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Old 02-19-2020, 10:43 PM   #1
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2020 Highlander Platinum, no factory hitch receiver option - WWYD?

Gauging installing an aftermarket hitch vs waiting for a dealer installed option. For all things towing I would assume dealer installed options are preferable? Appreciate perspectives on what you would do in this scenario, will be towing a 19. The Platinum does include the towing package ironically without a receiver option available. The aftermarket 4->7 pin + brake controller and hitch receiver would be ~600 and would also like to get a transmission temperature monitor if recommended. Dealers claim a factory setup would be available in a few months? What would you do

Thanks!
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Old 02-19-2020, 11:21 PM   #2
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I would have to look at the specific models you reference, but typically Toyota tow packages include more than just hitch. Tranny oil cooler, larger alternator, bigger battery, etc. Because of this I would go with factory tow package.
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Old 02-19-2020, 11:22 PM   #3
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If I needed a hitch and needed it now, I’d find an aftermarket unit that had the most attachment points and the biggest bolts and best warranty and then I’d DEAL for a reduction in price on that part of the package. If I couldn’t get anywhere I’d walk away. And if they don’t have plug and play on the brake controller and 7 pin with heavy charging wire I’d tell them to get into the 21st century. The dealers hate wiring that stuff up for the flat rate. On my daughters 2016 Platinum Nissan Pathfinder, she bought a Teshonka controller and she and her husband installed it with no problem in about 45 minutes. The tow package is a weak point in theToyota SUV line. In my opinion. And I’ve had two Highlanders.
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Old 02-20-2020, 12:04 AM   #4
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I specified a class III hitch for weight distribution when I bought my RAV4 back in 2008. Toyota factory hitch was only class II. The dealer brought in an installer to do the work, including wiring the 7 pin and brake controller ( that I provided ). The RAV did have the tow prep package ( see post #2 ).
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:12 AM   #5
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The tow package is a weak point in theToyota SUV line. In my opinion.
How about the 4Runner? Full steel frame, 7 pin pre-wired, brake controller plug and play, and 5000# tow capacity out of the box with the 4th and 5th generation V6. Even higher tow capacity with the available V8 (7300# for 2wd, and 7000# for 4wd versions) in the fourth generation (2003-2009).
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Old 02-20-2020, 11:31 AM   #6
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The 4Runner is for sure prepped a lot more completely than the Highlander and RAV4’s. When I bought our 2012 Highlander I was a year and a half from buying a trailer, hadn’t even heard of an Escape. I got the tow package for the transmission oil cooler and heavier alternator. I used the coiled up 4flat wiring harness for my utility trailer. And I bought and installed a category three hitch that I liked. When we bought the Escape
I had the brake controller, and seven pin added. So it was kind of piecemeal. The 2018 had an available hitch and the dealer would wire up the rest the way I needed it so that’s the way I went. I did not look at the Pathfinder either time but it’s for sure a capable choice. I’d look at it or other alternatives now before I’d wait months to complete a rig if that’s the case. I’m not looking to buy any time soon so I guess I do not have to worry about it at this time. I’d simply like to see a tow package be a real out the door package. Since we need brakes on trailers over 3000 lbs in Iowa, tow ratings of 5,000 lbs would logically be set up
for that in my way of thinking.
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Old 02-20-2020, 01:32 PM   #7
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Appreciate all the feedback, keep it coming!

The tow height was something I hadn't considered on an aftermarket install, can you just change hitch ball height to compensate? It might be worth waiting to get something factory installed if it would be more solid, I just wish there was a timeline if it is clearly the better choice.

While I prefer the look of the 4runner and respect the truck vs car frame benefits and drivetrain superiority, this car will primarily be used as the wife's daily commuter and a family vehicle / occasional tow vehicle on the weekends. She loves the Highlander. The 2020 redesign includes all of the standard safety features, improved AWD and "birds eye" camera, and we really don't need the off road capability of the 4runner. The Highlander seems like an ideal compromise.
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Old 02-20-2020, 01:43 PM   #8
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I'd want to know, for sure, what class the factory hitch is and if it is rated for a weight distribution hitch. My understanding is that the aftermarket hitches hang down more than factory. The ball itself can be moved up and down with any hitch receiver.

I too am watching 2020 Highlander.
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Old 02-20-2020, 01:48 PM   #9
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Though we’ve done a lot of pulling with our 2018, over 35,000 miles , it’s our daily driver too. We have Nissan Rogue which gets better mileage than the Highlander but is not as comfortable to ride in, has terrible headlights, and side vision and doesn’t have the safety features of the Highlander. It doesn’t owe me anything so we will keep it for now. Best safety features on the Highlander for me are lane drift reminder and correction, adaptive cruise control, and back up obstacle warning.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:24 PM   #10
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The Highlander is, at its roots, a beefed up Camry FWD midsized car. (and the Rav4 is a Civic).

