Chrometec Wheels on the New Toyota Highlander

I’ve had a couple of questions recently about the wheels on the Highlander Limited/Platinum. For example, a reader named Michael asked:

“We’ve ordered a Highlander Limited. Can you tell us if the 19″ wheels have hubcaps or are they solid rims?”

The short answer is neither, or both, depending on how you look at it.

Recall that the LE, LE Plus, and XLE all have 18-inch wheels, whereas the Limited and Limited Platinum have 19-inch wheels. The lower trim levels have alloy wheels, with the LE having “5-spoke alloy wheels” and the LE Plus and XLE having “5-spoke machined-face alloy wheels.”

What about the 19-inch wheels at the higher trim levels? Well, they have “5-spoke Chrometec alloy wheels.” Wow, Chrometec, that sounds pretty darn fancy! But what does that really mean?

Well, the Chrometec wheels are essentially alloy wheels with permanently affixed plastic wheel covers that have a chrome finish. The use of Chrometec wheels covers has been a somewhat contentious issue.

Some Highlander owners love the look, while others hate it. I personally prefer the machined-face alloy wheels that come standard on the XLE, but to each their own. From a practical standpoint…

The Chrometec wheels are (perhaps) more likely to be resist damage from the elements (salt, etc.) as compared to alloy wheels or an actual chrome-plated wheel. At the same time, that chrome finish makes them more susceptible to curb damage and harder to repair than alloy wheels.

As I said above, to each their own…

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13 comments… add one
  • Vinny Nov 7, 2016

    The problem I am having is after less than a year one of my Highlander Chromtec rims began to discolor in one location. It’s 2 years old now and it has gotten really noticeable. A real eye sore. Clearly its a factory defect cause only 1 rim did this but it’s not covered by any warrantly. Toyota wants $750 for the rim which is nuts. I will probably have to buy a whole new set off non OEM rims for my truck since it is killing it’s appearance.

  • Gary Youre Jul 1, 2017

    I have contacted Toyota corporate to ask what other wheels are available to replace the 19″ plastic wheels. These are truly an embarrassment considering my vehicle is the Platinum edition with Pearl White Paint. The existing plastic wheels are so cheesy and tacky looking.
    The only other option is a 10 spoke wheel costing $2000.00, a set, out the door! To get a wheel that actually looks good requires changing the width and the offset.
    It’s hard to believe that Toyota would strap their customers with no other options when thousands of other wheels are available.
    I’ll update when I hear back from the factory.

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  • love spells Oct 17, 2017

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  • fateh Oct 26, 2017

    Admin, thank you for this post. I can see many in this group have a similar feeling like mine… I cant believe that the top of the line has plastic caps over, can i just go about removing those caps? what do the actual wheels look like. Can someone share the pictures if you have one.

  • Carl Jan 21, 2018

    Have 2017 Highlander damaged chrometec wheel cover, replacements $368-$600 this is crazy found one at OE Wheels for $185 free shipping, only probably it shiny chrome the ones I have are a brush looking chrome. Any suggestions?

  • Maureen Apr 19, 2018

    After 2000 miles my Chrometech wheels looked all pitted. Car wash would have to detail to clean because they look the same after going through the car wash. The delearship and regional manager will do nothing for me. They say it is where I live in Vero Beach. Purchased from local dealer. I am 80 years old and do not live near the ocean or construction. I have 7,000 miles now, not three years old with an extended warranty on my Toyota White Pearl Platinum Highlander and no options. What ever happened to customer service? I thought Toyota was a first class company. Hate the car because of no support from the dealership and they are still putting these crummy covers on premium cars and I paid $43,000 for this problem. Thanks for letting me vent. Maureen

  • David Aug 12, 2018

    I just took delivery on my 2018 Highlander Hybrid Limited yesterday and was surprised to find this top of the line Highlander is equipped with what amounts to plastic wheel covers. At first I thought gee, these covers must be temporary protection covers for the rims, but I see now that is not the case. Had I known, I would have paid extra for real wheels, but apparently that option is not available for 19″ wheels from Toyota. In my thinking, instead of gluing these plastic covers to the wheels, it would have been better to make them removable to allow for a more economical future damage replacement.
    Apart from this issue, I love the car, which has great reliability and performance reviews, and would not have chosen any other vehicle.

  • Jamie Aug 27, 2018

    I JUST ordered an LTD Highlander Hybrid, and if any of you think I’m rolling off the lot with those tacky pieces of plastic hub cap shite, you are all dreaming. Whichever product manager or design team thought to burden Toyota owners with what’s otherwise a beautiful and well built car, better be working at Hyundai right now!

  • Guy Gutzmer Sep 17, 2018

    Took delivery this past Saturday, have like 65 miles on it and looked better at than @ the dealership to find these rims! I thought I was being sold alluminum rims, I mean Limited series & 19″.. I feel cheated miss lead & after reading this post will be talking to my dealership tomorrow! Didn’t pay 46k for plastic hub caps! That’s why I bought a Toyota over a GM product!

  • Asia Love Sep 25, 2018

    Calming to know I’m not the only person totally disgusted with the glorified hubcaps. I took possession of my new platinum edition thinking there should not be any issues. It was near closing time when I picked up my vehicle and I went straight home. The next morning I pull the car out of the garage. I look at the wheels that were obviously not preped because the tape is still on all the “Chrometec” wheels. I noticed some ripping of one of the tape pieces. Yes, it was damage on one of the crappy Chrometec wheels. Called, then drove the 54 miles back to dealer just to be told “it could have been fine anywhere. Besides, it will cost us about $400 to replace.” The closer I investigate the darn damaged cover, the more I realize Chrometec is nothing more than a layer of aluminum foil.

  • Linda Nov 3, 2018

    I am in the process of getting a 2019 Highlander Limited Plt and don’t want the Dark Chrometec alloy wheels. Do they look black or like chrome?

  • Pissed Pete Dec 18, 2018

    JUST PICKED UP MY 2018 “LIMITED” HIGHLANDER (LEFTOVER)…
    CANT BELIEVE THESE CHEAP WHEEL COVERS….I THOUGHT THE DEALER HAD SWAPPED THE ONES THAT BELONG ON THE UPGRADED MODEL
    FOR THE CHEAPER MODEL……THANKX TO YOU GUYS, I NOW KNOW THAT TOYOTA HAS LOST THEIR MIND……THE MORE YOU SPEND…THE LESS YOU GET…..SADD.

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