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Old 06-19-2009, 02:34 AM   #1
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toyota highlander

My wife and are thinking about purchasing a Airstream Sport 22', the GVWR is 4500, we have an 2008 highlander sport 4x4 V6 with tow capacity of 5000. The dealer says no problem, there is no need to buy a bigger suv. Does anyone out there have any suggestions.
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:03 AM   #2
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The wheelbase on a Highlander is a bit short, as it is with most smaller SUVs, however, with the following, you should be able to tow this trailer without drama:

- Weight distribution hitch
- anti-sway devices
- brake controller

None of these devices are radically new technology, and your dealer should be able to set them up for you so that the ball height is correct and the trailer level.

Enjoy!
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:21 AM   #3
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I think your Dealer is giving you the correct information but you need to get the connection and set up done optimally as Kevin has outlined in the post above.
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:51 AM   #4
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The rule-of-thumb is that you should not exceed 80% of your towing capacity but regardless how you cut it you are approaching the limits of your towing capacity.


We also tow a smaller trailer with a mid-sized SUV - a 19’ Bambi with an 03 Pathfinder. Much is about the same but there are at least a couple of key differences:
  • Trailer length is 3 feet longer.
  • Tongue weight is over 100 lbs lighter.
Both might be factors in how the trailer behaves behind the Highlander.

We did spend time and some experimenting to try to improve towing behaviour and comfort.


The things that worked and I would do again:
  • Switched out P series tire for LT tires.
  • Purchased a Hensley Arrow.
  • Purchased a Tekonsha P3 with boost braking feature.
Didn’t feel truly comfortable towing until we purchased a Hensley - then a remarkable difference in towing comfort.

We do work at keeping the weight down - our “stuff” is pretty much what we need and no more. Driving habits don’t break any speed limits (cruising speed doesn’t exceed 60 mph) and you will find that overdrive and towing are not compatible.

We’ve vacillated a fair bit around the need to purchase a larger vehicle (or not) when this one has seen the end of its reasonable life - but will likely stay with the economy of another mid-sized SUV as a tow vehicle. So far the Pathfinder has over 200,000 km on it with 50,000 of them towing this trailer and it is still going strong.

Good Luck,


Jay
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Old 06-19-2009, 07:19 AM   #5
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This is a great question, and I'm getting a ton of conflicting advice on it. My wife and i have a FJ Cruiser and are looking at the 19' Bambi with a GVWR of 4500 and our tow rating of 5000. There is a recent thread started by Andy R titled "towing myths" which you should search for and read.

While some AS'ers are towing with small vehicles, many have indicated the safety concerns in exceeding that 80% limit.

Personally, I'm still not certain if I need to trade the FJ for a Tundra in order to tow safely. I'm really hoping that more AS owners who have smaller TV's will chime in and convince me that it's safe. I sure don't trust what the dealer is saying. They are all dying to move product, and I think that is their only concern in this economy.
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Old 06-19-2009, 07:58 AM   #6
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I completely agree with the "no more than 80% of capacity" rule and add one caveat. If you are in really mountainous country the majority of the time you are better off with a heavier tow vehicle with a bit more power. Power for the long and frequent hill climbs, and vehicle weight so the trailer doesn't push you around on the downhills. A friend of mine had an electric brake failure on a downhill and was fortunate to have a heavy enough truck to handle the push effect without jack-knifing.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:28 AM   #7
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Other peoples opinions about how a particular combo will work have their place, but I would like to hear from someone who has been there and done that. Even so, people will have differing opinions. Would the AS dealer let you hitch up and see for yourself?
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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We are right at the 80% mark and feel very comfortable having towed our 22' SS for the past two years with the Ridgeline without any misgivings. We too usually travel as light as possible buying supplies at our destination and keeping the tanks empty if water will be available. I too believe as others here that you will need a WDH. I don't use one as Honda doesn't recommend it. Honda states the Ridge is 2.5X more rigid than a standard 1/2 ton PU, and has 20X the torsional resistance. This, with the longer wheelbase and even vehicle weight distribution to the wheels makes for a very stable towing platform. Your engine power should be adequate. We don't have any problems above 7000' and are usually in the passing lane on those 10-12° grades we have in Arizona.
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:00 PM   #9
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I can count at least 4 occasions where I've witnessed a short wheelbase SUV pass me hauling a big trailer up a big hill, only to find him in the ditch on the other side. Three of those were on I-40 headed west outside of Flagstaff.

