2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum Blizzard Pearl profile view
Jeff Teague's picture

Why You Cannot Get a Tow Hitch for Some 2020 Toyota Highlander Models

Learn why you are not currently able to install a hitch on some 2020 Highlander trim levels.
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Toyota recently launched the fully redesigned 2020 Highlander model to favorable reviews. People seem to really enjoy the sophisticated and luxurious exterior styling. The interior cabin has been modernized with a pleasant, inviting and open atmosphere. Drivers will find plenty of new features that keep their families safer, assist in limiting distractions and help them stay more connected technologically than ever before.

However, there is one area that is in need of improvement on the 2020 Toyota Highlander. Yes, that one feature that many families require for their active and outdoor lifestyles.

On some Highlander trim levels you cannot yet get a factory-installed tow hitch.

Tow hitch for 2020 Highlander

This question is one of the most common ones I get from Torque News readers and my “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel followers: “Why can’t you get a tow hitch for Highlander?” It is a fair question.

First things first, all 2020 Highlander gasoline-only grades have a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. The Highlander Hybrid trim levels will have a tow capacity of 3,500 pounds. That would be, as Rick Springfield sang it so well, a moot point.

2020 Toyota Highlander XLE Moon Dust profile view

There is no issue getting a tow hitch for a 2020 Highlander L, LE or XLE. The problem is with Limited and Limited Platinum. This includes both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive grades, along with soon-to-be-released Highlander Hybrid. You are not able to currently order these trim levels with a factory-installed hitch.

Tow hitch, or not tow hitch, that is the question

At face level, you would think there should not be any issue getting a tow hitch for anything that has the words 2020 Highlander and Limited/Platinum together. But, these models come equipped with a standard hands-free power liftgate. In other words, they have built-in sensors that allow foot-operated opening and closing of the back hatch.

Frankly this is very practical and cool technology.

VIDEO REVIEW: I compare 2020 Highlander XLE vs Limited so you can pick the best one for you and your family.

These sensors are located in a way where, if a hitch were installed simultaneously, it would interfere with the sensors and foot-activation functions. Therefore, as of right now, you will not be able to install a factory hitch.

How to get a hitch for 2020 Highlander

I reached out to a Toyota representative and they said they are aware of the issue and are working toward a remedy, although a timeframe was not mentioned.

There may be a short-term solution, although it is certainly not a best-case scenario. You might be able to contact your local Toyota dealership accessories department about installing an aftermarket tow hitch. If installed, it would not allow for foot-activated operations, though. I guess I am saying that if you do not care about ever using this foot-motion power liftgate, then it might be an option to consider.

I will give you updates on Torque News / Toyota News page here as I get them.

Time for your thoughts on 2020 Toyota Highlander and hitches

Are you in the market in the near future for a Toyota Highlander, and if so, would a hitch be important in your decision-making process? What trim level do you think is ideal for you and your family? Are you considering the Hybrid, and if so, what are the reasons for your decision?

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: See key highlights of 2020 Highlander Hybrid Limited in this exclusive review. Please subscribe to Torque News YouTube channel for automotive and Toyota analysis.

Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I reveal a new timeline for the launch of next-gen 4Runner.

