What Is the Toyota Highlander’s Towing Capacity?
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Not all SUVs are created equal when it comes to towing, and each model has a different towing capacity that it can handle. Even within a certain model, the towing capacity can vary based on facts such as the trim package the owner chooses.
Here’s a look at the Toyota Highlander’s towing capacity across its three available trims.
The 2021 Toyota Highlander has a respectable towing capacity for its class.
The 2021 Toyota Highlander towing capacity
Toyota lists the specs for its 2021 Highlander line, which comes in three packages—the base Hybrid LE, the XLE, and the Hybrid XLE with MSRPs that are all north of $40,000.
Whichever package you go for, you get a spacious seating capacity of seven or eight, and if you go with one of the hybrid options you’ll get around 35mpg on your fuel efficiency.
Towing capacity is a number that many Highlander buyers are interested in, and it depends on the trim that you go for. If you want to maximize your Toyota Highlander towing capacity, then you’ll want to go with the XLE trim, which gives you a capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. If you choose the Hybrid LE or Hybrid XLE, your towing capacity will be limited to 3,500 pounds.
The Toyota Highlander towing capacity is good for most people
While those towing capacities aren’t the highest numbers you’ll find, as larger SUVs like the Ford Expedition can pull more than 9,000 pounds, the 3,500-5,000 pounds you can pull with a Highlander should be good for most people.
For most SUV owners, the loads that they’re most likely to be towing are things like canoes/kayaks, pop-up campers, and motorcycle trailers.
As the Kelley Blue Book points out, many of those loads come in below the rated Toyota Highlander towing capacity. If you’re pulling a loaded canoe or kayak trailer, the top weight of that usually doesn’t exceed 800 pounds.
For example, a typical motorcycle trailer typically maxes out at about 3,000 pounds. The XLE should provide more than enough capacity for a pop-up camper with a weight of up to 4,200 pounds, but the hybrid packages may not have enough power for that.
Why it’s important to stay within the towing capacity guidelines
As the KBB notes, you shouldn’t exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) because even if you are able to get your vehicle moving with a load heavier than the guideline, you won’t be able to safely control your vehicle or stop at a safe distance. Pulling too much weight can also damage vehicle components.
One issue to consider if you decide to pull more than the listed towing capacity is the potential for legal issues in states where this is illegal. It can also lead you to problems with your car insurance provider, as exceeding the GVWR violates most insurance contracts, meaning you won’t be protected if you cause an accident.