You can do it safely, but you have to stay alert and realize that the trailer will be trying to push your truck out of the way as you try to go slower than it wants to, whether it be by gravity or just high speed. Short wheelbase will get pushed sideways much more easily, and crosswinds are more dangerous.

In short, it's more of a white knuckle towing experience. I've towed 16ft cargo trailers for considerable distance with my 4Runner, which is close to your Highlander, but there's no way I'd do it with something smaller like a FJ Cruiser or a Jeep.
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Old 06-19-2009, 02:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airbassador View Post
...short wheelbase SUV ... in the ditch... outside of Flagstaff.

You can do it safely, but you have to stay alert and realize that the trailer will be trying to push your truck out of the way as you try to go slower than it wants to, whether it be by gravity or just high speed. Short wheelbase will get pushed sideways much more easily, and crosswinds are more dangerous.
I thought that the proper way to set up a brake controller was to have the trailer brakes come on first, before the vehicle brakes. This way, the trailer brakes are tugging the TV-Trailer combo into a straight line, rather than the unbraked trailer pushing on the TV.

And every pre-departure checklist should include checking the trailer brakes at low speed, making sure they work.
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Old 06-19-2009, 04:17 PM   #11
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Hi, this is my first post. (Be gentle)
It's more of a ?, than anything else.
Why the "80% rule"? If the TV manufacturer, i.e. Toyota, Ford, GM or whomever says it's OK to tow 5000 lbs, do they really expect you to not to tow more than 4000 lbs?
I'm sure the manufacturer has designed and tested with their own safety factors added in. That will allow the TV to support the weight they have recommended.
I believe that while it maybe a little easier to tow an "80% rule" situation than a 100% (50% would be even easer). But does that mean that a 100% unsafe?
I don't think that any TV manufacturer is going to make a recommendation that would be knowingly unsafe.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:21 PM   #12
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This thread has raised a good question about towing capacities and the 80% rule.

Using a stop light analogy - the listed towing capacity is a red light - time to stop - don’t go through it.

What towing capacity does not do is tell you where the orange light starts - and most folks will agree that if you have exceeded 80% of the towing capacity you are into it. Seasoned travelers will tell you that you really don’t want to get into that orange zone - and - as you approach it - you need to start thinking about what you can do to manage the towing characteristics of your rig.

Bottom line is - the closer you get to the 80% rule the more attention you need to pay to the towing dynamics of your rig - it’s a sliding scale - know the limits of your towing capabilities - mitigate its weaknesses - and never exceed them.



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Old 06-19-2009, 06:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lylevg View Post
Hi, this is my first post. (Be gentle)
It's more of a ?, than anything else.
Why the "80% rule"? If the TV manufacturer, i.e. Toyota, Ford, GM or whomever says it's OK to tow 5000 lbs, do they really expect you to not to tow more than 4000 lbs?
I'm sure the manufacturer has designed and tested with their own safety factors added in. That will allow the TV to support the weight they have recommended.
I believe that while it maybe a little easier to tow an "80% rule" situation than a 100% (50% would be even easer). But does that mean that a 100% unsafe?
I don't think that any TV manufacturer is going to make a recommendation that would be knowingly unsafe.
For a 1st timer on this forum you have some wise words. Well done!
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerJay View Post

We also tow a smaller trailer with a mid-sized SUV - a 19’ Bambi with an 03 Pathfinder.

We did spend time and some experimenting to try to improve towing behaviour and comfort.

The things that worked and I would do again:
  • Switched out P series tire for LT tires.
  • Purchased a Hensley Arrow.
  • Purchased a Tekonsha P3 with boost braking feature.
Didn’t feel truly comfortable towing until we purchased a Hensley - then a remarkable difference in towing comfort.

So far the Pathfinder has over 200,000 km on it with 50,000 of them towing this trailer and it is still going strong.

Good Luck, Jay
The Pathfinder is a quality built vehicle that has a 5,000lb tow rating.

By comparison, for many years we towed our 23' Airstream with a Nissan Mini Van. With the exception of a custom receiver the van was stock.

The Michelin P rated tires worked great and the Reese dual cam hitch was wonderful. The combination was very stable and was a very relaxing drive with no drama. The Tow Rating on the van was 3,500lbs.

The point is that the Tow Rating number seems to have little to do with towing prowess and overall stability when connected optimally. The Pathy with the higher tow rating needs attention, (LT tires, Hensley) to tow safely a smaller trailer than ours.
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QUOTE: my 4Runner, which is close to your Highlander. QUOTE:

The 4 runner (actually truck based) is a well known, very sketchy (poor) TV and is nothing like the Highlander which is much better and car based (unibody).
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