Tongue weight of 500 lbs OK for a Toyota Highlander with towing package?

R+K

Member
May 17, 2016
69
Iowa
Hi there,

We introduced ourselves a few weeks ago, and we are planning to look at a 2004 Fleetwood Redwood Highlander. I just noticed that the tongue weight rating on the camper is 500 lbs. We really don't know much about these ratings, but it is higher than some others I have seen. It is a 14' pop up without a slide, and the UVW is 2,685 lbs. GVWR is 3,770 lbs (gross axle weight rating 3,270).

Would this be safe to tow with a Toyota Highlander or a Chevy Traverse? We don't have our towing vehicle yet, but we are planning to get one next summer. We will for sure get a vehicle that has a towing package, so the towing capacity will be 5,000 lbs. Does anybody know how to find out this info?

I sure hope it would work. We really like the look of the camper.

Thanks!!

R + K
 

campfreak

Super Active Member
Jan 13, 2011
2,025
That's a pretty big popup. I think you would at least need airbags or a WDH. That's similar in weight to my E2. I tow with a sequoia and WDH, and it really needs it.
 

R+K

Member
May 17, 2016
69
Iowa
Follow up on our question above: there is a bike rack on the front of the camper for hauling 4 (adult) bikes. Would we be able to use that? We travel far, so it is not like we just camp in the vicinity. Besides, this is a high wall, and there is quite a bit of storage space in the front (the kitchen is located there), plust the cassette toilet is there. The back has the dinette and a bench. It seems like all the weight of this camper is in the front. Would this cause a problem?

Thanks again!

R + K
 

R+K

Member
May 17, 2016
69
Iowa
Campfreak, do you mean similar in tongue weight or unloaded vehicle weight? This worries me, a Sequoia is way more powerful!
 

Astro

Member
Oct 31, 2015
20
Well I can tell you this - we have a 2015 Highlander with AWD and it didn't come with the factory towing package. But I've put on trailer brake control and the hitch and 7-way, and have been assured by the service guys that I'm good. I've got a Rockwood HW276 and it's not as heavy on the tongue but can't be too far off. 14 foot box and heavy - 3100 dry which means probably more like 3600 or so loaded with propane tanks. Ours sagged a bit in the rear so we got our hitch ball raised upside down and it's also a 2 inch drop. That helped things considerably. We've never had an issue so far in two trips, one of which was across Texas. Good luck and the Highlander is a good vehicle for towing. But yes, if I could do it over, I'd probably go with a truck or 4-runner or something more like that just so I'm not that close to the limit. I didn't originally plan on getting a popup this big, but that's what we went with.
 

campfreak

Super Active Member
Jan 13, 2011
2,025
R+K said:
Campfreak, do you mean similar in tongue weight or unloaded vehicle weight?
Both. The UVW or dry weight of my popup is about 2600#. The tongue weight is about 400. The GVWR of the popup is 4400#
The main thing I was getting at was the tongue weight and WDH. My sequoia is an older one, not as powerful as the newer ones, but it has kinda soft suspension in the rear and needs a little help. The WDH works great. I could probably tow a considerably bigger trailer with it if I needed to.
Edit: Beware, not all popups or TVs are suitable for a WDH.
 

R+K

Member
May 17, 2016
69
Iowa
Thanks, Astro.

I just found out that the Unloaded Tongue Weight is 280 lbs., so that sounds better. I thought it had 500 lbs. to start with. So is that where we need to start?? Where in the camper will items start to have weight on the tongue? Trying to understand!

R + K
 

R+K

Member
May 17, 2016
69
Iowa
Thanks, Campfreak. Also for the warning about a WDH.

How do I know if this camper or a Highlander / Traverse will accept a WDH?
 

campfreak

Super Active Member
Jan 13, 2011
2,025
I think WDH 's are mostly intended for full frame, truck style TV's. If you are getting a unibody style TV, air bag helper springs might be a better option.
 
M

mhrir

Guest
R+K said:
Hi there,

We introduced ourselves a few weeks ago, and we are planning to look at a 2004 Fleetwood Redwood Highlander. I just noticed that the tongue weight rating on the camper is 500 lbs. We really don't know much about these ratings, but it is higher than some others I have seen. It is a 14' pop up without a slide, and the UVW is 2,685 lbs. GVWR is 3,770 lbs (gross axle weight rating 3,270).

Would this be safe to tow with a Toyota Highlander or a Chevy Traverse? We don't have our towing vehicle yet, but we are planning to get one next summer. We will for sure get a vehicle that has a towing package, so the towing capacity will be 5,000 lbs. Does anybody know how to find out this info?

I sure hope it would work. We really like the look of the camper.

Thanks!!

R + K

Instead of guessing let's do the math and see what the vehicle manufacturer says in the owner's manual. First off you don't mention what years of tow vehicles you are considering. Since another reply mentioned a 2015 Highlander AWD let's go with that.

