Installing a Curt Trailer Hitch on a New Toyota Highlander

Several readers have written in to ask for alternatives to Toyota’s trailer hitch for the new Highlander. While I’ve previously written up details re: the Toyota hitch, I haven’t talked much about aftermarket options.

Long story short, I’ve always been a fan of Curt hitches. I’ve had one installed on each of my past two vehicles, and I’ve heard good things about their options for the Highlander. So when it came time to get a hitch on my Highlander, my attention naturally turned to Curt.

As it turns out, they make two different class 3 receiver hitches for the Highlander: the older Curt 13169 hitch and the newer Curt 13200 hitch. Both can accommodate a 900 lb tongue weight, and both also have a 6,000 lb total towing capacity.

Note: These limits are higher than the stated towing capacity of the Highlander, so a Curt hitch should more than adequate for your towing needs.

Curt 13169 vs. Curt 13200

It seems that the only difference between the two is that the 13200 is a newer, re-designed version that’s easier to install. The 13169 requires you to install an bracket to drop the exhaust a bit lower. The 13200 requires no such modification, making it the better choice.

These hitches both list for around $320, though the 13200 can be had on Amazon (and probably elsewhere) for ca. $160 w/free shipping. As for installation, you can either have it done professionally (we have a local locksmith that also does hitches; U-Haul is another option) or you can DIY.

Installation and wiring

The hitch installation process is pretty straightforward. It’s not as easy as installing crossbars, but it’s not exactly rocket science. You’ll need to trim an underbody panel but, other than that, you’ll mostly be turning a bunch of bolts.

If your Highlander has the tow prep package (XLE or above for 2014/2015 models or any 6-cylinder version in 2016), the wiring is dead easy. You just need to install a plug-and-play wiring harness (Curt T-Connector 56042). If you don’t have the tow prep package, then you’ll need the slightly more costly and complicated Curt T-Connector 56217.

So, to recap… Curt makes excellent hitches. I’ve used them for years. They have a lifetime warranty and are priced quite competitively. If you want to go this route, you can get everything you need by ordering:

You might also want to throw in a ball mount…

And yes, I do have a Curt hitch installed on my Highlander, along with their ball mount w/a 2 inch ball.

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3 comments… add one
  • Fernando Jan 2, 2016

    Please note that if your Highlander came with a normal size rim/tire, IT WILL NOT FIT! Most of the hitches were made based on a small spare tire! So if your vehicle came with a standard size rim/tire, make sure the manufacturer guarantees it will fit! I am currently at the place I bought/installed mine fighting for them to take it back…

  • Stephen May 6, 2016

    towing a 3,500 Lance Trailer. Experiencing more movement ,surging/updown, anyone upgrade suspension to address this ? Heavier duty shocks, …..

  • Carlton Hall Aug 1, 2017

    I bought a Curt 13200 trailer hitch for my 2017 Highlander XLE. Amazon states that neither the Curt T-Connector 56042 or 56217 is compatible with my vehicle. Do you know if either will work or do you have another part number.

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