Can You Guess What a Highlander XLE Can Tow?

When towing comes to mind, many people conjure up an image of a mighty pickup truck cruising on the highway with a huge trailer in tow. The truth is, you don’t need a pickup truck to haul heavy things. Your SUV, crossover, or even sedan (like the Camry) can safely and easily pull cargo around town as long as you're armed with the proper knowledge:

If you’re looking for a serious towing vehicle but aren’t into owning a pickup truck, you can’t go wrong with a Toyota Highlander XLE. The towing capacity of the 2014-2019 models even exceed that of the Tacoma (which tops off at 3,500 pounds). XLE is the Highlander’s highest trim level. Its V6 engine, along with the optional towing package, allows it to haul up to 5,000 pounds*. For comparison, the lowest trim level, LE, runs on a four-cylinder engine and has enough power to tow up to 1,500 pounds.

To give you an idea of what the Highlander's highest trim level can pull, here are three of the most common things people tow that weigh up to 5,000 pounds:

1. A Speedboat

A 4WD Highlander launching a 4,000-pound speedboat into the water:

Live near a body of water and want to take your speedboat out for a spin? No problem. As long as it weighs under 5,000 pounds (like most speedboats), your Highlander XLE has got you covered.

2. Horses

Horse trailer

Photo credit: Boeckmann_horseexperts

The Highlander XLE has enough muscle to haul a two-horse trailer with a couple of horses inside, along with a bale of hay and horseback riding accessories. The average horse weighs 1,000 pounds and a two-horse trailer weighs just over a ton, so you shouldn’t have a problem taking your beloved horses out with an XLE.

3. A 25’ RV


Photo credit: Larry Krainson

Some 25-foot RVs weigh just shy of 5,000 pounds without any water or supplies inside. For example, a 2017 Rockwood Mini-Light 2504S (pictured above) has a dry weight of 4,800 pounds. Not all 25’ RVs weigh the same, though, so it’s wise to check your RV’s weight before hitching it up to your Highlander XLE.

What a Highlander LE Can Tow

The most basic Highlander trim level, the LE, can still haul some things with a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds. You can opt for an LE with a V6 engine if you want to pull a little more weight. Here are some things you can pull with the four cylinder LE engine:

  • A teardrop trailer
  • A small utility trailer
  • A jet ski
  • An ATV

Safety Tips for Towing With Your Highlander XLE

  • Drive at a speed below 55 mph at all times.
  • Stay at least four seconds behind the car in front of you.
  • Avoid fast acceleration.
  • When going downhill, tap your brakes instead of slamming on them to avoid overheating.
  • Inspect everything – especially your brakes and all the fluids – before embarking on your trip.
  • If on a long trip, check the tire pressure every time you pull over.
  • Run the tires at their maximum recommended pressure.
  • To keep the trailer as stable as possible, set your tongue weight to 10%-15% of your trailer’s total weight.

The Right Towing Parts for Your Highlander XLE

The first part you should get is the hitch (Part No. PT228-48172). Its job is to attach the trailer to your Highlander’s frame, as you should never, ever tow from your bumper.

Another must-have part is the wiring harness (Part No. PT725-48140). Without it, you’ll get pulled over for not having any functional lights on your trailer. You should also consider investing in a ball mount and safety chains.

We’re always amazed by the towing power a Highlander XLE offers, and we would never pass up the opportunity to see a video of one in action. If you have one, please share it with us on Facebook!

* Always consult your owners manual for exact specifications before towing.