Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity: Your Complete Guide

Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity

Factors Affecting Towing Capacity

Gas-powered Highlanders with the V6 engine offer the highest tow ratings. Hybrid models offer less towing capacity.


Front-wheel drive (FWD) Highlanders may have slightly lower tow ratings compared to all-wheel drive (AWD) versions.

Towing Package

For maximum capacity, ensure your Highlander has the optional towing package.

Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity by Model Year

Recent Model Years (2024-present): For Highlanders manufactured in the last few years, the typical towing capacity with the gas-powered V6 engine and towing package is 5,000 pounds. The hybrid version usually manages around 3,500 pounds.

Older Models: While the overall capability remains similar, there might be slight variations in towing capacity for Highlanders produced before 2020. It’s always best to double-check your owner’s manual or consult reliable online resources for your specific model’s towing figures.

What Can a Toyota Highlander Tow?

Small to Medium Boats:

A Highlander can comfortably pull many aluminum fishing boats, bass boats, pontoon boats, and smaller cabin cruisers. Remember, always check the boat and trailer’s combined weight against your Highlander’s capacity.

Lightweight Campers:

Several pop-up campers, teardrop trailers, and compact travel trailers fall within the safe weight limits for a Highlander.  Pay close attention to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of any camper you’re considering.

Utility Trailers:  

A Highlander is ideal for towing utility trailers loaded with landscaping tools, recreational vehicles like ATVs or motorcycles, furniture, or moving supplies. Enclosed utility trailers offer more flexibility in what you can transport.

Tips for Safe Towing

Know Your Total Weight

Don’t just consider the empty trailer’s weight. Factor in the weight of all gear, supplies, or passengers you’ll have in it. Your total towed weight must remain safely below your Highlander’s capacity.


Towing a trailer changes your vehicle’s handling. Take time to practice braking, turning, and reversing in a safe, open space before heading out on busy roads.

Towing Mirrors

If you’re towing a wider trailer, consider investing in towing mirrors. These offer extended rear views, helping you maneuver more confidently.

How to Tow Safely & Responsibly

1  Weight is King

Overloading Dangers

Exceeding your Toyota Highlander’s towing capacity puts extreme stress on your vehicle. It can lead to overheating, damage to the transmission or brakes, and dangerous handling instability.

Altered Handling:

 Towing a trailer significantly changes how your Highlander accelerates, brakes, turns, and reverses.

Safe Learning Space: 

Before venturing onto busy roads, find an empty parking lot or open area to practice slow maneuvers, stopping, turning, and backing up with the trailer attached.

Gain Confidence:

 Spending time practicing helps you become more familiar with how your vehicle responds and builds your confidence for towing in traffic.

See More with Towing Mirrors

Enhanced Visibility:

 Standard rearview mirrors provide limited visibility when towing, especially with wider trailers.

Towing Mirrors Extend Your View:

 These special mirrors attach to your Highlander’s existing mirrors, extending your rearward vision along the sides of the trailer.

Safer Maneuvers

Being able to clearly see the area around your trailer makes lane changes, backing up, and parking much safer and less stressful.

Understanding the Highlander Features That Maximize Towing


Power is Key:

 Towing requires significant power from your vehicle’s engine for moving and controlling the additional weight of the trailer.

V6 Strength:

 Toyota’s 3.5L V6 engine offers substantial horsepower and torque. Torque is particularly important as it is the twisting force that helps you get moving from a standstill and accelerate, especially uphill.

Hybrid Trade-off:

Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity

While excellent for fuel economy, the smaller engine and electric motor combination in Highlander Hybrid models provide less overall power, resulting in lower towing capacity.


Traction Matters:

Traction is fundamental to safe driving, but it becomes even more crucial when towing heavy loads. When a vehicle is towing, the weight distribution shifts, often causing the rear wheels to lose traction more easily, particularly on slippery surfaces like wet roads or snow-covered terrain.

AWD Advantage:

All-wheel drive (AWD) systems are designed to distribute power to all four wheels of the vehicle, providing improved traction and stability compared to front-wheel drive (FWD) systems. In towing scenarios, this means that each wheel can contribute to propelling the vehicle forward, enhancing grip and control.

Slight Differences:

While AWD typically offers superior traction and stability for towing compared to FWD vehicles, the actual towing capacity differences between AWD and FWD Highlanders may not be significant under normal towing conditions.

Towing Package:

The towing package represents a comprehensive set of upgrades and enhancements specifically tailored to optimize a vehicle’s towing capabilities and ensure safe and reliable towing experiences.

Cooling is Crucial:

Towing places additional strain on the vehicle’s engine and cooling system, increasing the risk of overheating. To mitigate this risk, towing packages often include heavy-duty radiators and engine oil coolers. These components enhance the vehicle’s cooling capacity.

Trailer Wiring:

Proper lighting and brake operation are essential for safe towing. The towing package addresses this by including a dedicated wiring harness designed to seamlessly connect the vehicle to the trailer’s electrical system. This ensures that the trailer’s lights and brakes function correctly, enhancing visibility and signaling to other motorists, and facilitating safe stopping distances while towing.

Maximizing Potential:

Investing in a towing package is particularly advisable for drivers who anticipate regular towing or frequently operate near the vehicle’s towing capacity limits. By equipping the vehicle with the necessary upgrades and features, such as enhanced cooling systems and comprehensive wiring harnesses.

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