Unfortunately for the other poster, Toyota limits the gross trailer weight to 2,000 lbs if the tow package is not equipped. So you definitely need to get one with the Tow Package to be rated to haul 5,000 lbs. That's not to say it physically can't do it but why risk your warranty, premature failure of the drive train, or injury/death? Don't trust what some Bozo at the dealer might say.

Next you will have to install a trailer brake controller or the max tow limit is only 1,000 lbs for an unbraked trailer.

In the Highlander owner's manual it specifically says:
- If the gross trailer weight is over 2000 lb. (907 kg), a sway control device with sufficient capacity is required.
- If the gross trailer weight is over 5000 lb. (2268 kg), a weight distributing hitch with sufficient capacity is required.

I find the second one curious since the gross trailer limit is 5,000 lbs but there you go.

If you've made it through that gauntlet then you have to consider the Gross Combined Vehicle Weight rating which is about 9,700 lbs (it varies slightly by trim level).

I will assume the Highlander we are looking at is the mid-range XLE AWD which has a curb weight of 4464 lbs (which I will assume means with all fluids and a full tank of fuel).

9,700 - 4,464 = 5,236 lbs available for trailer, cargo, and passengers.

Personally I always assume that my trailer when loaded will be at its Gross Weight Limit and unless you are prepared to go and weigh your loaded trailer I recommend you assume that too. Better to overestimate than under. Toyota lists the maximum vehicle capacity weight (occupants plus cargo) at 1,455 lbs.

5,236 - 3,770 gross weight of trailer = 1,466 lbs (limited to 1,455 lbs) of passenger and cargo weight in the tow vehicle. The average adult in the US weighs 180 lbs. For this exercise I will assume there are two passengers.

1,455 - 360 = 1,095 lbs. Plus you have to deduct the tongue weight on the tow vehicle. I will assume 10% of the trailer weight.

1,095 - 377 = 718 lbs for cargo in the tow vehicle.

Unfortunately Toyota does not specify the Gross Axle Weight limit even though it is brought up in the owner's manual. I would hazard a guess that if you put 718 lbs of cargo in the back along with two passengers, the tongue weight, and the curb weight of the vehicle all accounted for you could very likely exceed the rear axle weight limit. So always consider how the load is distributed in the tow vehicle and trailer.

Otherwise, based on the math and a properly equipped tow vehicle loaded in a safe manner you should be reasonably safe towing the trailer you are interested in.
 
M

mhrir

Guest
Also I will add that any vehicle designed for towing can use a weigh distributing hitch. They are part of the hitch receiver. How they attach to the trailer frame is an important consideration. If the trailer frame is not fully boxed then you will have to select something that will work for that.

Don't forget to add in the weight of the wdh to the total and remember it is essentially tongue weight.
 

romno

Member
Mar 22, 2015
25
R+K, regarding your question about how how camper weight affects tongue weight, here is my attempt at a simple explanation:

A popup has two weight-bearing points, the axle and the hitch. Any weight added to the trailer has to be supported by some combination of the two of them. Any weight added directly over the axle will be supported by the axle. Any weight added (theoretically) directly over the hitch would be supported solely by the hitch. Any weight added between the axle and the hitch is borne by both the axle and hitch, proportional to the positioning of the object. For example, let's suppose the distance from axle to hitch is 8 feet. An object placed at the 4-foot point (half-way between the axle and hitch) will split it's weight evenly between the two points. An object placed 2 feet from the axle and 6 feet from the hitch will be borne 75% by the axle and 25% by the hitch, etc.

Weight placed BEHIND the axle will be supported by the axle, but will look like NEGATIVE weight to the tongue (think of a teeter-totter with the axle as the pivot point, the hitch as one end, and the back of the trailer as the other). Be very careful adding weight behind the axle so that you don't lighten the tongue too much. The tongue should weigh 10 to 15% of the total trailer weight for safe towing.
 

Keith Hawkins

Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2015
1,336
2015 Toyota Highlander

Max towing capacity

The towing capacity of your Highlander depends on the trim level. At the lowest level (LE), the max towing capacity is listed as being 1,500 lbs. This is limited by the 2.7 liter 4-cylinder engine that comes standard at that level.

Note: The vehicle occupants, cargo, and any added equipment count against the max towing capacity, so be careful. And if you’re hauling a trailer full of stuff, don’t forget to account for the trailer itself.
Stepping up the the LE Plus, which has a 3.5 liter 6-cylinder engine, the max towing capacity is listed at 2,000 lbs. That’s a little better, but still pretty limited. Beyond that, however, things improve dramatically…

Note: As of model year 2016, all 6-cylinder Highlanders have the tow prep package and a 5,000 lb towing capacity. See below for details.
For the XLE and Limited/Platinum trim levels, the max towing capacity is listed as being 5,000 lbs. While these vehicles have the same basic engine as the LE Plus, they have a number of other enhancements.

