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Old 03-01-2015, 02:41 PM   #1
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What to get to tow with a Highlander

Hi everyone! We are looking to buy our first hybrid and we are fell in love with the Jayco X20E. However, we are thinking that maybe this is really beyond the capacity of our Highlander. What is the general opinion on this? We have thought about the 19xud, but we like some of the features that the Ultra gives over the SLX, mostly the tank capacities. We are also considering the X17Z but are not sure if there will be enough room to not feel claustrophobic. We are a family of four. Any help or advice would be great.

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Old 03-01-2015, 04:29 PM   #2
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A visit to the local CAT Scale will give you the rear axle weight. Compare that to the Rear GAWR. The difference is how much more weight you can add. A hitch weighs maybe 60-80#. Divide whatever remains by 0.15. That will give you an estimate of the heaviest TT you can pull. Keep in mind that the published TT weight is an empty TT. Our X23B got about 800# heavier after I loaded our "stuff".
The CAT Scale is your friend.


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Old 03-01-2015, 04:51 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.... whatever unit you choose.
Sherm & Terry w/rescues Steve (std Poodle) & Eydie (min Schnauzer)
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Old 03-01-2015, 05:41 PM   #4
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Old 03-01-2015, 06:59 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum
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Old 03-02-2015, 05:49 AM   #6
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The easiest way to figure all this out is to either drive over to your local dealership, and talk with a sales or service manager to get the towing capacities for your vehicle.

Another way is to google it. I owned a Ford Ranger 4x4, and found the Ford pdf files on their site that listed the GVWR (Gross vehicle Weight Rating), the tongue weight, and vehicle weight. The pdf files also had a simple worksheet, asking what options were equipped on the vehicle, as certain options add additional weight to the vehicle doing the towing, so that adds to the total weight the vehicle can haul; itself and any cargo/trailer.

Don't forget a few other things: with a family of 4, the people, clothes, toys, bikes, and food will add up in weight. This all gets added into the maximum towing capacity equasion. So, you add this weight into the trailer weight, plus the vehicle weight, and that needs to be at or under the GVWR.

Also don't go over the tongue weight. You won't be using the bumper ball for this! Make sure you have a good frame hitch, and know what it's rating is.

One last thing; with everyone and everything hitched up and packed, will you be driving on flat roads, or combined flat and hilly roads? Do you have an automatic transmission? With a transmission cooler installed?
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:27 AM   #7
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Welcome! You have a lot to think about here.

First thing first is your available payload. You can find your payload rating on a sticker in the driver side door jamb. With 4 people in the vehicle that's going to limit what you can tow. Sure, you may have a 5k# towing capacity, but if your payload is 900#, and your trailer weighs 4200#, then your tongue weight could be an average of 550#. Subtract that from 900#, and you have 350# left for your family and anything you carry in the vehicle. Not much room left, and at best, you'll be right at the edge of the overall capacity for that vehicle. I believe the Highlander actually has a pretty decent payload for a small SUV, but the door sticker will give you correct number.

Yes, people will tell you that you can tow the 19xud, or even the X20E, but it will not be a pleasant experience. You will most certainly be buying a new tow vehicle within 12-18 months. I am speaking from experience. I have twice made conscious decisions to tow very close to the rated capacities of my tow vehicles. Yes, it's doable. Yes, it can be done safely. Yes, there were "no problems". However, I have also towed the same trailers with vehicles that were better equipped to tow the trailers in question. I can tell you that there is a world of difference, that is it's far more pleasurable, towing a trailer with a vehicle that has plenty of reserve capacity.

The X17Z is probably more inline with what you can realistically, and comfortably tow. But as you said, you have concerns about the possible claustrophobic feel. That said, we camped for many years with 3 adults in a Kiwi 17A, the slightly smaller (7 ft wide) ancestor of the X17Z. Being that we spend most of our time outside it was fine, however, yes, there were times when it was tight. I could see 4 being a bit of a problem on rainy days, especially as the kids grow into their teens, if they aren't already. On the flip side, no matter what you do it's all about the memories.

Tough call, settle for a little less than you really want, or buy what you want knowing you'll end up replacing your Highlander in a relatively short period of time. Towing a trailer isn't cheap is it! But it's a lot of fun.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:18 PM   #8
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Good answer from DocBrown.

Short answer, No. I wouldn't pull it with a Highlander.

We have a 19H that I was pulling with my Mercedes ML320 diesel. The diesel had plenty of power/torque to pull the camper (which a 6 cyl highlander wouldn't match), but the suspension and transmission aren't really built for that. We took that combination on about 5 trips, but after pulling the camper up a mountain and smelling something burning I decided to trade the SUV before I burnt up a $7000 transmission. I got a f-250 super duty diesel and the difference is night and day. Now that I have a huge truck we keep thinking of upgrading the camper size!

If you are like me, you will probably ignore others advice and do it anyway which is cool. Life's an adventure! You will have an awesome time and it will work ok, although probably be a little white knuckle ride each time. Take it slow and easy and you'll survive.

DEFINITELY purchase a good load leveling hitch with sway control and have a professional set it up for you the first time. I didn't know what those were when I bought our camper but you need to learn. They are very important and can make the difference between a safe pleasant trip and a massive stressfest.

We'd like a bigger camper, but we keep telling ourselves that the point of camping (for us) is to get OUTSIDE, not sit in the camper.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:56 PM   #9
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Thank you everyone! We decided to go with the X17Z. After weighing all the information we had been given (pun intended), we decided that it was the best fit for our family at this time. We feel it would just be more relaxing not to stress about it all of the time.

With that being said, does anyone have any experience with the Prodigy RF brake control?
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Old 03-03-2015, 08:42 AM   #10
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The Prodigy P2 and P3 are extremely popular. I have the P2 and it works great with the 17Z. The RF model is over $300 and the only real benefit is that the controller is mounted on the RV so you could use multiple tow vehicles to pull the RV.

I'd recommend a WDH with sway control like the 600/6000 Equalizer, it's works great for me.

What the tow specs don't tell you is the stress that you will be putting on the vehicle in real-life conditions when it's 90 degree F and you are towing on the interstate at 60 mph up a gradual incline with the air conditioner on and a 30mph cross wind with a fully loaded camper. A good brake controller, good WDH, heavy duty radiator, and tow package all help to make a more enjoyable towing experience.

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