Towing 19 - Highlander vs Tacoma - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 06-15-2020, 05:09 PM   #1
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Towing 19 - Highlander vs Tacoma

Thinking about an ~5K mile trip in our 2017 19. So far, we've been generally happy with our 2012 Highlander as the TV, but we've never traveled long distance. For this journey, my wife and I are considering using a 2019 Tacoma.

The Tacoma has a higher towing capacity than the Highlander: 6500 vs 5000. Both are V6's with ~270 HP. I'm assuming that the Highlander, even an older model, will trump the Tacoma as far as comfort on an extended trip like this one.

Does anyone on the forum have any thoughts or comments on whether to go with one over the other?

Thanks!
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:04 PM   #2
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Our TV is a 2012 Highlander pulling our 19. No regrets. We tow through the Colorado Rockies each winter. The climb up 70 through the Eisenhower Tunnel requires downshifting and and taking it slower with the truckers but the transmission temperature has never exceeded 230. Elsewhere we easily maintain 65 and the ride is comfortable. We do have a weight distribution hitch which levels out the soft suspension of the Highlander.
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Old 06-15-2020, 06:49 PM   #3
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Both are capable but an interesting thing about the Highlander, and many small 7 passenger SUVs is that they have more payload than a similar class truck. This is because 7 passengers weigh a lot. For example a 2020 highlander XLE, 3.5L, V6 with 8 speed tranny has a payload of 1,565lbs. Whereas a similar Tacoma SR5 with the 3.5L V6 and 6 speed tranny has a payload of 1,155lbs. So even though the Tacoma has a listed towing capacity of 6400 LBS compared to the Highlander 5,000 LBS, the Highlander can carry more cargo.

Towing capacity is a rating of how much weight a vehicle can safely pull, and more importantly how much it can stop. Payload is how much can be carried in the vehicle. So when you subtract the ~300 LBS of the 19' hitch weight and 2+ passengers, the Tacoma has very little margin to carry much else even though it has that nice bed in the back. So for a long trip where you are likely to want to bring more stuff with you, I would stick with the Highlander.

(Note: I pulled a 2013 19' with a 2016 Tacoma Sport before my current setup. So I have personal experience with the limits of the Tacoma. It was well matched for the 2013 Escape, but that vintage trailer was 500 LBS lighter than the 2017 version you own.)
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:01 PM   #4
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Be sure (as always) to compare TORQUE #'s as well ... not just HP.

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Old 07-02-2020, 10:51 AM   #5
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This thread caught my eye. We've bought a 2020 Highlander to tow our 17 Escape. It came with a 4 prong tow hitch. Mechanic just called and said they don't want to install a 7 prong tow hitch as it might void the warranty. The Toyota dealer said they do not have an adapter for this. Now what?! We live in the mountains so not a lot of flat land driving.
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Old 07-02-2020, 11:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LanaMarie View Post
This thread caught my eye. We've bought a 2020 Highlander to tow our 17 Escape. It came with a 4 prong tow hitch. Mechanic just called and said they don't want to install a 7 prong tow hitch as it might void the warranty. The Toyota dealer said they do not have an adapter for this. Now what?! We live in the mountains so not a lot of flat land driving.
Is this a Toyota dealership mechanic or an independent garage? I assume most likely the latter since he said it "might." My advice is, have the 7 prong installed anyway, and if that shop is reluctant, take it to a different one. It's your vehicle. Chances seem slim that a properly done installation could cause an electrical problem with the HL. And barring that circumstance, chances are good that the Toyota dealership will pay no attention to the 7 prong's existence when taking care of warranty work (which should neither be much nor for much longer anyway).
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:41 PM   #7
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Etrailer is a good source to get what you need. Then find a good hitch installation place (Not U-Haul IMO). Shouldn't cost more that 2 hours labor tops.

https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories...ler/ETBC7.html

https://www.etrailer.com/question-241060.html
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:30 PM   #8
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One plus for the Tacoma is the longer wheelbase, which is good for stable towing. And of course one can carry a generator and gas can without stinking up an interior. That said, I had a Highlander and wouldn't hesitate to own another one (my wife hated the seat so I sold it).
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mike G View Post
One plus for the Tacoma is the longer wheelbase, which is good for stable towing. And of course one can carry a generator and gas can without stinking up an interior. That said, I had a Highlander and wouldn't hesitate to own another one (my wife hated the seat so I sold it).
My Expedition seats are WAY more comfortable than DW's Lexus RX seats.
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