Highlander tow prep package

According to Toyota, the XLE and above have a heavy-duty radiator and an engine oil cooler. They also have a 200W fan coupling (i.e., powerful cooling fans), a supplemental transmission cooler, and a 150A alternator.

In other words, the so-called “towing package” comes standard on the XLE and above, and is not available on lower trim levels, so… Be sure to factor this in when deciding which model to buy in the first place.

Of course, the lack of an official Toyota solution doesn’t stop you from making aftermarket modifications to increase your towing capacity, but there isn’t an OEM tow package at the lowest trim levels.

Max tongue weight rating

Another (somewhat minor) consideration is the max tongue weight rating. The LE has a max tongue weight of 150 lbs, the LE Plus has a max tongue weight of 200 lbs, and the XLE/Limited have a max rating of 500 lbs.

As for why these differ, I’m not sure. They’re exactly 10% of the max towing capacity at each level, so I would imagine that they’re based on a standard calculation that reflects safe loading practices. Said another way…

Even if the LE can handle 500 lbs (it’s the same hitch, after all), you’d have to seriously front-load your trailer to get that much weight on the tongue without exceeding the stated 1,500 lb max towing limit.
 

R+K

Member
May 17, 2016
69
Iowa
Thanks for all the info, so appreciated. We actually got the pop up yesterday. It is hard to believe after looking for so long that we found one! It was in perfect condition and has a lot of amenities, like a built in microwave and oven. We have three pick up trucks that friends have offered for us to use to haul the pop up this summer, but next summer we will buy our new (to us) vehicle. I will study all your input and it will be helpful to know what to buy.

I am not so much worried about the tongue weight anymore, but the pop up seems a lot larger than most, which worries me a bit, but I need to go with the numbers and it seems that if we have a Highlander with a factory installed towing package we should be able to haul up to 5,000 lbs. I am actually counting 4,000 lbs. in case we drive in the mountains. Our Fleetwood pop up is 2,800 including the airconditioner. Anyway, I will do some more figuring with the info you guys gave.

This is a great forum! And it is even nicer now we actually have a pop up. I will need to find out how to put the little icon on the bottom of our posts.

Have a good day,

R + K
 

falconflyr

Member
Feb 23, 2016
16
I am towing with a 2015 Highlander limited platinum / factory tow package. I tow a 12' Rockwood with a slide out. I'm at 300 lbs on the tongue with a battery and LP, about 100lbs in the trunk 2 kids/2 adults and I wouldn't want to tow anymore than that. My rear end sag is about 2.75" loaded.

You cannot put airbags on the Highlander because they are McPhearson struts, they won't fit. I will probably have more insight after our 6000 mile trip in a couple months, but so far we really like it. I would NEVER put a 500 lb. hitch on it though !!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

jmkay1

2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
7,382
Northern Virginia
Since you have the trailer. I suggest to fill it as if your going camping and go to the scales to get your true weights. That way you will be better prepared when looking for your new tow vehical. Particularly your tongue weight since you suggest you may have bikes.
 

tenttrailer

Art & Joyce - Columbus, O
Jul 18, 2013
3,758
Thornville, OH
Either can tow that weight depending on the year and if it has the tow prep package. No tow prep package they are only good for like 200lbs tongue weight.

But with 500 lbs tongue weight you will have some rear sag and I would go to a 600 or 650 WDH. We drop by about 3 inches with 450 lbs

PS if toyota highlander, I would buy the factory hitch. It has about 4" more ground clearance and about 14 bolts vs 6 of the after market hitches,
 

eprovenzano

Active Member
Oct 6, 2013
507
Very excited to hear you picked up the pup... I too have an 04 Fleetwood Redwood... I really haven't made many mods as they're pretty good right out of the box... Other than the normal maint, tires, bearing, lift system, etc,. there's really not a lot needed as it's been a great pup.

I've only made a few mods Some of the mods I've made...
1.) added a 2 inch memory foam under the mattress (made a good mattress even better)
2.) added led backup lights (we arrive at the campgrounds late, so backup lights do come in handy.
3.) added a heat pump / AC unit (which required cutting the 14 x 14 hole in the roof)
4.) cut insulation inserts for the bunk windows to help keep the heat out and cold in, and the opposite during cold weather camping.
5.) extended the drain of the water tank to the outside of the pup. When leaving a campground, I just open the drain as we hit the open road and water the pavement...
6.) I installed a 6" PVC pipe on the rear to hold the awning poles.

When we got ours, the PO rarely used the water system. I pulled the anode out f the H/W tank, and flushed the tank... it was full of hard water deposits. The hot water was disconnected to out outdoor shower. There must have been a water line issue somewhere in its past. I replaced a few fittings, and was able to re-plumb the outdoor shower. (It's very convenient when your really need it)

The pup has quite a bit of storage.. It took us a few tries as stowing our stuff before we worked out the best places... Now everything as a place, and we still have some open storage bins

If you have any questions that I can help you with please let me know.

 




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