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etrailer Class III Trailer Hitch Installation - 2023 Toyota Highlander

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How to Install the etrailer Class III Trailer Hitch on a 2023 Toyota Highlander

Hey everybody, Ryan here at etrailer. Today on our 2023 Toyota Highlander we're gonna be showing you how to install the trailer hitch receiver. Before we get into that though why don't we just take a minute, check this out and make sure it's gonna be the right hitch for you. Putting a trailer hitch on a Highlander just makes sense. You know, people use these SUVs to do a ton of different things, you know, pulling trailers around, using accessories like bike racks and cargo carriers just about everything in between. So having this back here looks right at home and it's gonna open up our opportunities on what we're gonna be able to do with our Highlander.

Something I do want to address right off the bat is we get a lot of questions about is your hands-free lift gate assist features still gonna work if your vehicle is equipped with it after you put the trailer hitch on and the answer is yes. Our model here today doesn't come equipped with that feature, but I've done a lot of these in the past and they work, you know. All you're really gonna have to do is kick your foot to either side of the receiver tube opening and everything will open up like it should. This hitch is going to work with all the different types of submodels of the Highlander and it'll also work with hybrid models like we have here today. So regardless of what you got you should be in pretty good shape there.

Compared to some of the other hitches available this one's probably my favorite and really I say that because of the way it's gonna look. Almost completely hidden. You're just gonna be able to see this middle portion. It has a matte black finish and it almost matches the plastic on our bumper perfectly and so to me it almost looks like a factory option. There are some other hitches available, one of 'em is gonna be visible and so it's gonna hang down.

Definitely more noticeable and not as easy on the eyes as this one, but that one has really high weight capacities and you can use a weight distribution system with it as well. So if you're someone that is planning on doing a lot of towing, primarily especially heavier trailers or if you got a camper and wanna use that weight distribution, that hitch may interest you a little bit more. With this being a class three hitch, it's gonna have a two inch by two inch opening, super common size, a lot of different types of accessories will work with it. It is going to use that standard five eights pin and clip. One doesn't come included with the hitch.

If you need one, you can always grab it here at etrailer and a lot of times too if you end up buying a new accessory they'll come with a pin and clip, so just something to think about. The safety chain openings are gonna be a plate-style and although they're not huge they will give us enough space to use just about any size hook that our trailer might have on it. As far as the weight capacities go, this is gonna have a 500 pound maximum gross tongue weight rating. That's gonna be the amount of weight pushing down on the hitch. So pretty high number. You'll be able to use pretty much any size bike rack or cargo carrier that you'd like to for example. As far as the maximum gross trailer weight rating goes that's gonna be 5,000 pounds or the amount of weight pulling on the hitch, so the weight of your trailer plus anything you might have in or on it. With that said though, I do always like to recommend it's never a bad idea just to grab your Toyota's owner's manual. That way you can check in there and make sure that your Highlander can handle that much weight safely. I'm gonna give you a couple of measurements and you can use these to help figure out what type of hitch-mounted accessories will work best. From the ground to the top inside edge of the receiver tube opening, that's gonna be about 16 inches. And if you plan on towing a trailer chances are pretty good you can use a ball mount that has a straight shank. From the center of the hitch pin hole to the edge of the rear bumper, that's going to be about two inches which is really good clearance, so you shouldn't run into any any issues but if need be you can use that to help figure out that if any folding type accessories you might have can be stored in that upright position without hitting the back of your Highlander. When it comes down to it, if I had a Highlander and I was looking for a hitch, this would be the one I'd go with. You know, I just really like the way it looks. It's capable and easy to use and get to, so really can't go wrong. As far as the installation is concerned really not too bad. You pop a small panel down on your driver's side and essentially the hitch kind of just bolts up. So it really shouldn't run into too many issues or take you a bunch of time, but why don't we go ahead and get started on that now. So to begin our installation, we're gonna be underneath the back of her Highlander and first thing we need to do is remove this underbody panel here on the driver's side. To get this off, there's gonna be a few different types of fasteners we need to remove. I believe a couple of them will be this push pin type. So you take a flat head screwdriver and kinda pry underneath the head, then you can pull that out. Just kinda work our way around and see what ones we need to get off. Looks like this one and I think that's it for the push pins. Now we can change out to a 10 millimeter socket but it looks like even a Phillips head screwdriver might work. Pull that one out, (ratchet running) this one removed and then this one. There should be a couple more fasteners located on this inside edge here up top. And these are just plastic nuts that'll stay connected to the panel. And with these you can take an extension and a 12 millimeter socket, usually just turn 'em by hand. Sometimes you know you might have to kind of apply some downward pressure while you're unscrewing 'em to get 'em to kind of pop free if you will. But once it is released we can grab our panel and drop it down, set it to the side for now. We're gonna have several plugs in the bottom of our frame rail and we need to remove those. So you can just take a trim tool or a screwdriver and work those out. Wanna mention too, anything we do to one side of the vehicle, we'll do it to the other side so it'll be same way but that's gonna expose our attachment points for our hitch. All right, so we're gonna have three. These are threaded well nuts and even though they're covered, not a bad idea to clean 'em out. Ours are brand new so we're in good shape but you can spray penetrating oil in there if you want to and then take a toothbrush or something like that, kinda work it back and forth to clean out any debris that may be inside. Over here, just on the passenger side of the vehicle we're gonna have this little bracket that runs across and we need to remove it cuz it'll be in the way of our hitch. So there's a 10 millimeter screw, pull that out and then change over to a 17 millimeter. We'll get that out of the way and removed as well. On each side of our vehicle we're gonna have this support tab connecting to our lower fascia there. What you're gonna do is pop out that plastic fastener and just kind of bend that down a little bit. That way we'll have some extra space to get our hitch up into position. Just wanna touch base on the hardware that we're gonna use to secure the hitch and it'll be the same for all the attachment points. So you're just kind of have a bolt and a conical tooth washer. Make sure the teeth on the washer are gonna face up towards the hitch. And so when we're holding that in a position we'll run the bolt through the hitch and it'll thread directly into the bottom of our frame. Now with an extra set of hands we can get our hitch into position. So you're gonna have to kind of go up and over the exhaust a little bit and then kinda work it up into place there. Once we have it lined up and in position, we're able to take a bolt and we want to get at least one started on each side hand tight. That way the hit will support itself while we work on the rest of the hardware. Go ahead and get all of our hardware started and hand tight and once that is done we can come back with a three quarter inch socket and snug everything down. (ratchet running) Then you wanna come back with a torque wrench and make sure all of the hardware is torqued down to the amount specified in the instructions. We can trim out our panel now, that way we can get it back into position and not interfere with the hitch. So there's a diagram and instructions and you can also just kind of roughly put this up in place and get a good idea on where to cut. So I just use both to figure out those spots and being somewhat thick plastic I'm gonna use a multi-tool, you can use a Dremel tool or pair of snips, kinda whatever you got. I'm go ahead and get this cut out. (multi-tool running) I went ahead and took our bumper support tabs, just pushed 'em back into position and ran our push pin fastener back through there to get them reattached. And now we can take our trimmed out panel and get this reinstalled the opposite way that we removed it. (panel clicking) With the panel back up, everything fits nice, looks good. And that's pretty much it. So that will finish up our look at and our installation of the trailer hitch receiver on our 2023 Toyota Highlander.

Kitty H.


Very informative. Thank you.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@KittyH You're very welcome, we're glad we could help!

Info for this part was:

Employee Joshua S
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Test Fit:
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Test Fit:
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Test Fit:
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