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Old 01-27-2020, 11:45 AM   #1
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Highlander owners: question

These questions are specifically for those who tow with a Highlander or who know Highlanders:

Do you have the factory installed hitch receiver or an aftermarket installed hitch receiver? Would you recommend your set up? (We have the EZ WDH.)

The main difference between the XLE and the SE trims is the suspension system — the XLE has a normal suspension system and the SE has a “sport tuned” suspension system. We were looking at XLEs, but a dealer has just offered us an SE for a bit less. Someone told me we might want to consider the SE as it will handle better. Can any knowledgeable person speak to this?

Advice welcome from Highlander folks!

(Not looking for advice or recommendations on other vehicles.).

Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2020, 12:16 PM   #2
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We own both a 2008 Highlander Sport Edition and a 2018 XLE. We've towed our 19 over 40K miles with the 2008 and last fall completed a trip from Ohio to Death Valley and back. The 2008 had a tow package but no hitch, so we had a Reese hitch installed, which worked fine. It does sit closer to the ground, which was okay, I guess. The 2018 has the factory installed hitch, which sits higher and looks much nicer. Really, I don't know that it matters in terms of performance. We eventually replaced the hitch on the 2008 because it got pretty rusty and funky looking. I suppose that could happen with the new one as well, but there is not that much exposed. I will say the Reese seems like a heavier hitch, but they're both rated adequately. We used an Andersen WDH, then an Equalizer on the 2008 and stuck with the Equalizer on the 2018. The Andersen didn't have enough lift to compensate for the softly sprung Highlander (compared to something like a 4Runner or truck). Both have proven to be great tow vehicles for us. Of course the 2018 is nicer, has an improved transmission, a little more horsepower. Both are easy to live with when not towing, which was one of our considerations. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:03 PM   #3
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We have the factory-installed hitch. When we were first looking at a new tow vehicle, I asked other Highlander owners, and they suggested the factory-installed hitch because it is a couple of inches higher than an aftermarket hitch.

One thing to be concerned about is the towing capacity of the model you are looking at. When we got our 2014 Highlander, the only models with a 5000 lb towing capacity were the XLE and the Limited. I believe that is still true, but I haven't checked it recently
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Old 01-27-2020, 05:18 PM   #4
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Thank you Parker and Leon.

Do you have the FWD or AWD and do you recommend one over the other?

Leon - yes the towing capacity on both the XLE and the SE is 5000lbs. Did we meet and chat with you at the rally about towing with a Highlander?
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Old 01-27-2020, 05:48 PM   #5
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We have AWD and don't even think about. It just works. I appreciate having it in muddy campgrounds, rainy weather, the occasional snow we can't avoid, and such.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:04 PM   #6
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We towed our 17B with a 2018 Highlander XLE, 5000#, AWD. We have the EZ with sway bars from Escape. The hitch was factory installed. It was a great tow vehicle and we averaged 16mpg, including in mountains. We’ll be using the same vehicle for our new Escape 19. We need the AWD in the mountains.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JaneM. View Post
Thank you Parker and Leon.

Do you have the FWD or AWD and do you recommend one over the other?

Leon - yes the towing capacity on both the XLE and the SE is 5000lbs. Did we meet and chat with you at the rally about towing with a Highlander?
Jane, we have FWD, but I would recommend AWD. We have had a couple of really steep hills with loose gravel when we would have preferred AWD -- but we made them up the hills.

