2016 Toyota Highlander Overview

John Diether
Automotive Editor - December 2, 2015

While the Highlander might look rugged for a family vehicle, it's a big softie inside with room for up to eight passengers and enough available comforts to pamper all of them. Add to that its pleasant on-road demeanor, and you can see why this midsize crossover has become such a popular alternative to larger minivans and SUVs.

What's New for 2016

A 5,000-pound towing package is now standard on all V6 models.

Toyota Highlander

Choosing Your Toyota Highlander

The Highlander starts out with front-wheel drive and a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine good for 185 horsepower. The available 3.5-liter V6, which powers most models, puts out 270 horsepower and can paired with all-wheel drive. Both engines use a six-speed automatic transmission.

There's a full-width third row, which means you can carry up to eight passengers, or seven with the optional second-row captain's chairs. With both rows folded, you have up to 84 cubic feet of cargo space at your disposal.

As before, the Pathfinder is offered in five trim levels:


Gets the four-cylinder engine (V6 optional), plus a rearview camera, privacy glass, heated mirrors, automatic headlamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The six-speaker sound system features voice controls and Bluetooth phone and audio.

LE Plus

Adds a plethora of welcome touches, including a power driver seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, upgraded cloth upholstery, a flip-up liftgate window, and satellite and HD radio.


Comes with the V6 engine, leather seating, a sunroof, roof rails, keyless access and ignition, rear sunshades, and a navigation system with integrated smartphone apps. Second-row captain's chairs and a rear entertainment system are standalone options.


Receives interior upgrades like heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory, a power passenger seat, standard captain's chairs, ambient LED lighting, and a 12-speaker JBL sound system. You also get blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. On the outside are LED running lights and 19-inch wheels. The available Driver Technology package offers high-tech safety features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and front collision mitigation with automatic braking. The entertainment system continues as an option.


Comes with everything available on the Limited, plus a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, and a heated second row.

CarsDirect Tip

The mid-level XLE comes fully equipped for family life and then some. It's the smart choice so long as you can live without the available driver assistance technology. The base LE is perfectly fine if you're on a strict budget, but we would avoid the four-cylinder, which simply doesn't cut it in a vehicle of this size.

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