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Comments

The lack of the tailgate window not opening with the tailgate closed is more of an issue with me. How do you get in the back if you have (as I will) a powered wheelchair trailer on the back. That's moving me towards a 2018-2019 model, not the 2020.
I have been waiting and planning to purchase a 2020 Highlander for several months...specifically a Platinum or Limited model. However, this is a deal breaker for me. I must have a trailer hitch. If I am not able to have a factory trailer hitch and maintain all functions, I will shift my focus to another vehicle. Although I’m only a single purchaser, this issue will cause Toyota to lose this customer. I can’t believe that a major automaker of Toyota’s caliber would make this mistake.
Same here. We are looking at the 2020 Highlander and thought we'd go for the XLE, but the extras on the Limited looked to be worth the upgrade for us. It is a deal breaker without the factory hitch. It's really a foolish problem. I would think almost everyone looking at a Highlander would need the hitch. I hope they find a solution soon!
Are you saying that the tailgate window doesn’t open at all?
We have the Hybrid XLE-no back window opening
I recently purchased a 2020 Highlander Limited and personally don't care if I lose the under rear kick option for the rear gate. I found both Curt and Draw-Tite (76156) have hitches that will work and I much prefer the lower hitch than one hidden in the bumper. Ordered one today.
I'm sorry but a factory installed hitch hidden in the bumper is much cleaner looking. I am extremely picky about how my vehicles look and if Toyota can not manufacture a 2020 Highlander Limited/Platinum with a factory tow hitch, I will purchase a Kia or Hyundai Limited that comes with a factory hitch. I'm sure I'm not the only potential buyer who geeks this way! BMW finally got with the program and started to manufacture X3's in 2018 and X5's in 2019 with factory tow hitches because they were losing so many customers.
The only part of the hitch you see behind my Highlander Limited is the hitch itself. The rear panel was lifted about a 1/2 inch as it sits on the hitch. Only loss is the sensor for the rear hitch. When adding the bikes on the bike rack... the rear sensors advise braking... I ignore the warning as it is just the bike interfering when in reverse. Again... the entire frame of the hitch is hidden :-)
Harry what hitch did you buy? We just hit the 2020 limited and are furious that we cannot out a Toyota hutch on it. Need an aftermarket one that we know will fit ASAP. If you’d share what you bought that’s be wonderful. Many thanks.
I was at the dealer last week and found out about this issue as well. I too was looking at the Limited Hybrid to purchase. First I want to say some folks want a 2nd row bench seat even with Platinum grade luxury. I considered the Lincoln Aviator Plug In Hybrid since it had 2nd row bench with the similar luxury(Lincoln is really comfy and quiet) but felt the Toyota Highlander was a better buy at around 34 MPG for the AWD Hybrid. Also I wasn't too excited about all of the issues the Aviator had after the launch. Lincoln should have better quality control and better engineering. All were stupid issues but some were really detrimental like shifting issues and parking issues. The Toyota manufacturer tow hitch that cannot be installed is a big issue for me since I was going to get a small trailer and also I need my bike rack to go on the tow hitch since I travel for triathlons. I will more than likely look elsewhere for my car like Hyundai Palisade or Kia Telluride and even consider the Aviator again if they get their act together. Toyota, this is an extremely stupid problem and you are losing sales since I was ready to pull the trigger and put down a deposit to order mine with the color and options. Also the 12.3 inch screen needs an update! Why can't the temperature information and 1/3 of the screen go away? Some people want Android Auto, Apple Car Play all across the screen. Whoever designed the user interface needs to fix this issue. At least give the driver the option to hide this screen unless it is needed to display the temperature. This issue made me think to take the standard size screen but now I don't get the 360 birds eye camera option. Also what is the point of the initial 360 rotate view when you turn on this mode? I just want to see the top view of the car so I can check the lines in a parking lot or for parallel parking. The 360 rotational view cannot be used efficiently when parallel parking on a busy street. Or again give us an option on how this is implemented for the driver. Last gripe on the Limited and XLE model. Who decided to place the 2nd row conditioning vents in the passenger's face. It's literally right above the head area. The LE models and Platinum models have it on the side but XLE and Limited have it in a really awkward location. Blows straight into your face and really can't direct it anywhere else. WHY DID YOU DO THAT!? Some positives though: 1.) Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is nice since now it can work in California traffic conditions in full range speed. 2.) Hybrid warranty increase is awesome. Good way to fight back against Tesla and their all electric car battery warranty. I feel way more comfortable with Toyota's hybrids than Tesla's. So close to purchasing the car but can't drop $50K+(it's an expensive car!) with these issues. What a shame since I've been a Toyota and Lexus loyalist for over 2 decades. Unfortunately issues like these create conquest buyers to other brands.
