The Toyota Highlander offers everything you expect from an SUV while holding up Toyota's reputation for quality and reliability. But is the Highlander approved for flat towing? We've done the research, and here's the scoop:
Toyota has not approved the Highlander for flat towing in any model year. If you flat tow your Highlander, you are likely to damage the transmission. You may also damage other components. To tow your Highlander behind an RV, Toyota recommends towing it on a flatbed trailer.
In this article, we'll cover towing your Highlander with a flatbed, a dolly, and an RV. We'll also take a look at flat-towing compatibility in other Toyota vehicles and the Highlander's own towing power. Read on to learn more!
How to Tow a Toyota Highlander
Unfortunately for RV enthusiasts, flat-towing isn't an option for the Highlander. Doing so is bad for the transmission and can also damage the torque control and vectoring systems in AWD models.
Instead, Toyota recommends using a flatbed truck or a flatbed trailer to tow the Highlander.
This keeps the wheels out of contact with the road, so no damage will come to the transmission or AWD systems.
How to tie down a vehicle in a flatbed
It is essential that you securely tie down your Highlander, or any other vehicle, when using a flatbed trailer.
Before getting started, inspect all of your equipment to make sure it is in top condition. Check that your straps aren't showing any fraying or damage. If they are, you should replace them.
At this time you should also verify that your trailer is rated for the full weight of your vehicle. Use the actual weight of your vehicle or, if you are unsure, use the GVWR as an estimate instead of the curb weight.
Once you have your vehicle on the flatbed, you'll want to first secure the vehicle by the wheels. Do this with a combination of over-the-wheel straps and lasso straps on all wheels.
The over-the-wheel straps will put downward pressure on the tires to prevent the vehicle from bouncing. The lasso straps put pressure forward and backward to prevent the vehicle from lurching in either direction.
You can learn how to use both kinds of straps in the vehicle below:
Can you tow a Highlander on a tow dolly?
If a flatbed trailer isn't an option, you may want to use a tow dolly to tow your Highlander. It is safe to tow a Highlander with a tow dolly, as long as you follow the correct precautions.
First, you'll need to know which drivetrain your Highlander uses. The Highlander is available as either front- or all-wheel-drive.
For all-wheel-drive Highlanders, you will need all four wheels out of contact with the road, even when using a tow dolly. This means you will need a supplemental dolly that goes under the rear wheels.
If your Highlander uses the front-wheel-drive drivetrain, you can leave the rear wheels in contact with the road with the front wheels loaded in the tow dolly.
See how to load and secure a front-wheel-drive Highlander in a tow dolly in the video below:
Can You Tow a Toyota Highlander behind an RV?
You can tow a Highlander behind an RV, so long as you use a flatbed trailer or tow dolly in the method described above.
However, you will need a powerful RV to do so. The 2022 Highlander's GVWR ranges between 5,935 and 6,000 pounds. Add to that the weight of your car trailer or tow dolly, and you'll see that you need plenty of towing power.
What car trailer fits the Highlander?
To find a flatbed trailer for your Highlander, you'll need to make sure it is large enough and has a high enough payload capacity.
Many car trailers are designed for, well, cars. These are often only rated for payload up to 4,000 or 5,000 pounds.
There are stronger trailers fit for the job, though. The 10CH Car Hauler by Big Tex comes in 18 or 20-foot options with payload capacities of 7,865 and 7,710 pounds, respectively. Either can handle a Highlander.
The B5 Buggy Hauler from PJ Trailers also has what it takes to haul a Highlander. It's available in lengths from 16 to 22 feet with payload capacities between 7,350 and 7,729 pounds.
What RVs can tow the Toyota Highlander?
Now that we've seen some car trailers that are Highlander ready, let's look at some RVs that can handle them.
First, we'll need to add the weight of the trailer to the Highlander.
We've seen that the Highlander's highest GVWR is 6,000 pounds. Of the trailers mentioned above, the 22-foot B5 Buggy Hauler is the heaviest, at 2,650 pounds.
This puts us at 8,650 pounds. We'll want an RV that can tow above that weight comfortably.
The Berkshire XLT and the Tuscany 45MX or 45BX all have 15,000 pounds of towing power, meaning you'll be able to tow your Highlander comfortably. Both are Class A motorhomes that bring a lot of luxury with that power.
The Magnitude Super C offers 20,500 or 21,000 pounds of towing power depending on the chassis you choose.
What Toyota vehicles can be flat-towed?
Toyota hasn't approved any of the vehicles in its current lineup for flat towing. This is true of several of the past model years as well.
However, there are a number of Toyota models from previous years that you can flat tow. These include select models of the Camry, Corolla, and Yaris.
You can find a comprehensive list of all the models, model years, and configurations that Toyota has produced and approved for flat towing in our article:
How much can a Toyota Highlander tow?
When you're not towing your Highlander, why not use your Highlander to tow?
Hybrid models of the 2022 Highlander have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. If your Highlander is equipped with the standard V6 gas engine, it has a 5,000-pound towing capacity.
In either case, there's a lot you can tow with your Highlander. Let's look at some examples.
What can you tow with a hybrid Highlander?
Toyota's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine is available with either a front-wheel or all-wheel drivetrain. Both have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
While this is lower than the power of the V6 gas engine, you can still haul plenty with it. Here are just a few examples:
- Teardrop Campers
- Jet Skis
If you're looking to tow an RV with your hybrid Highlander, teardrop campers are your best bet. These tend to be the lightest campers, and these days many have great design features.
If you prefer a more conventional camper, there are some great models that use smart, lightweight designs.
Scamp is just one example. Their 13 and 16-foot trailers come in at dry weights of just 1,500 and 1,900 pounds respectively. Just be sure to factor in the weight of your cargo.
What can you tow with a V6 Highlander?
With its 5,000-pound towing capacity, a Highlander outfitted with the V6 engine can tow everything the hybrid Highlander can tow and then some.
The extra 1,500 pounds of towing power will open up more possibilities for campers, including several from the most iconic camper manufacturers.
Take the Airstream Bambi 16RB. It has the classic look of an Airstream trailer in a smaller, lighter package suitable for a properly equipped Highlander.
The Winnebago Micro Minnie 1700BH is another great option for a Highlander with the V6 engine. This awesome camper offers everything you expect from a Winnebago RV in a lightweight package.
You can see the Micro Minnie for yourself in the video below, straight from Winnebago RVs:
While you can't flat-tow a Highlander, now you know how to you can tow it and even which RVs are up to the job.
We've also learned more about other Toyota vehicles and the Highlander's own towing ability.
Whether towing or towing with your Highlander, you'll now be ready for your next Highlander hauling adventure. Safe driving and happy hauling!
To learn more about your towing options for different Toyota models, check out these great articles: