How does the '06 Highlander perform as an occasional tow vehicle? I’m looking at towing a small/medium trailer 4-6 times a year, loads of wood, an ATV, college kid moving. I’ve found a '06 Hybrid Highlander and I’m comparing that to the Honda Pilot and the regular Highlander, but I’d prefer a hybrid.
I recommend you consult the owner’s manuals of the vehicles you are considering and see what they say about towing capacity.
Here you go:
That link says the tow capacity of the hybrid is 3500 lbs, which sounds like it should be adequate for your needs. I suspect, however, that the limiting factor in the tow rating is the body, as the Highlander is built on the Camry frame and has car-style construction. The Pilot is also car based, but is Honda’s attempt to grab part of the larger SUV market so supposedly they reinforced the frame to make it more truck-like. If you make a habit of towing, a truck based SUV like a 4Runner, etc might work better.
I drove an '06 Highlander hybrid a few times and the thing was really powerful-- you’ll have no problems with power. Though I will mention that you need to make sure that your driving conditions actually take advantage of the hybrid technology. I drove it mostly on the highway (where the hybrid system is essentially dead weight) and never got over 20 mpg, which is okay but there’s regular SUV’s that do better. So if you don’t do a lot of city driving, I’d stick with a conventional vehicle.
Also, if you go in the mountains to get wood, the Highlander is pretty useless on anything off-roadey (the owner’s manual even says do not attempt).