2008 Toyota Highlander (Kluger) Build: The BROlander

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
I’ve been visiting this site for about a year, but never joined or posted. I decided today was the day to change that. (Also, not sure if this should stay in this Toyota sub-forum or in another vehicles sub-forum...)

My wife and I are musicians with a passion for the outdoors and geology. Over the last 5 years we’ve traveled the country playing music, hounding for rocks and camping in the most remote locations we could get to. For awhile we were traveling in a 1996 lifted Dodge B Van named Delores. She was equipped with a modular bed, storage, refrigeration and solar as well as a 2” lift and 30” firestones. As great as Delores was, she only averaged about 10MPG w/o gear.

Last year we ended up selling Delores and using the cash to purchase a 2008 Highlander Sport from the original owner, my dad. The Highlander was not my first choice for a new vehicle, but my dad was in a hurry to sell and we needed a vehicle that met our touring needs:
• Seats at least 4 adults, a dog and lots of gear
• Gets over 20 MPG
• Can tow a trailer/toy hauler/ camper
• Reliability of a Toyota

After driving the Highlander for about a year I seriously considered trading it in for a 4runner, Tacoma or even Sequoia. But each time I would go to look at one the dealer would lowball my trade-in offer or the loan terms were never quite right. Long story short, I decided to just keep the highlander and see just how expedition-worthy it can be. I know it’s not the best platform for building an off-road rig (it’s basically just a tall Camry with 4WD), but it still has a lot of things that I was looking for in another vehicle plus I’ve already paid it off.

I’ve decided to name the project The Brolander and I’ve been working on it for the last 2 weeks. So far all I’ve done is rhino-line the bumpers and fender wells, installed a roof rack and installed some recovery tow hitches.

I’ve also ordered a set of King Springs 40mm lift springs, Monroe extended travel shocks, bull bar, Hella Rally lights, Black Oak LED Bar, roof rack canopy and gas tank mount for the rear hatch. (Check this thread in a few weeks to see what it looks like when all of this is installed.)
Other plans for the Brolander include:

• Modular bed with storage and a slide-out cooktop (going in place of the 3rd row seat)
• Fabricate an aluminum skidplate
• More lighting
• Larger roof rack that can support a tent and more toys
• Downsize 19” wheels to 17” wheels with 255/75/17 A/T Tires

Not 100% sure how to do photos, but here are some photos from our first week-long rockhound trip to Wiley Wells and Quartzsite. The other photos are the rhino-line bumpers and TRD recovery hitches. The last photo is a Australian Kluger with the same King Springs Lift and 255/75/17 A/T Tires.

HL 2.jpgIMG_1256.jpgHL 1.jpgHL 5.5.jpgHL 6.jpg
 

Watt maker

Active member
Definitely will be one of a kind. I don't think I've ever seen anyone do anything past tinting the windows on the highlander.
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
Definitely will be one of a kind. I don't think I've ever seen anyone do anything past tinting the windows on the highlander.
There's not a lot of aftermarket support to take the HL off-road, but fortunately I don't mind fabricating some stuff and getting creative. Also, I'm not trying to take this thing over huge boulders or anything. I just want to get further away from the other campsites and a little closer to the hiking/biking trails :smiley_drive:
 

krax

Adventurer
There's a guy on another forum doing a similar thing with a RAV4. It's got a snorkel. There's more to it than having the "right" vehicle.

I bet you could get pretty far with AWD and a set of Maxtrax.

I do wonder if you shouldn't invest into a replacement 4WD rather than mod the Highlander beyond resale.
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
There's a guy on another forum doing a similar thing with a RAV4. It's got a snorkel. There's more to it than having the "right" vehicle.

I bet you could get pretty far with AWD and a set of Maxtrax.

I do wonder if you shouldn't invest into a replacement 4WD rather than mod the Highlander beyond resale.
So far, the BroLander has gotten pretty far on trails with just aired down street tires and a spotter. I'm not too worried about the resale value; I don't intend on getting rid of this thing anytime soon.
 

krax

Adventurer
I'm not too worried about the resale value; I don't intend on getting rid of this thing anytime soon.
I can relate to that feeling. I guess what I mean is, I'd hate it for you if one day you change your mind about the capabilities/limitations of the Highlander, but mods you've made to it make it harder to replace.

I've seen RTTs on some small-ish vehicles, is that something you're looking to do?
 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
If you're planning to keep it for a long time, screw resale. Do what makes you smile! I'd love to see a Highlander out getting used hard.
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
That ARB front end looks killer. Too bad I can't find it in anywhere in the US. The only place I found it had it going for $3k AUD + shipping. Springs were pretty cheap to ship over from Australia, but I doubt this thing would be cheap to ship.

And yes for now, my recovery points are Toyota OEM tow eyes that were coated yellow to match my king springs.
 

AaronK

Explorer
ARB makes a deluxe for the highlander but only a Sahara for my Tundra? Ridiculous

Sent from my OnePlus One using Tapatalk.
 
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