I had a Toyota hitch installed on my 2020 Highlander Platinum. The kit came from Toyota dealer. They missed the fact that a converter is needed to complete wiring. The kit had a heavy box with tow receiver with wiring harness, a 5 foot long box with a black plastic lower bumper cover (replaced silver cover), two boxes with lower covers left and right, and then the converter. They printed instructions and the converter has separate instructions. Besides the converter snafu that costs me $100 to diagnose no power to wiring harness it went well. It is a might do it yourself but hitch is heavy so you need two people. Toyota wants 4 hours to install.
Could you perhaps list actual Toyota part numbers used for kit and converter?
Purchased 2020 Highlander Platinum. Toyota claims hitch won't work due to kick sensor. Did you disable this feature?Also was hitch kit Toyota part # PT22848200. Is converter included in kit. What was the converter solution. Aftermarket shop can get a Curtis hitch that Curtis says will work and not interfere with foot kick sensor. Toyota is adamant that their hitch will not work with any Highlander Limited or Platinum due to kick sensor issue.
Hello I'm thinking about doing the tow receiver from the dealer do have a picture of how it looks I don't care for the foot activation I care for the silver plastic cover thinking of painting it
Bill, do you have part numbers? We have put a deposit on a 2020 hybrid platinum and they advised nothing available but an after market install was 800.00? Any details would be great. Thanks
I own Highlander 2020 Platinum and need a hitch. Cannot we install Toyota original hitch for XLE AWD model and remove/disable a foot kick sensor opener for the back door. What is wrong with this approach
I had the Toyota hitch installed on my 2020 Highlander Platinum. I disconnected the foot sensor and turned it off in the dashboard settings. Note there is a converter for the wiring harness that is needed. Dealer can print instructions for hitch and converter.
Thanks Bill. So, in summary, I could install the original Toyota Hitch with the original Toyota wiring harness. I have to disconnect/remove the foot sensor and turn off in the dashboard settings. Great news!!!
Hitch with wiring harness: PT228-48200 210 HLDR TOWH $425 RH Rear Undercover PT228-48203 207 HLDR CLOS $ 35 Lower Bumper Cover PT228-48204 207 HLDR TOWH $ 45 LH Rear Undercover PT228-48202 207 HLDR CLOS $ 39 Converter PT725-48200 HLDR TOWIREHAR CO $93
Like one of your other responders, I too held off on a purchase of the 2019 Highlander Limited, simply becuase I knew that the redesign would be coming in the 2020 model. I need the towing capability without any questions, and currently drive a Limited trim Highlander, so I am not about to drop down a level to the XLE trim. If this problem is not corrected by May 2020 I will have no other option but to explore other vehicles. I've been driving Toyota's for over fifty years (my first was a 1968 four-door Corona sedan) and would hate to have to switch to a different brand, but I absolutely need to have the towing capability that the lower grade trim lines provide.
Bill, I am in the same boat waiting for a hitch. Can you tell me which Toyota dealer you used?
terrible planning. I want ventilated seats as well which are only in platinum. I also want a hitch for jet ski, bikes, etc. Terrible planning
This is a deal breaker for me. I definitely desire the convenience and performance options standard in the Limited trim, but I will not buy an SUV that does not have a factory installed tow hitch. What a bonehead move, Toyota. Can't a hole be drilled the hitch mounting structure on one side of the receiver tube and mount the lift gate sensor there?
Foot sensor is hard to move as it is a long wire loop that detects motion and it would be bad if hatch opens when you don't want it to or closes when some legs are hanging out. Just toss the foot sensor and use the hand button to open and close hatch. Toyota hitch for 2020 Highlander XLE works and looks fine.
Bill - did you have to cut a hole in the bumper to fit the hitch? Our toytota dealer told us that in addition to the foot sensor problem the they'd have to cut a hole in the bumper to install the hitch!
I purchased a 2020 Highlander platinum with a hitch and when I went to pick it up they told me it would be about 6 weeks before the hitch could be installed. At that point I had read this and other posts. I lost faith in the dealer and cancelled the deal. I still want one but may have to wait until 2021 I guess. Any updares out there on this hitch issue?
Well, I'm in the boat with some of you who now own a 2020 Platinum Highlander and thought that 5000 lb towing capacity was just that. My utility trailer in my side yard sits idle now as I have no communication from Toyota on when they will have a hitch for my platinum. I have the wiring harness and converter they gladly had me pay for, but no hitch. Very frustrating. Would appreciate any updates if anyone has any. Thank you!!
I really like the looks of my hitch made by Toyota. There is a horizontal cover plate under each side of the back, next to the muffler and on the other side, and a black plastic lower bumper cover. It really matches the black plastic that runs along the bottom of the sides from the wheels to the reflectors. The hich parts were expensive but it is a one time cost lasting the life of the car. By using the Toyota hitch it gives a little more ground clearance to avoid scraping on a steep driveway. There was a reply from a person that painted the lower bumper cover, and that looked good also. The after market hitches install just below the existing silver lower bumper cover and looks very good (you might have to trim some tabs off the cover, but it can be cut with a razor utility knife