Toyota Highlander TV - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-10-2016, 05:45 PM   #1
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Name: Michael
Trailer: In the market
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Toyota Highlander TV

I've reviewed Mike Magee's spreadsheet of TV/trailer combos and cpaharley's definitions of trailer ratings. The website, landerfan.com was helpful, too. However, I still have some concerns about TV/trailer compatibility. I've put a 17' Casita Freedom Deluxe near the top of my possible FGRV purchase list. Although my Highlander's tow/hitch weight ratings (5000#/500#) are well within Casita's weight specifications, am I asking too much of it? We're two people who travel without a lot of cargo, and expect to spend 95% of our travel on paved, moderate grade roads. I'm thinking about a higher tow capacity TV in the next year or two but I'd really like to start out with that Casita and my Highlander. Any experience with that combo or other well considered comments?
Mike & Mary
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Old 09-11-2016, 08:36 AM   #2
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I spent 140,000 of my '08 HL's 185,000 miles with a trailer attached to it. I always towed with overdrive (5th) locked out. The HL did very well towing a Burro, a 6x12 cargo trailer @ 3500 lbs, a Lil Hauley, and a 2700 lb, 7' x 16' KZ Escape E14RB travel trailer. The latter was a conventional, boxy trailer and had the greatest wind resistance, thus it was the toughest tow. Even so the Highlander did ok, although climbing the San Rafael Swell (UT) in a strong headwind had me running about 38-40 mph... I could have gone faster but didn't want to floor it. Eventually the transmission may have been getting weaker from all the towing, though, and the tranny temp light would come on for a bit while climbing those long grades in the Rockies. So I switched 1 year ago to a V8 Lexus.

I must say that I enjoy the air suspension on my Lexus GX, because it stiffens the rear to compensate for the hitch weight and keeps the vehicle level. No rear end sag.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:20 AM   #3
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Name: Doug
Trailer: 2013 Casita Spirit Delux 17
Arizona
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TV/Highlander

We just purchased both a 2013 Casita and 2016 Highlander XLE for our upcoming adventures in FGRV'ing. We've never camped or hauled anything, so we're a bit nervous about taking this on, but the idea of being outdoors and enjoying various places we plan to visit, keeps us excited. We did have a bump in getting our HL equipped to haul the Casita, even after we told the dealership what we needed. They claimed that the new 2016 did not have the option for the 7way plug, so we had to have it done at an aftermarket hitch installer. Who knew? I was extremely happy to read Mike's reply, but I also chuckled as I had to get rid of my Lexus RX 450h, in order to match the tow of the Casita. Good luck! I think you're on the right path!
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:43 AM   #4
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I like the looks of the Highlander but don't really want a seven passenger vehicle- are the back seats removable?
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:47 AM   #5
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Name: Emily
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We tow a smaller trailer, a Scamp 13, with our 2011 Highlander and it legitimately tows like it isn't there. It drops our gas mileage very, very little. We do tow in overdrive (like Mike mentioned), without the cruise on. Much of our time is spent towing over the Rockies, into Wyoming and Utah and back, and we've just not had any issues. We've got 147,000 miles on it, so far no issues with the transmission, although we've heard at higher mileages it might become an issue but we'll cross that bridge if we need to.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
I like the looks of the Highlander but don't really want a seven passenger vehicle- are the back seats removable?
The back seats lay down completely flat, so it gives you a very large cargo area. We drive ours almost exclusively with the rear seats down(unless my parents are visiting or I'm on kid carpool) and haul tons of things in the back. It's a great cargo space.
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Old 09-11-2016, 12:06 PM   #7
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What engines do all these Highlanders have in them? I've got the 3.4l in my Tacoma. Great engine - kind of slow going up long hills with the camper.
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Old 09-11-2016, 12:35 PM   #8
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Name: Michael
Trailer: In the market
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Highlander TV

Nice to hear the positive replies about the HL. I've looked at the 17' models that Casita and Escape offer. The Escape (B plan) specs 250# hitch weight, 2170# dry weight. The Casita (Spirit Deluxe) specs 365# hitch weight, 2480# dry weight. I'm wondering how much those weights would reduce the ground-to-hitch clearance. After all, the hitch rating is 500#.

