31 October 2017

Toyota Highlander 2017 Towing Review

A choice of tow assist features and an impressive braked towing capacity, but how does the Highlander stack up on the road?

Highlander 1
Toyota Highlander
Highlander 2
Toyota Highlander
Highlander 3
Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is a practical seven-seater model that gives a comfortable saloon like ride, providing comfort for you and your families along with added features like rear window shades and a roof-mounted, 9-inch screen media player for the kids with two wireless headphone sets. 

At a glance
Model Toyota Highlander 2017 LTD
Engine 3.5 Petrol Engine
ANCAP Safety Rating 5 Star
Power 135kW at 3500rpm
Transmission 5-Speed Automatic
Fuel Economy 9.5L/100km
Body Style Large SUV
Towing Capacity Braked 2000kg
Towing Capacity Unbraked 750kg
Gross mass 2760kg

A dominant trapezoidal grill adorns the front of the large SUV giving the Highlander striking curb appeal and an electric tailgate with glass that opens independently makes access to the luggage compartment rear easy.  One word of caution relating to the tailgate – be mindful that it could strike the protruding bow of a boat you’re towing or other loads that are protruding.

Visibility was fine and a secondary mirror cleverly installed in the sunglasses holder provides a wider vantage point of the trailer surrounds, while suspension in the vehicle remained composed when both loaded and unloaded.

On the hill section of our route, the RPM soared up to 4900rpm when accelerating to 80km/h from 50km/h, while the gearbox dropped the gears down satisfactorily. When we reached our desired cruising speed, the rpm dropped town to 3400 rpm which is still fairly high so towing on a regular basis may mean your fuel economy takes a hit.

Taking to the motorway, the vehicle drove smoothly but, despite offering an 8-speed transmission option, the manual mode didn’t respond positively to all of our requests, so we found it preferable to simply leave it in automatic mode.

However, the Highlander is equipped with many assistive features specifically designed to improve your towing experience such as Trailer Sway Control, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control. With an impressive 2000kg braked towing capacity too, the Toyota Highlander is an SUV that feels like it has been designed with towing as a primary consideration. 

Thanks to SeaCraft Miller Moyes for the test boat & trailer.

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Rating and scoring

Item towed
Haines Hunter SF600LE 1500kg STD
Hard braking control
Acceleration control
General comfort
Smoothness of ride
Stability on uneven surfaces
Stability when cornering
Gearbox performance
Overall result
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