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Old 10-22-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
TwinPower
 
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Towing with a 2012/2013 Toyota Highlander with Tow Package

My first post....of hopefully many....to the AS Forum! I have been all over this site reading about tow vehicles.....and I can already tell this can be a "hot button" topic, but hope to phrase my question in a way to get some help! Our family just recently purchased a 2007 Airstream Bambi International. We put the cart (or the AS) before the horse a bit as we do not have a vehicle capable of towing at this time. Borrowing a truck to go and get her next weekend from NC (we are in OH).

We have been scoping out tow vehicles, and have considered the Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Higlander and the Tahoe. We currently have a 2005 Highlander, that we love and has been great to us, reason we are seriously considering a new Highlander as the new models have a towing capacity of 5000#. We are a young family with twin girls that turn 5 soon, and they idea of riding any distance in a pickup (even crewcab) with them (and sometimes our dog) just doesn't sound appealing. I understand that the Tahoe is much beefier, and wouldn't be an issue with towing, but it is also much pricier, and I'm a little turned off that the 3rd row seats do not fold down like in my current Highlander and Honda Oddysey, instead they must be removed/stored if you are not using (which we wouldn't be much). We can have all the bells and whistles and comforts (entertainment system) with the new Highlander for a much cheaper pricetag. Not to mention, the value holds (IMO) better on the Toyota's than on the Tahoe. If money were no issue, I would love to own the Sequoia BTW Another thing I am considering during this selection process, is what we will be spending on gas when we are not using the vehicle to tow. Our goal is to get out several times a year, but that leaves a lot of time where we will not be gone in our AS, and I would love not to be paying through the teeth during our "off" times.

All of that said, I am looking for specific feedback on anyone currently towing a 19' AS with a new Toyota Highlander (towing capacity 5000#) with success or failure?

I really wish we could try before we buy. A vehicle is such a large investment, I hate the thought of buying something so major and being disappointed!
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:55 AM   #2
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Not a Highlander, but I do have a Toyota FJ Cruiser, which I think uses the same 4.0L V6 engine, and I tow a 17' Casita with it. The Casita is about 3500 pounds loaded, and the Cruiser does a good job with it. However, I know the 19' Bambi would be significantly more load than the Casita. You may do OK with the Highlander if you stay close to home and avoid the mountains in the West.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:05 AM   #3
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We don't have a bambi, but we do have a 20ft vintage trailer and an 2012 Highlander with tow package (limited). While I can't answer your questions directly I can tell you a few things. fully loaded our trailer weighs around 3300# (I would guess that is much much less than your bambi), however the highlander pulls this no problem. I would be leery of towing any trailer that is within about 5% of the tow vehicles weight or over. Se even though the Highlander is rated for 5000# I wouldn't go there for very long.
One thing to note. The tow package on the highlander as you may know includes many nifty features like larger alternators, fans, trans cooler, etc. What they don't really mention is that is doesn't include the receiver or 7-pin wiring. if you go OE on the receiver, that will be another $700+ if you install it your self. The wiring that plugs into the tow package is only for a flat 4 pin setup. You will also have to add extra wiring and a new plug to get a 7-pin connector. Your going to have to run wires anyway for a brake controller. You can save alot of money by getting an after market receiver, but they install below the bumper and are kind of ugly in my opinion. I installed the OE one myself.
We get about 18 city and 27 highway MPG on our highlander (not towing)

head over to toyotanation.com and check out the 2nd generation highlander forums. There has been long discussions on towing in there.

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Old 10-22-2012, 11:23 AM   #4
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Your 2005 Highlander will work fine. Why not use it for a bit so you get a feel for towing the new trailer. Then in a year or two consider a new TV.

The Toyota Sienna and Buick Enclave are both proven performers for towing Airstreams that would be suitable for a family like yours.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:47 AM   #5
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I don't have the numbers on an '07 19' Bambi, but an '02 one had a GWVR of 4,500 lbs. Some will recommend going 20% below the rating, but that seems to me to be "conventional [thus, unproven] wisdom".

I assume you are talking about the conventional, not the hybrid, Highlander. It is basically the station wagon version of the Camry. I prefer a truck like the 4Runner, but it is the same V6 engine. Toyota has made this engine for around 20 years and constantly refined it and increased hp and torque. It is a a very reliable and responsive engine. My guess is it will tow adequately, though pretty slowly on mountain grades. I'd compare brakes for the Highlander, 4Runner and Tundra—I am not sure the Highlander has big enough brakes for downgrades in the west.

Pickup trucks are not as uncomfortable as they once were. You can get leather and all that if you want, but the cloth seats in a Tundra are ok. We put sheepskins on them to make them better. Truck suspension is not as smooth as a car or station wagon, but we find our Toyota trucks to ride well. The double cab Tundra is pretty big in the back and the crew cab is really big. The Sequoia is a Tundra with a softer suspension and an SUV body.

