Rear Bumper Protector for the 2014-2015 Toyota Highlander

A reader named Sue recently asked the following:

“After unloading some heavy luggage, I realized that our Highlander has nothing protecting the top of the rear bumper. Walking around the neighborhood, I saw that nearly every other SUV has a plastic or rubber strip on their back bumper. I did find a chrome option online, but I’d prefer a simple black rubber option. Are you aware of any aftermarket products that might work?”

Sue is correct, the Highlander’s rear bumper is naked as can be. And it’s also painted to match the color of the vehicle. Thus, it’s pretty susceptible to ugly damage when loading and unloading luggage, etc.

When it comes to official Toyota solutions, you really only have two options for protecting your bumper. You can install their bumper protector or their bumper applique. The former is the chrome-finished bumper guard that Sue referenced, while the latter is a clear film protector.

As always, these can be found online for less than the dealer would likely charge. For example, the bumper protector lists for $129.95, but it can be found on Amazon for ca. $100 w/free shipping. Similarly, the applique lists for $69.00 but can be found on Amazon for under $50.

Our Highlander actually came with a “clear paint protection” package that included the rear bumper film. This seems to work, but I’m not crazy about paint protection films as they can discolor over time, and they tend to collect gunk along their edges. I’ve thus been thinking about peeling it off and replacing it with the chrome bumper protector.

As for third party options, I’m not entirely sure. I did a bit of digging, and found this universal protector. It’s cheap, and the reviews are quite positive, so it may be worth a shot — though you might need to use three across (they come in a two-pack) to protect the full width.

Another possibility would be to simply buy Toyota’s chrome protector and coat it with black Plasti-Dip, which is a spray-on rubber coating. It would be a bit of extra work, but Plasti-Dip works quite well (in general) and you’d end up with an OEM fit minus the chrome look.

What about you? Have you had any problems with bumper damage when loading or unloading the rear cargo area? Have you done anything to protect it? Please share your experiences in the comments section, below.

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13 comments… add one
  • Allen Jun 26, 2015

    Our Highlander came with nothing on the bumper. After twice going to the grocery and have items fall onto the bumper we installed the crome protector. Purchased on Ebay from a Toyota dealer. They charged alot less than the dealer here in town. The protector looks classy. Just be aware it’s a 2 person job to get in on straight and not to have one side stick before you actually want it to. Good luck.

  • John S. Jun 26, 2015

    Hi Sue,
    Regarding the rear bumper protection, for all my vehicles over the last several years and now my 2015 Highlander Hybrid, I have used and inexpensive soft rubber foam mat that I kept laying flat in the back. When I needed to load or unload an item that may scuff the bumper or weatherstripping, I just laid it over the area I was concerned about and voila! You can also use something else such as a thick towel or similar material or even a piece of carpet that an even match you interior. Whatever you decide to use, consider also that it can be used to wrap or protect things from scratching.

  • Jeff Jun 30, 2015

    This must be a bit different on the Canadian models (at least Limited) since mine came with the chrome protector in your link above.

  • Robert Oldakowski Jul 31, 2015

    Hi Michael: I have a Saris bike rack that fit nicely on my 2013 Highlander. The fit isn’t as nice on my 2015 Highlander. Do you know of any bike racks that folks like for the new model?

    Thanks,
    Robert

  • John S. Sep 11, 2015

    I have the chrome bumper protector from the factory, it helps a lot but I still use the soft foam mat. I also recently purchased the Toyota cargo net, it works great, keeps things from falling out when the hatch door is opened.

  • Jack S. Nov 6, 2015

    I just turned in my two 2008 Toyota’s last week. One was a Highlander Sport which I gave to my son and it came with a black plastic bumper cover at that time and a Rav 4 6 cyl which had no protection. It is the edge that easily damages, so the idea of loading with a rug, blanket or cover over the bumper is the best idea. And the least expensive.
    My new 2015 Highlander Limited Platinum came with the chrome cover, but I will use the blanket idea on this one too because the edge is unprotected.
    Michael, really appreciate your column. Good insights and sharing with other owners. Now is the good time to buy a 2015…Got my Limited Platinum with tons of bells and whistles for about the same price as the XLE a few months ago when I had started reading your blog. Keep up the good work. And since there are no changes in the 2016, it is a good deal!

  • fred May 2, 2016

    i just purchased a new 2016 highlander xle 3 things toyota should have seen the drivers side view mirror shows a reflection of the chrome on the dashboard left upper vent, they should have installed a rear bumper protector to protect the rear bumper from scratches,no key to lock clovebox,and no touchup paint 39,500

    • Dee Dec 9, 2016

      Fred- that reflection drives me nuts.

  • Jim May 13, 2016

    Hello Michael:
    I would suggest that Sue should go to a local marina. They have excellent rubber mats to place on boat steps that come with a waterproof double faced tape and they can be trimmed to fit for about $15.00. My Toyota came with the chrome protector but a friend told me that he much preferred the rubber and I have to agree.
    Jim

  • Mark Jul 5, 2016

    This seems like a good alternative to the chrome strip.

    http://www.landerfan.com/goto/amazon.php?asin=B01DJI8PHO

  • levy murdaugh Nov 12, 2016

    I have bought and installed this one. I like it, and it works and looks good. It does not go under the hatch all the way, but protects most of the top of the bumper in the affected area.

  • Ron Dec 2, 2016

    I purchased a black rubber protector from Amazon. Seller was JuicedHybrid. $79.00. Held on by 3M doublesided tape. Easy to install and works well. Didn’t want the chrome Toyota one. I recommend it.

  • Dee Dec 9, 2016

    I keep a flat piece of cardboard to cover bumper & weatherstripping when loading/unloading. Also having the tow hitch helps as a “step” to get to roof.

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