Toyota Highlander is among the easiest of motoring companions. Getting in and out of it couldn't be easier. Highlander offers lots of flexibility when it comes to carrying people and things. It totes four people comfortably, five less so. The rear seats can be folded down for cargo carrying. Highlander offers plenty of utility, with more total cargo space than a 4Runner.
On street and highway, Highlander performs decorously, pretending to be a car. Yet it can swallow impromptu flea-markets buys with ease, and tote them home despite sudden worsening of the weather. Highlander offers much of what made the Lexus RX 300 so popular without the high payments.
The four-wheel-drive V6 model offers impressive all-weather capability. The base model with front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine performs brilliantly around town and on the open highway, delivering responsive performance when merging into highway traffic.
Toyota Highlander looks smart and trim, falling somewhere between the edgy high style of the RAV4 and the intense purposefulness of the 4Runner. The Highlander is actually roomier than the outgoing Lexus RX 300. The family resemblance to the Lexus is evident, but the Highlander is dressed down, rather like wearing faded jeans and a favorite windbreaker instead of dry-clean-only lunch-with-the-ladies attire.
Entry, both for cargo and for people, is easier than in truck-based SUVs. With its more car-like step-in and lift-into, the Highlander is even friendly to wearers of tight skirts. Not so the usual truck-based SUV.
When it comes to ingress and egress (getting in and out), Toyota Highlander has no peers. Neither climbing up nor stepping down is required. Simply slide into one of the comfortable front seats. This makes Highlander one of the most convenient vehicles on the planet for running daily errands. This product will never annoy you.
Highlander comes with reclining front bucket seats in front, and a three-passenger 60/40 split fold-down reclining bench in the rear. The seats are supportive and comfortable and adjust to suit various-size drivers. Part of the appeal of SUVs is the ease of seeing out at every angle. And so it is here. The sloping hood of the Highlander makes the forward view even more encompassing.
Once seated, you'll find everything in its place. Power window buttons are right there on the doors. Ventilation ducts are right where you would expect to find them. Radio and heater controls use simple dials and amply sized buttons and operate intuitively. Instruments are readily visible through a panoramic space in the comfortable four-spoke steering wheel. The whole layout bespeaks thoughtful appraisal and wise choices. V6 models come with aluminum interior accents. Wood and chrome touches warm and brighten the Limited edition.
The shifter is uniquely positioned more as a part of the dash than on a central console. This opens up the space between the front seats. It also lends an open, unconfined air to the cockpit. The interior is outfitted with dome, door courtesy, glove box and cargo-area lighting. Map pockets, visor mirrors, and front and rear auxiliary power outlets are provided.
Toyota Highlander is easy to drive and operate. It feels instantly familiar with no fumbling for controls. The Highlander is quieter than truck-based SUVs both in engine and road noise. It rides smoothly on a variety of surfaces, true to the car side of its SUV heritage. The appeal of the Highlander continues to grow over time, gradually blossoming into a sense of general well-being and satisfaction.
The standard front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Highlander with traction control makes for a superb wagon for the city and suburbs. It's far easier to deal with on a daily basis than a truck-based sport-utility. Though you ride a little taller, you look eye to eye at Volvo wagon drivers. This is a quick, sprightly car with the four-cylinder engine, and it's smooth and quiet. It also gets better fuel economy (22/27 mpg city/highway vs. 18/22 for the 4WD V6). The steering is sedan-like with an appropriate feel. Braking is certain and smooth. Acceleration is nimble. We expected this in the V6 test car, but found the four-cylinder version to be a happy performer as well. We didn't feel like we were missing something by not having the V6.
Highlander feels at home around town, amidst traffic lights and parking seekers. It's a good size for city streets and soaks up potholes and irregular pavement well. Rolling into suburbia, the Highlander fits right in. It's a natural mall-crawler, maneuverable and quick to nose into a parking slot. Steering effort is very light at low speeds, so it's easy to turn in tight quarters. It cruises well on major highways, offering good stability and a smooth, quiet ride.
Highlander deals with mountain roads like an expert speller in the early stages of a championship bee. Snow melt, muddy ruts, icy patches on shadowed curves were easily handled by a 4WD V6 model. On a meandering backroad, the Highlander cut up hills through eight inches of newly fallen snow like a snowplow on a rescue mission.
Highlander is intended primarily as a highway and street vehicle with all-weather capability. It is not meant for boulder bashing and serious off-road driving. That said, we found the Highlander more capable in demanding situations than Toyota publicizes. After all, Toyota has the 4Runner for serious off-road duty.
Toyota Highlander is an excellent choice as a no-hassle wagon. It is a jack of all trades. Its ease of operation and convenience features make it eminently easy to live with. Highlander carries four people in comfort, hauls a lot of stuff, and will roll through any storm. Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability should mean trouble-free ownership and a strong resale value.
Toyota is determined to have the best-outfitted SUV stores on the planet, with an array of both truck and car-based models ranging from compact cute-utes to hulking Suburban fighters. Five different sport-utilities are now available from Toyota, and that's not counting the two from Lexus. Clearly, Toyota's goal is to meet every need, want, taste and whim of the SUV shopper. Highlander meets the needs of what most people want from a modern, on-road sport-utility.
Build and price your dream Toyota Highlander in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2013 Toyota Highlander$36,992 | 15,250 mi
2012 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER$28,978 | 11,709 mi
2012 Toyota Highlander$29,594 | 37,909 mi
2012 Toyota Highlander$29,888 | 18,516 mi
2012 Toyota Highlander$31,893 | 9,168 mi
2012 Toyota Highlander$31,988 | 41,519 mi
2011 Toyota Highlander$28,999 | 39,282 mi
2011 Toyota Highlander$30,994 | 54,408 mi
2011 Toyota Highlander$31,788 | 64,324 mi
2010 Toyota Highlander$23,275 | 73,382 mi
2010 Toyota Highlander$28,491 | 55,203 mi
2010 Toyota Highlander$28,791 | 56,375 mi
2009 Toyota Highlander$22,964 | 61,912 mi
2008 Toyota Highlander$16,977 | 95,858 mi
2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid$19,500 | 118,985 mi
2008 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER$22,998 | 81,385 mi
2008 Toyota Highlander$23,888 | 67,695 mi
2007 Toyota Highlander$14,528 | 100,711 mi
2007 Toyota Highlander$14,880 | 85,000 mi
2005 Toyota Highlander$11,995 | 130,061 mi
2005 Toyota Highlander$11,999 | 116,517 mi
2005 Toyota Highlander$14,500 | 79,544 mi
2005 Toyota Highlander$16,987 | 75,467 mi
2004 Toyota Highlander$6,988 | 243,776 mi
2004 Toyota Highlander$13,491 | 133,057 mi
2003 Toyota Highlander$9,900 | 171,096 mi
2002 Toyota Highlander$9,900 | 150,685 mi
2002 Toyota Highlander$10,999 | 104,789 mi