers say that a Unibody should not have a WDH used with it. We get the same MPG as you for our 19' so I am thrilled with that 17. The 4Runner is also very roomy.

KirkB, you can probably use a Highlander but you need to check all of the numbers: curb weight, GVWR, GCWR, towing capacity that I assume is with towing package added, and look at how loaded up your vehicle will be. If you get the GCWR straight and the other numbers that make it up, you will see exactly what your situation would be. Either vehicle would likely work but they are vehicles with different purposes.
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Old 09-05-2013, 05:10 PM   #7
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We recently sold our 2011 Highlander and own a 2012 4 runner. We just put a deposit down on a new 17B so I have not specifically pulled a escape trailer, but have towed other items and prefer the 4runner for towing. The biggest thing is you can add airbags to a 4runner, but can't to a highlander. Once you load down a highlander with gear and 4 people there is no easy way to level the highlander. Certainly a WDH will help a highlander, but you could never install airbags.

The highlander certainly has more comforts. I prefer the seats and steering wheel in the 4runner, but do miss the rear ac vents on the roof.
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Old 09-13-2013, 05:16 PM   #8
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We are on our way home after about 2 weeks on the road - our first trip with the 2012 Highlander and 19. We travelled from Vancouver Island, stopped in Kamloops a few days, then several campsites in Jasper, then Dawson Creek and now back in Kamloops. We have averaged 16.8 L/100 km on this trip and our average not towing is around 11 L/100 km. We are running 46 psi in the trailer tires and 36 in the Highlander. I try to travel with empty tanks except 1/3 for fresh water, the trailer is probably a bit overstocked with food, tools, and other stuff.

The Highlander had to work going over the summit of the Coq and the steep stretch before the Icefields Parkway - slowed to about 60 kms/hr over Coq summit. I wasn't pushing it too hard and the engine temp never moved above normal. More torque would be nice but not necessary. I found I was able to keep up to other RV's, perhaps maybe a bit faster. We plan to do this trip every year as well as Alaska and do not plan to replace the vehicle. I think proper maintenance of the tow vehicle for towing is key particularly if towing in the mountains.

I think a WDH/sway is a must to level the vehicle and tow out and reduce sway. You notice the 19 behind you but I found it was always under control. I have tightened the Anderson hitch to 8 threads showing and the tow vehicle is near level. I will post photos when I get home in about 4 days.
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:16 PM   #9
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I go up the Coq in 4, sometimes it drops down to 3, towing a 17B ( loaded ) with a RAV4 V6. I'm doing 80 kph at the steepest portion.
You must be babying that Highlander.
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Old 09-14-2013, 01:12 AM   #10
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I think any V6 SUV or small size pickup with a 5k towing capacity will pull the 19 fine with a WDH. The 4 Runner and Tacoma is a 4.0 L versus the 3.5 L in the Highlander. The 4.0 L gives you about 15% more torque so should tow better. We use the Highlander for towing about 25% of the time and do not need a bigger vehicle so it's a good balance for towing and everyday use for us.

Not having towed over the Coq before with this tow vehicle I did not want to overdo it over the last 2 kms before the top of the summit and no one was immediately behind me in the slow lane. Last time I pushed my SUV in the mountains the vehicle ended up in the garage for a week (Jeep CRD Grand Cherokee).
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