Lindy and I have not been able to attend an Osoyoos rally since 2017. Just had other things that have kept us occupied. But sure would be happy to meet you and talk in person.
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Old 01-28-2020, 05:50 PM   #8
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I have an 18 highlander limited v6 with factory receiver and an e2 Fastway weight distribution hitch. I had the trailer hitched up today so I measured from the lowest bottom edge of the hefty hitch (which is lower than the receiver) to the pavement and it is 7.5 inches. With an aftermarket receiver, it would be at least two inches lower. FYI.
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Old 01-28-2020, 07:40 PM   #9
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We tow our 19 with a 2015 Highlander Limited Platinum with factory hitch and tow package. Works just fine, though towing mileage only about 14.5 mpg. Sometimes, especially towing into strong headwinds, gas stops needed are too frequent. Worst measured mpg was 10.6, but it was a ferocious headwind.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:31 AM   #10
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We tow our 19 with a 2015 Highlander Limited Platinum with factory hitch and tow package. Works just fine, though towing mileage only about 14.5 mpg. Sometimes, especially towing into strong headwinds, gas stops needed are too frequent. Worst measured mpg was 10.6, but it was a ferocious headwind.
That is about the same mileage as we get towing our 21. And you are right, a day pulling into a 50MPH headwind across eastern MT was pretty tough.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:53 AM   #11
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Pulling

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That is about the same mileage as we get towing our 21. And you are right, a day pulling into a 50MPH headwind across eastern MT was pretty tough.
Hi Leon
Yes, the wind in Montana can be significant, but it’s still Montana, I like the scenery and have for over 50 years. I can still see the sign in my mind when I stopped at a pass in Montana before Interstate 90 was built in 1969. “Sacajawea, the little Shoshone Indian led Lewis and Clark through this pass.......” And I was hooked. The 305 Honda Superhawk had its hands full, as I pushed towards the west, Idaho my goal. It cost about $.60 to fill the tank with real gasoline.
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Old 01-29-2020, 11:23 AM   #12
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my first "motorcycle" was a Honda 50 with sweet pea fenders. It cost $.25 to fill the tank. It rarely went outside the Minot city limits. But one time I had to take it to my Uncle Carl's farm to get the transmission rebuilt. Carl was an old-time farmer who could fix almost anything. My cousin, Gene, had a side business modifying Hondas. But it was 60 miles across the ND prairie into one of those big winds. 2 hours with the throttle wide open and me hunched down as far as possible to stay out of the wind.
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:16 PM   #13
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Hi Leon
There’s a parallel universe out there I’m sure of it. When I get talking to people I often find I’ve met a brother from another mother. Same experiences, same schemes, same punishments, and usually some common favorite dishes mom made, now lost to the ages.
Hope you’re having a good winter.
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Old 01-29-2020, 01:41 PM   #14
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:10 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by JaneM. View Post
Thank you Parker and Leon.

Do you have the FWD or AWD and do you recommend one over the other?

Leon - yes the towing capacity on both the XLE and the SE is 5000lbs. Did we meet and chat with you at the rally about towing with a Highlander?
One more thought about front wheel drive vs. all wheel drive. I never felt the need for all wheel drive, but when it came to selling, not having all wheel drive makes it hard to sell. I really would not have believed how important buyers of used placed on that.
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Old 01-29-2020, 07:36 PM   #16
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Hello all,
Thanks for your comments and advice! We purchased a Highlander XLE today with the factory hitch. Now to have the connector changed to a 7 pin, the brake controller installed, and the wdh adjusted.
Happy travels! Jane
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Old 01-29-2020, 08:02 PM   #17
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AWD

Good for you Jane. I used the All Wheel Drive to great advantage at the Ontario Bolerama last July. We backed across about 150 feet of supersaturated turf as we were leaving on Sunday morning. There were buried rigs adjacent to us but All Wheel Drive and my easy does it philosophy pushed the 4400 lb. 21 out of there without breaking traction. You never know when you might need it.
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Old 01-29-2020, 09:48 PM   #18
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Ours is FWD - hopefully we’ll never need the AWD.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:31 AM   #19
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I'm a bit late to the thread, but I went with the factory hitch for the same reason - it's a couple inches higher than the aftermarket ones. I'm glad I did, because clearance on the hitch was close enough as is.

I also got the AWD, but I'm not sure whether it was worth it. It's.. not a great AWD system. Slow to respond and a bit hard to predict. Towing up a rainy mountain road, I found myself fighting it as much as using it. Downshift, and right about the time I'm correcting the torque steer it suddenly goes away and I have to re-adjust. Might be useful at getting out of mud at low speed, though.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:56 AM   #20
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Surely you are not trying to outsmart the computer that controls AWD?
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