Make sure you get OEM tow mirrors on whatever you buy. I have read some tow packages do not include them for reasons I can't understand.

If you are happy with your '05, maybe you should keep it for a daily driver, and find an older Tundra for a tow vehicle. It was '07 when they made them really bigger and put the giant V8 (5.7 L) in them. You could look at Tacomas—the newer ones are pretty much like the pre-'07 Tundras. I'm not sure the newer Tacomas offer the 4.6 L. V8, but that may work too.

Gene
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:05 PM   #6
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Thanks Crawford Gene. The 19' Bambi is 4500 GWVR. I am talking about the conventional, not the hybrid. It isn't so much the leather I am worried about, but no truck that I have looked at has the entertainment package (DVD/TV) and that comes in very handy for us. We only use it on long trips, but when we do, it is a lifesaver I know I could get handheld dvd players, or even use iPads, but there are inconviences that come with those. And the inside storage/room in a truck just isn't what you get in an SUV.
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:09 PM   #7
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Road Ruler, does the Sienna need modified to pull an Airstream Bambi??
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:10 PM   #8
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I thought I read somewhere the 2013 Tundra has a DVD package. Check the Toyota website.

We have a tonneau over the truck bed and a lot of dirty things get stored there—hitch head and bars when unhitched, gas can, generator, sewer stuff in a big plastic box, etc. While I know people take gasoline in the back of an SUV, it is not something I like doing.

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Old 10-22-2012, 07:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by leahrumbarge View Post
Road Ruler, does the Sienna need modified to pull an Airstream Bambi??
I suspect it may need the factory receiver to be beefed up.

For years we towed our 23' with a 93 Nissan van. Other than the usual, brake controller, tranny cooler, and WDH it needed the class III receiver to be strengthened.

You should send a note to forum member MrUKToad. He tows a 27' Classic with his Sienna and knows the fine details.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:44 PM   #10
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Is your Bambi 19 GVWR 4500 and have you taken it to a scale? Check the manual for your T-
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:03 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Road Ruler View Post
I suspect it may need the factory receiver to be beefed up.

For years we towed our 23' with a 93 Nissan van. Other than the usual, brake controller, tranny cooler, and WDH it needed the class III receiver to be strengthened.

You should send a note to forum member MrUKToad. He tows a 27' Classic with his Sienna and knows the fine details.
Keep up Mr Road Ruler, 'tis a 28' International!

Yes it's modified - Hidden Hitch receiver off the shelf but Can-Am added some steel L-section members that are welded on behind the receiver box and bolted to the car close to the rear axle. This adds rigidity to counter the torque from the weight distribution system but more importantly, helps transfer weight cleanly to the front axles. Can-Am also added a transmission oil cooler and a brake controller as well as the Eaz-Lift hitch, bars and friction sway control.

For us it's a very workable set up.
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:32 AM   #12
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So, the CanAm thing has come up. Leah', if you haven't noticed, a number of people tow with cars and minivans that have been adapted by CanAm in London, Ont. They all are pleased and there are no reports on the Forum of problems because of CanAm's work. Call them and talk to owner Andy posts here sometimes and writes articles for Airstream Life on towing. He appears to be generous with his time for people with questions about tow vehicles. And you don't live far from London.

I don't have an opinion about this approach. I don't have to because we use a pickup a lot for picking up things and a truck is easier for me to get in and out of because of back problems (maybe Andy could fix my back?). For towing up and down mountains here, a lot of torque and big brakes are also important.

If we wanted a lighter vehicle, I'd probably look into what CanAm does.

Gene
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:20 PM   #13
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So, the CanAm thing has come up. Leah', if you haven't noticed, a number of people tow with cars and minivans that have been adapted by CanAm in London, Ont. They all are pleased and there are no reports on the Forum of problems because of CanAm's work. Call them and talk to owner Andy posts here sometimes and writes articles for Airstream Life on towing. He appears to be generous with his time for people with questions about tow vehicles. And you don't live far from London.

Gene
Just flying the flag for "The Other Way", Gene

I'd never want to dissuade people from towing with their trucks if that's what suits them, I just like to remind people that properly set up, there are alternatives.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:46 PM   #14
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Leah, Road Ruler already mentioned the Buick Enclave, but since you indicated price is an issue you might also consider a Chevy Traverse (essentially the same model as the Enclave and GMC Acadia, but cheaper). Can-Am RV did an excellent job setting mine up. It tows my 25' Safari like the wind...has more power and handles much better than my old 2001 Yukon.

See my story here...
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...rse-91344.html

Whatever you choose, good luck and enjoy your new Bambi!
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