Mike
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Old 09-11-2016, 01:45 PM   #9
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Puget Sound, WA
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Mike,

More about the Casita, and less about the Highlander...

We tow a Casita FD with an Audi Q5 rated at 4,400/440. The hitch drop is about 3/4" with a tongue weight up to 410 lbs. You could stand on your drawbar and add a few bags of fertilizer or such to get an idea of how much the Highlander drops.

We bought our Casita sight-unseen and further having never actually seen one at all, moving up from a 5x10 teardrop trailer. When it was delivered, my wife was shocked at how small it was inside. I was much less concerned about the living space as my background was from ultralight backpacking.

I was however concerned to some extent about the storage space as the cabinets are actually much smaller than the teardrop's, but I basically took heart from the fact that so many people travel in this and even much smaller trailers for months at a time. Bottom line, we both have subsequently found that we are enjoying it immensely.

We do carry some equipment for enjoying the outdoors; propane camp stove, a 4' long 36" high folding table, GCI rocker chairs, and even some snorkeling gear seasonally. However, we don't carry much else outside of basic clothes and necessities as our activities tend towards reading, walking, swimming, museums and such.

We feel that the captain's chairs are not too bad, but are really not as comfortable as we would like them to be. I anticipate taking them to an upholsterer for a complete rebuild to include adjusting the angle, extending the front about 2 inches and adding some side-bolster padding in a semi-bucket configuration. I'm about 175# and just under 5'10". The Mrs. is 5'6" and I know better than to post any more information than that.

People say you "lose" the storage space under the seats in the FD as compared to the Spirit Deluxe. However, the space is still there, it’s just not confined by a cabinet. We find it's useful for keeping reading materials, daypacks, shoes and electronics handy. I also pack gear there when in transit.

So, maybe going to a rally will be a good thing so you can see what you are potentially getting into. For our part, it was perhaps more of a case of where there's a will there is a way. With no regrets.

Regarding “well considered” forum posts, I don’t think the Internet has a filter for that. With a nod to the Stones, I just put that under the “can’t always get what you want” heading.

Good luck,
Mike


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Old 09-11-2016, 02:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomandCallie View Post
What engines do all these Highlanders have in them? I've got the 3.4l in my Tacoma. Great engine - kind of slow going up long hills with the camper.
Ours is a V6, 3.5liter. Interesting to note about the Tacoma...we are looking at one to buy potentially next year, just because it's time to pass my 2005 Subaru Outback to a kiddo
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:17 PM   #11
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Name: Wayne & Barbara
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The Highlander/Casita combo should be just fine. We are on our 2nd Highlander, first a '07 hybrid, now a '13 automatic, both with V6 engines.
If possible, don't let Casita sell you a weight distributing hitch. It just adds dead weight which you don't need.
Get the hitch ball in the reciever as close to the rear bumper as possible.
That may mean drilling another hole in the ball mount. And do what you can to eliminate any looseness between ball mount and receiver.
Judcious placement of cargo, to keep the hitch and total weight and low; such as no water in the tanks, and no heave cargo in the rear of the TV
Happy Camping!
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Old 09-11-2016, 05:55 PM   #12
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3.5L V6 with 270 HP was in my HL. They used to make a hybrid model with 3.3L, but now it looks like they only have the 3.5L and a 2.7L 4-cyl.
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Old 09-11-2016, 09:33 PM   #13
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My Escape 17B tongue weight is 320 - 340 # depending on how the trailer is loaded for travel. A 250 # tongue weight would be with no fluids and nothing in the trailer.
You need to make sure you are comparing apples and apples.
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Old 09-12-2016, 07:09 AM   #14
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Name: Michael
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The Highlander Saga

Wow! Thanks for all the info and encouragement...and for indulging my "newbee-ness". As I navigated the forum's features I noticed that the "similar threads" column has even more HL/towing discussion going back a couple of years.
Mike
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