2008 Toyota Highlander (Kluger) Build: The BROlander

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
This weekend was pretty productive. I was able to get the front struts and springs installed, picked up some recovery items (D-rings, recovery strap, mobile compressor/jump starter/inverter, shovel, gas can, cargo bin), worked on my Harley and went out to the desert for some rock hounding and a shakedown run on the Brolander.

Unfortunately, the HL spent its first 7 years in harsh D.C. winters and Florida rain storms and has plenty of rust to show for it. The bolts that were holding on the strut were so rusted out that we couldn't get them out with an impact the first day. We ended up just spraying penetrating compound on the all the bolts for about half an hour and put the wheels back on til the next day. The rust also got the rotors pretty good, so instead of trying to resurface them I just ordered all new ones and will wait to install my pads until they come in.

I didn't get any pictures of the "during" process of the build because I just wanted to get them done. I opted to just do the front suspension for now since I didn't get the right springs for the rear. I didn't feel like taking the time to replace the rear strut using the OEM spring if I was just going to have to redo it when the correct King Springs arrived. The rear struts should be replaced the front struts NEEDED to be replaced (the strut mount bearing on both sides were completely demolished and the passenger side strut was pretty warn). However, after driving around on the King Springs all I can say is they are SUPER STIFF. I’ve driven a lot of different cars with a lot of different suspension set ups (2001 Subaru Impreza RS on Eibach pros and KYB’s, 1969 C10 both with a 2” lift and 33” mudders and then eventually a 5/7” drop on 14’s, 2007 Mazda 3 with Tein Coilovers, 91 CRX with almost every coilover kit you can think of), and these springs are some of the stiffest. All of that too say I’m not sure if I want the rear to be that stiff too. So now I’m trying to decide if I should just keep the stock height in the back with the OEM springs and only lift the front or if I should just say whatever and go for it. I’m going to see how it handles during my camping trip this week to decide what I should do from there.

Also, I just ordered five 17x7 Cragar steelies to mount my A/T tires to (https://www.summitracing.com/parts/crr-83-7714/overview/)
Unfortunately, I’m outta funds right now since I’ve also decided to rebuild my Harely while also trying to rebuild by HL so the wheels will be sitting w/o tires until I get paid again. However, I did install new bars, new fork boots, new brake pads, new sissy bar, new rear shocks, rebuilt the carb, changed the fluids and started custom fabbing my new 2-1 exhaust.
 

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Overado

Observer
My mom had an 06 Highlander hybrid and I always thought that it would make a sweet exploration rig with a mild lift bigger tires and some bar work! (And a way to turn off the intelligence in 4wdi and have it be a true 4wd not a computer deciding what tire got power)
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
Just got back from 5 days in the desert. The Brolander held up very well. I decided that some of the things I had wanted to do are just not going to be practical or worth the time/investment.

-KING SPRINGS are definitely worth the investment and I'm working with the Australian distributor to get my rear springs exchanged for the correct ones
-Building a bed in the back is impractical because there's not enough headroom in the cab
-A/T tires are now my top priority

We spent the first night at Midland LTVA in Blythe, CA. Drove from Midland out to the Arlington Standard Mine. From Midland to the Blythe Intaglios. From Blythe to La Paz LTVA. From La Paz LTVA to Crystal Hill. From Crystal Hill to Phoenix. From Phoenix to Glamis. From Glamis to Salvation Mountain. From Salvation mountain we stayed on 78 all the way back to the coast.

We tried to stay off the road AMAP, but it proved to be more difficult than expected. We averaged over 18+ MPG even with staying below 30MPH most of the trip, the gear on the roof rack and the rear cab being loaded to the max. It was definitely a good learning trip. I learned that the Brolander is capable off road, so long as there aren't huge ruts or boulders. Even with passenger tires we did just fine in the sand, on the rocks and in some light mud.

I still need to mount my Hella lights and LED bar (would've been very helpful out there at night), install the new wheels and A/T tires, and install the rear springs. I think that's all I'll be doing. I want to modify it more than this, but in reality I understand the limitation of this rig and don't want to invest all the time and money on it just to be disappointed that it's not performing like a real 4wd. I think the springs, roof rack, lights and A/T tires will make this thing as capable as it's ever going to be. Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

Enjoy the photos.
 

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TheVagabondMBA

Observer
My mom had an 06 Highlander hybrid and I always thought that it would make a sweet exploration rig with a mild lift bigger tires and some bar work! (And a way to turn off the intelligence in 4wdi and have it be a true 4wd not a computer deciding what tire got power)
That's pretty much my vision. Nothing super hardcore. Just enough to get out. I wish they put a real 4wd in it. Well TBH I wish my dad didn't trade his 2006 Sequoia in for the HL. I loved the Sequoia and always told him I wanted to buy it from him. Oh well...
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
The family just did 4 days, 208 miles (196 off highway and 12 paved miles to connect the trails) throughout the Colorado Desert of California. Before the trip I installed new rotors and pads all around as well as flushed the brake fluid, changed the oil and the transmission fluid. I also trimmed off the front bumper and installed my skid plate. The skid only covers the front and oil pan. Trying to figure out if I want to put more under there or just leave it alone.

Highlander handled the trails very well. According to my backcountry adventure atlas we didn’t do anything harder than a 4/10 and the Brolander didn’t struggle at all. Desert camping season is pretty much over now since the heat is coming, but I’ll be getting the Brolander ready for some beach camping and a Summer Tour. Until next time, enjoy the photos.