I would go aftermarket for the tow receiver and wiring harness, just find someone who knows what they are doing. I've seen some really horrible hack jobs done, and I've seen some very professional installs.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:39 PM   #11
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The Highlander is, at its roots, a beefed up Camry FWD midsized car. (and the Rav4 is a Civic).

You mean the CRV is a Civic?
At roots, cars have four wheels, although there are exceptions.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:43 PM   #12
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You mean the CRV is a Civic?
At roots, cars have four wheels, although there are exceptions.
errr, yeah, sorry, the Rav4 is a beefed up Corolla platform.

ps CRV AWD's have a notoriously weak rear differential and clutch. I wouldn't dream of towing anything bigger than a dinghy with one. I wouldn't be surprised if the RAV4 uses a similar arrangement.
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Old 02-20-2020, 04:49 PM   #13
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I've been towing my 17B for 12 years with my 2008 RAV4 Sport V6.
Of course, my Toyota Service manager says he wouldn't tow anything with a RAV4, but what does he know? For one, he doesn't know anything about the trailer.
Only out of the ordinary expense so far has been replacing the water pump, which requires taking the engine apart.
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Old 02-23-2020, 02:59 PM   #14
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Gauging installing an aftermarket hitch vs waiting for a dealer installed option.
I installed an OEM hitch on my 2019 Highlander. Not that difficult. Got it from BAM Wholesale Parts for $307. Link here. Comes with all the hardware and instructions to bolt directly to frame. My local stealer, er, I mean dealer, wanted over $700.

Don't know if changes were made for 2020 model.
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Old 02-23-2020, 06:39 PM   #15
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I installed an OEM hitch on my 2019 Highlander. Not that difficult. Got it from BAM Wholesale Parts for $307. Link here. Comes with all the hardware and instructions to bolt directly to frame. My local stealer, er, I mean dealer, wanted over $700.

Don't know if changes were made for 2020 model.

Curious Mike, Did you have to also replace the plastic bumper? We had a Toyota hitch put on our 2018 Highlander. It required a replacement bumper. I was disappointed with how sloppy the toyota receiver is and need to put on a hitch tightener. https://www.amazon.com/Dependable-Di...2504666&sr=8-1


I agree that the safety options on the new Highlander are excellent.
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Old 02-24-2020, 07:12 AM   #16
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Did you have to also replace the plastic bumper?
No. On the bottom of the Highlander's plastic bumper there is an insert that is held on by clips. It is easily removed before installation. A replacement insert that fits around the new hitch is included.
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Old 02-24-2020, 10:11 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the replies, here is the current plan through a reputable company I have used in the past that also includes the 4 -> 7 pin wiring modifications:

Receiver: Drawtite Hitch 75896

https://www.draw-tite.com/products/t...hHPRxd6OSqDYHl

Tekonsha Primus IQ

https://www.tekonsha.com/products/br...5wjPKPJz0br%7C

The brake controller seems a bit outdated, that said I don't think a brake controller is something I want to trust to a wireless connection anyway.

Regarding increasing the gauge of the power run from the battery, what measurable effects will this have? Does it actually charge your trailer batteries faster while driving? Is it more efficient in draining the tow vehicle battery? I would assume the spec cabling would be sufficient but this would certainly be worth the upgrade if not.

Thanks for all the feedback!

EDIT: Also planning on purchasing the E2 Fastway from Escape!!!
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:43 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the replies, here is the current plan.......
Just make sure before you make a final decision to look at pictures of final install of an OEM hitch and an after market hitch. All after market hitches ride low / below the bumper. The OEM hitch looks like an integrated part of the bumper. Just so you know.

Hitch.png
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Old 03-04-2020, 12:51 PM   #19
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We recently purchased a 2019 Highlander XLE and it will be used to tow our Escape 21. We opted for the factory installed hitch as the aftermarket hitches sit lower to the ground and we were concerned about clearance. We had the 4 pin connector switched out for a 7 pin and instead of removing our Prodigy P3 and wiring the Highlander, the hitch people recommended the Curt Echo Wireless brake controller which we went with. I prefer the P3, but the Echo is nice because it simply plugs into your 7 pin and you can move it from vehicle to vehicle and it retains its settings (and can have multiple setting for multiple trailers).
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Old 03-04-2020, 02:03 PM   #20
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the hitch people recommended the Curt Echo Wireless brake controller ....
so will you leave your phone running the Echo app at all times, with the phone screen unlocked just in case you need to manually deploy the brakes in an emergency ?

I'm just curious, because my phone is almost always running google maps and spotify when I'm traveling, and if when I had a serious emergency, such as when the trailer came unhitched on a rough 2-lane road in south Utah last spring, I needed to grab the manual trailer brakes to stop it from swaying so violently it almost threw my 8000 lb F250 off the roadway, I'd sure hate to have to be unlocking my phone screen and finding the Echo app while trying to steer the truck and modulate the truck brake.

with my old fashion brake controller, it took me about a second to realize I needed to use the trailer brake override, and about 1/2 second to find it by touch under the dash and apply the trailer brakes. under those panic conditions that 1.5 seconds seemed like an eternity.
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