We certainly wish it was as easy as just answering this question and moving on. The topic of weight-distributing hitches is quite a complicated one if we’re being totally honest here. As a matter of fact, if you typed this exact question into Google, it’s not as if you’re going to get a ton of help with the matter. It requires a lot more in-depth research.

Yeah, we know, all this just sounds extremely boring, right? Well, we’ve attempted to take the boredom and research (though there will still be research required afterward) out of the equation for you. But before we answer the question directly, we need to figure out if a weight-distributing hitch for Toyota Highlander models is even necessary, to begin with. Of course, before that can be addressed, what the heck is that kind of hitch anyway?

What is a weight-distributing hitch?

This type of hitch is quite simple. It’s a hitch that’s designed to create a stable and level ride (oftentimes for much heavier loads) when towing a trailer. It kind of goes back to the name of the hitch as its job is going to be to efficiently distribute weight. Though you can obviously get more detailed when talking about the specifics and all that, the concept of one is very simple.

We’ve written another article on some of the things you need to consider before buying a weight distribution hitch. Give it a read!

Is a weight-distributing hitch for Toyota Highlander models required?

We’re referencing the official manual for the 2022 Toyota Highlander for this answer, for the record. When needing the same question answered for a different vehicle, referencing said vehicle’s owner’s manual is going to be the best way to achieve the answer. Back to business, here’s what the 2022 Highlander’s manual states.

“If the gross trailer weight is over 5000 lb. (2200 kg), a weight-distributing hitch with sufficient capacity is required.” Well, there you go. That pretty much leaves no doubt. However, there’s something that we’re kind of puzzled by. This information can be found in the manual but when you learn of the towing capacity of the 2022 Highlander, it gets puzzling.

The towing capacity for the Toyota Highlander

Not all Toyota Highlander models will have the same towing capacities, but we just figured we’d use the 2022 model as an example. Of course, even that model has different configuration options. Looking at the towing capacity, when properly equipped, it can handle up to 5000 pounds. Indeed, can you now see why all this is kind of confusing?

The 2022 Highlander can handle, at maximum, 5000 pounds. Yet, in the manual, it claims a weight-distributing hitch is only required if the gross trailer weight being pulled is over 5000 pounds. In other words, technically, a weight-distributing hitch is never going to be mandatory as the 2022 Highlander shouldn’t be towing anything over 5000 pounds. Then again, even with loads around 3000 to 4000 pounds, this type of hitch can still be nice to have for safety and efficiency.

What hitches fits the Toyota Highlander?

Yep, we know, we haven’t really answered this question directly. It’s not that easy to do so. For starters, a proper hitch for Toyota Highlander models is going to be required. After all, a weight-distributing hitch itself is going to require many components in order to work. This includes a Class III, IV, or V trailer hitch receiver (and it needs to be rated to handle weight distribution). These types of hitches are also quite expensive and can be a little tricky to find. It might be easiest to stick to online shopping for them.

Will a weight-distributing hitch increase towing capacity?

This right here is something very interesting to look at. If you were to buy a weight distribution hitch for Toyota Highlander models, would it then increase the towing capacity of the respective model? No, not only will the towing capacity of the vehicle not increase but neither will the towing capacity of the hitch. The weight-distributing system will simply allow you to tow at the maximum capacity and do so efficiently.

So, no, it won’t increase towing capacity but will increase towing efficiency. Speaking of such, let’s look into that a little bit deeper.

In reality, how much does weight distribution even help?

Okay, so let’s get into the specifics a little bit about what happens when your vehicle tows a trailer. Taking into example a rear-mounted, standard hitch, the tongue weight of the towed trailer will be transferred to the tow vehicle’s rear axle. This action can weigh down the back end of the vehicle and the rear axle can end up bearing too much weight.

With a weight-distributing hitch installed, spring bars will apply leverage to help transfer the load to all the axles on the trailer and vehicle. Again, it goes back to the concept of weight distribution. It just makes everything safer and more efficient.

What’s the moral of the story?

The moral of the story is this. From a sheer technical standpoint, a weight distribution hitch isn’t necessary for Toyota Highlanders and finding one that fits really comes down to getting the right hitch, in the first place. Perhaps maybe not the answer (or answers) that you thought you’d get with this article, but (again) it’s a somewhat tricky question to answer.

Now, with all that said, a weight-distributing hitch for Toyota Highlander models can still be really nice to have for loads that get a little heavy. We hope this was of some assistance to you.