Indian Pass Trail looking down into the wash (the only challenging part of the drive is right here: lots of rocks, ruts, narrow roads and steep banks):

Further down the trail and lower in the wash:


At the bottom of the wash it turns into loose sand and gravel for about 15 miles:


Eventually you end up at 4-S Beach in the Picacho State Rec Area:

Then you go about 2 more miles and hit this special little boat campsite:




Historical Marker:

Rockhound map:

Airing up before the highway drive back home:
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer


Finally got my steelies and BFG's. They're 245/70/17's. The wheels have too high of an offset and the tires rub a little on the springs. Ordered a set of wheel spacers and should have everything on and ready by Friday. Just in time for this weekend's camping trip.
 

TheVagabondMBA

Observer
I know where's that at. Used to live in Yuma. You guys missed the old mines in the area.
We didn't miss them. I just didn't post all the pictures. We hit up the selenite mine in glamis, american girl mine and indian pass mine. Got some good specimens from each.

https://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1711a/report.pdf


Got my spacers and wheels done. Took the Brolander out to Fiesta Island and tested him out in the sand and mud. It's amazing how much a good set of tires helps.

 

draco159

New member
Just came across this thread when looking for others who have a Highlander like myself! Any chance of rehosting the pictures from photobucket that are broken? Oh and do you have a part numbers for your corrected spring and shocks?
 

Crossoverlander

New member
I am trying to do something similar to my 2008 HL. I just bought it after totaling my first vehicle of 9 years, and am in love with it! It fits all my needs in a vehicle to do it all. I DJ weddings on the weekends and it hauls all of my DJ gear inside. I mountain bike, kayak, ski, fish, boat, camp and dirtbike and it hauls all of that either on it, in it, the 5000lb hitch, or my small 10x5 trailer! Already tried it in the snow doing donuts with all traction controls disabled and in snow, it has so much grip and takeoff without spinning out! And hauled skis on the roof already on my used Yakima crossbars and ski racks I scored on FB. Just installed the Amazon Rola roof rack basket with 16" extension to make it a 6ft roof basket and it looks so good after I rhino lined it, almost like a Yakima! I would love this to do small offroad trips on fire roads and small trails to haul all my toys to and make the perfect Daily driver and weekend warrior. When I spend 95% of the time driving on the road, I think a crossover is perfect, then the 5% I will actually haul my toys to an offroad park or camp and whatnot this should be capable....enough. I would like to add a few things to make it just a little better at hauling my stuff to make a mini-overlander. My crossover-lander haha

Here is my vision though for what I have in mind! I did this in photoshop just to see what could be.
I would love to make a front rally bar bumper guard similar to the LP-Adventure bumper guard for the Subaru Outback https://bit.ly/2RmaicB
Some RTX Envy gunmetal wheels with either Toyo Open country or BFG AT KO2
Rally LED Lights on bumper and offroad LED on the roof basket
DIY awning
paint brake calipers orange, orange TRD decals, orange Yakima sticker. Just a few orange pops of color accents. Highlander.png85c557cb-08highlander_24.jpg
 

Crossoverlander

New member
• Downsize 19” wheels to 17” wheels with 255/75/17 A/T Tires

Did you have to change rotor size for the 17's to fit? I too want to downsize to 17s because I think 19s are too big and not enough beef for tire sidewall. And then did the 255/75 tires clear with stock suspension setup or did you change the springs and then put the smaller wheels and larger tires on? Thanks!
 

Crossoverlander

New member
This weekend was pretty productive. I was able to get the front struts and springs installed, picked up some recovery items (D-rings, recovery strap, mobile compressor/jump starter/inverter, shovel, gas can, cargo bin), worked on my Harley and went out to the desert for some rock hounding and a shakedown run on the Brolander.

Unfortunately, the HL spent its first 7 years in harsh D.C. winters and Florida rain storms and has plenty of rust to show for it. The bolts that were holding on the strut were so rusted out that we couldn't get them out with an impact the first day. We ended up just spraying penetrating compound on the all the bolts for about half an hour and put the wheels back on til the next day. The rust also got the rotors pretty good, so instead of trying to resurface them I just ordered all new ones and will wait to install my pads until they come in.

I didn't get any pictures of the "during" process of the build because I just wanted to get them done. I opted to just do the front suspension for now since I didn't get the right springs for the rear. I didn't feel like taking the time to replace the rear strut using the OEM spring if I was just going to have to redo it when the correct King Springs arrived. The rear struts should be replaced the front struts NEEDED to be replaced (the strut mount bearing on both sides were completely demolished and the passenger side strut was pretty warn). However, after driving around on the King Springs all I can say is they are SUPER STIFF. I’ve driven a lot of different cars with a lot of different suspension set ups (2001 Subaru Impreza RS on Eibach pros and KYB’s, 1969 C10 both with a 2” lift and 33” mudders and then eventually a 5/7” drop on 14’s, 2007 Mazda 3 with Tein Coilovers, 91 CRX with almost every coilover kit you can think of), and these springs are some of the stiffest. All of that too say I’m not sure if I want the rear to be that stiff too. So now I’m trying to decide if I should just keep the stock height in the back with the OEM springs and only lift the front or if I should just say whatever and go for it. I’m going to see how it handles during my camping trip this week to decide what I should do from there.

Also, I just ordered five 17x7 Cragar steelies to mount my A/T tires to (https://www.summitracing.com/parts/crr-83-7714/overview/)
Unfortunately, I’m outta funds right now since I’ve also decided to rebuild my Harely while also trying to rebuild by HL so the wheels will be sitting w/o tires until I get paid again. However, I did install new bars, new fork boots, new brake pads, new sissy bar, new rear shocks, rebuilt the carb, changed the fluids and started custom fabbing my new 2-1 exhaust.
When you installed the king springs, did you use OEM struts? or is there a different taller strut you bought to match the new lift height?
 
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