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Custom sound for a 2017 Toyota Highlander

We assemble a competition-worthy Pioneer system in a sweet SUV

Jason with the Pioneer Toyota Highlander

To show off their dedication to superior car sound, Pioneer sent us a pile of their newest gear...and a 2017 Toyota Highlander. To show off what our in-house installers are capable of, we tasked Jason, installer extraordinaire in our Harrisonburg, Virginia, store with creating a custom setup that would accomplish three goals:

  • to sound amazing,
  • to look exciting,
  • and to maintain as much of the Highlander's original design as possible.

We can safely say that he was more than up to the task.

Take a quick spin through our photos below to see where the project currently stands. It's a work in progress, so check back soon to see the finished product in all its glory!

Jason explains the custom speaker bracket

Custom work for a unique installation

In major installations, sometimes it's the little things that make the difference. Jason built custom speaker brackets to get the fit and installation angle just right.

The AVH-2330NEX installed in the dash

A Pioneer DVD receiver headlines the show

The Pioneer AVH-2330NEX looks sleek and smooth in the Highlander's dash. It's a powerful receiver that makes the perfect brain for the entire system.

The custom amp-and-sub rack

Custom racks for the amps and subs

Jason built a custom rack for the two GM-D8601 mono amps and the two Z Series 10" shallow-mount subs. The angles of the subwoofers are great for the acoustics. The poles on which the amps sit allow the wires to be routed cleanly and out of sight, and the amps' tone controls are easy to get to. What's also great about this setup is that the back seats can still be adjusted or folded down if need be.

Jason also built a custom fiberglass rack in the side of the Highlander's cargo area for the GM-D8604 4-channel amp that drives the front and rear door speakers. And just for some extra fun style, blue LEDs accent both custom racks.

The custom tweeter mounts

New Pioneer speakers deliver on the sound

To ensure excellent soundstaging from the Z Series component speakers up front, Jason custom-mounted the tweeters on the dash, facing the listener. The installation is elegantly subtle, but the sonic effects most certainly are not.

Oh, and the overall sound? Nothing short of breathtaking. It's clean, powerful, accurate, and incredibly well balanced. Pioneer's newest gear really does knock the sound out of the park.

And Jason has created an ideal listening space without performing major modifications to the Highlander. It's a great reminder that with the right gear, phenomenal sound is within anyone's reach.

Go behind the scenes with our video

Check out this short video for more information and a peek at how some of the craft work was done. 

Get expert help from Crutchfield

If you're ready to start putting together your ideal system, we invite you to give one of our expert advisors a call at 1-888-955-6000.

  • Nile Simon from East Orange

    Posted on 6/2/2021

    I know that it has been a few years,, bit I have a 2016 Highlander XLE, and I really love the fiberglass box in the side cargo area. I am in the process of getting a 6 channel amp/DSP and it would be nice to have it tucked away in there. The custom tweeter are very cool,as I also have component speakers for the front. PLEASE let me know if this is something that can can be made to order.

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    Jon Paul from Crutchfield

    on 6/4/2021

    Nile, Not by us, but a car audio shop in your area might be able to make this happen. Good luck! And when you finish the project, visit our Custom Car Showroom and tell us all about your truck.
  • Keith H from Saint Joseph

    Posted on 5/6/2020

    Do you lose the ability to change vehicle setup settings that ran in the oem radio? Settings like lift gate height, or one button unlock, etc? Is there a way to keep that if you change out the head unit?

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    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 5/8/2020

    Keith, depending on the touchscreen receiver and the vehicle, the addition of an iDatalink Maestro module and vehicle-specific harnesses allows you retain vehicle features.
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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/8/2018

    James, I'm passing along your question to our team of advisors to ensure you get everything you need for this installation. That said, yes, that harness will allow you to use the factory satellite radio antenna. However, you'll still need to purchase the SiriusXM SXV300V1 tuner.

  • James Nelson from Tucson

    Posted on 3/5/2018

    I have the same exact Highlander (2017 SE Silver) and have a bunch of equipment in my cart on your website. Questions if its not too late... I plan on putting in a Pioneer AVIC-8201NEX. Were you able to keep the existing Satellite radio antenna and GPS antenna with the wiring harnesses offered by Crutchfield? Or did you have to add the ACC-SAT-TO2? Finally, did you have to add a new Sirius XM tuner or was there an OEM one available to be reused? Those are the only pieces of research I still cannot find answers to. Great work on that install!

  • Todd from Dallas

    Posted on 1/20/2018

    I love the custom dash panel speaker cover/mounts. What did you use to fabricate those, what material did you use and how did you mold them? I see that the covers are made from a material that matches the dash and does not have holes in it like the OEM covers. Thanks, Todd

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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/23/2017

    Orlando, you might want to check out this article about an installation we did in a Subaru Outback. In that case, a powered sub was a great space-saving bass solution.

  • Orlando Flores from Lawrenceville

    Posted on 10/22/2017

    Great looking installation and I bet it sounds even better. There is only one drawback, however. This vehicle has lost the use of the rear cargo area. I know the build was done keeping in mind three specific goals, but as an owner of a small SUV myself, I would have preferred to see an installation that would retain the use of the rear cargo area. I know you can't have your cake and eat it too, but I think there's always a compromise when it comes to building a custom car audio system and how it can coexist with the functionality of a car and the lifestyle of its owner.

  • Commenter image

    Matt Freeman from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/19/2017

    Lillie, I'm glad to hear that you'll be upgrading your Highlander soon! Our installers are great, and will do exactly what you want them to do. As for mixing stock and aftermarket speakers, we do recommend that any factory speakers you don't replace you unplug, so that you don't get any weird effects from mismatched speaker voicing. You want the sound to be nice and uniform, and it's likely that the new speakers will deliver a frequency range and clarity that your factory versions can't match. And as for your sound processor, just let your installers know that you're interested in using them with your new system. They'll be able to determine whether or not there are any compatibility issues.

  • Lillie Wynn from Richmond

    Posted on 10/16/2017

    Do you plan to replace all 12 of the speakers? If not, should the ones not replaced be disconnected? I imagine they would not mix very well with the Pioneer. Also, can my Alpine Sound Processor and Commander be installed with this? I just bought a 2017 Highlander and plan to have the system installed at your Charlottesville store. This will be the third install they've done and I am always very pleased with the results. Thanks for the info.

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    Matt Freeman from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/10/2017

    Hi, Kendell! So sorry for the delay! We actually just put the finishing touches on our holiday catalog, which stole most of my attention. To answer your question in general, though, the goal of the installation was to make it very close to what any customer would do (with some exceptions, of course).

    With that in mind, the wiring is actually quite straightforward. For the component speakers in front and the 2-ways in the rear, our installer ran new speaker wire from the door locations straight to the 4-channel amplifier. Meanwhile, the subwoofer wires go straight to each mono amplifier. For power, the wires from each amp run to a distribution block; from there one wire runs under the carpet, through the firewall, and to the battery in the engine compartment. Similarly, the ground wires go to a distribution block, and one wire goes from there to the chassis ground point in the back.

    We hope to post more photos and installation details fairly soon, so please check back with us in a couple of weeks. And thanks for reading!

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