I know what you’re thinking. “A RAV4 hybrid? That’s not really a tow rig, is it?”
Well, the truth is that this question has come up more than once in our shop, so we decided to take a closer look at it.
What we found might surprise you! Read on to find out if your RAV4 can tow or not.
Can a RAV4 hybrid Tow a Trailer?
A RAV4 Hybrid can tow a trailer, but keep in mind that the “hybrid” part of the equation does limit your options when it comes to what you can tow with it. To tow something with a RAV4 hybrid, you will need what’s called an “electric vehicle towing package.”
The purpose of an electric vehicle towing package is to increase the amount of weight that the car can pull.
It does this by providing additional power from the battery pack and regenerative braking system.
There are currently two choices for your RAV4 when it comes to an electric vehicle towing package:
1. A motorhome tow prep is the simplest option.
This basic package requires you to get an auxiliary charging cable that hooks up to your RAV4’s onboard charger.
If you are planning on using this option, make sure you get the upgraded plug kit.
This version comes with a motorhome adapter cord that directly connects your motorhome or RV electrical system for charging.
2. The other option is an “RV Connect” kit with a more advanced onboard charger.
It’s essentially an interface box that allows you to hook up to your trailer’s batteries and draw power from them to charge the RAV4’s battery pack.
This is now the recommended package for RAV4 hybrids.
The electric vehicle towing package will allow you to pull up to 3,500 pounds with your RAV4 hybrid, which should be more than enough for most trailers.
However, it’s important to note that you can’t just hook up a trailer and start driving around without doing some preparation.
You will need to adjust the tire and suspension settings and ensure that your RAV4’s battery pack is fully charged.
Steps to Prepare your RAV4 for Towing
After you have the electric vehicle towing package installed, you will have to do a few other things before your car can tow.
The first thing is to ensure that your tires are properly inflated.
This is best achieved with a unique tire pressure gauge designed for RVs that automatically shut off when it reads the correct pressure.
It would be best if you never relied on your car’s built-in tire pressure sensors to provide an accurate reading, as they are not designed to read this low pressures.
The other thing you need to do is to set the suspension up for towing.
This involves adjusting the vehicle’s height to sit level, which is essential since you don’t want your trailer to be too low or high.
You also need to adjust the front and rear pretensioners so that they can handle extra weight from a trailer.
Since this may be too technical for some people, dealers should do this for you.
If you are thinking of buying a RAV4 hybrid to tow something, make sure that it already has the electric vehicle towing package installed.
It’s also important to remember that not all RAV4 combinations come with this option since Toyota only offers select models.
The best way to find out if your RAV4 can tow something is by checking its user manual under the specifications section since this information should be provided there.
If you can’t get ahold of a copy of your vehicle’s manual, or if it doesn’t have the relevant specification listed for some reason, you can also check it on the RAV4’s window sticker.
Some RAV4s have a small decal located on the inside of their driver-side back door with a number that begins with “8” followed by a few letters and numbers.
This is the Vehicle Identification Number, which you can use to look up specific information online.
Type this number into Google or your preferred search engine, and you should be able to find the information you are looking for, assuming that all of the letters and numbers match up.
Of course, this isn’t possible if you have a RAV4 hybrid that is more than just a few years old since there wouldn’t be enough relevant data to narrow down the possibilities.
In this case, your best bet is to contact a Toyota dealer and ask them what the options are.
Most dealerships will have access to a service that gives them access to each vehicle’s history, which should tell you if your RAV4 has been modified in any way.
What is a Trailer Hitch?
A trailer hitch is a piece of hardware that attaches to the back of your vehicle and allows you to haul around another car or similar object.
Most modern cars have trailer hitches installed as standard equipment, although some people will install one on their own if they plan on hauling stuff.
Trailer hitches work by using a clamp or bracket system to attach to the receiver, a tube-like opening located on the back of your vehicle.
This is generally what you’ll see hanging down from most SUVs and trucks when they are hooked up to a trailer.
To use it, slide your trailer’s ball hitch into the receiver and start towing.
How Do You Rate a Trailer Hitch?
Other factors can affect your hauling capability as well, such as tongue weight.
This means how much weight the ball hitch is experiencing once it’s hooked up to the trailer, so even if your hitch is rated for a certain amount of weight, it could become overloaded if too much weight is placed on the ball.
However, it would be best if you also thought about what’s called “gross trailer weight,” which is how much your loaded-up trailer weighs when adding in all of its components.
So if you have a 1,000-pound hitch and you’re towing a 2,500-pound trailer, you don’t want to put too much weight on the ball because the tongue weight would be over 1,500 pounds.
This is why it’s always best to check your owner’s manual for specific information about hauling things with your vehicle.
This section will include the gross trailer weight, tongue weight, and maximum towing capacity, which are essential.
How to Install a Trailer Hitch on your RAV4 Hybrid?
Toyota RAV4 is one of the few SUVs whose trailer hitch receiver isn’t meant to tow.
It’s very ironic for such a vast and powerful vehicle like the RAV4 hybrid, but if you want to use your car as a small truck, there are certain things you need to install on your own – and we’re talking about trailer hitch for RAV4.
The stock bumper on your vehicle cannot receive a ball mount because it has too little distance between its end and the exhaust pipe that can be dangerous if you want to pull trailers or carriers with bikes attached.
The easiest way to fix this problem is by installing an aftermarket tow hitch receiver.
If you want to install a new hitch on your RAV4, the first thing you need is to open up the rear hatch and raise the rear bumper, so it’s easier for you to work.
Then move towards the back of your vehicle and remove all plastic coverings until you expose both tail lights assemblies.
After that, check if there is a wire running from the top to the bottom of your vehicle – if it’s there, disconnect it and obliterate tail lights.
Now that you have removed both lights, scrutinize them and see which one has two wires running into it.
If they are both white, you can install a 4-pole connector and use them as stoplights, but if they are yellow and black, you’re out of luck.
This means that both tail lights are most likely running on the same circuit, so there’s no way to install a 4-pole connector without digging deeper into your RAV4 hybrid’s electrical system.
Moving forward with the installation process, attach a 4-pole mating connector on the base of your vehicle’s receiver and then slide an adapter into the back of each taillight.
This is all you have to do with one side, so repeat this process with the other one as well.
It doesn’t matter if it’s more difficult or not – make sure that both lights are installed tightly.
Finally, secure everything with zip ties, so they don’t come off while you’re driving and you’re all set.
Just use the same steps when assembling your RAV4 back together, but remember reconnecting that wire for both tail lights to function correctly.
The answer to the question is yes; a RAV4 hybrid can tow a trailer.
However, you should be sure that your vehicle has an engine with enough power for this type of operation.
You also need to make sure you have the appropriate wiring harness and hitch installed to attach it securely.
We’re happy to help get your car ready for its next adventure on or off-road.