Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
2017 Toyota Highlander OVERVIEW
The Toyota Highlander is a midsize, three-row crossover offering room for seven or eight. Introduced in 2001, the current-generation Highlander rolled out in 2014. The 2017 Highlander benefits from several important updates that keep it in the top tier of this highly competitive segment.
What's New for 2017
Numerous changes and upgrades mark the 2017 Toyota Highlander. For starters, a new SE grade rolls out, bringing with it a dark paint treatment for the grille, headlight housings, and roof rails. Special 19-inch machined-face alloy wheels with black finish, black leather-trimmed seats, and a sport-tuned suspension are also included.
The most significant change for 2017 is the introduction of an upgraded powertrain. The 3.5-liter V6 engine now makes more power. This engine comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, replacing the previous six-speed unit.
The Toyota Safety Sense P package is now standard, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.
Choosing Your Toyota Highlander
The Toyota Highlander offers three rows of seating and optional all-wheel drive. Five trims are available: LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, and Limited.
Standard equipment includes five USB ports, an integrated backup camera, space for eight, and 60-40 split-folding second- and third-row seats. All models are equipped with an active safety package and Entune Audio. Keyless entry, a rearview camera, and cruise control are included.
The lone available package, depending on trim, is a rear-seat Blu-Ray disc entertainment system ($1,810). Accessory items sold individually include all-weather floor liners, a cargo cover, a protection package, and a towing hitch receiver with a wiring harness.
The base model is the only one powered by a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Highlander LE is EPA-rated at 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway when equipped with the four-cylinder engine.
Available on the LE and standard elsewhere is a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. Now paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the front-drive versions offer the best efficiency in the line: 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Unless you live in snow country, front-wheel drive is sufficient. The updated powertrain and the standard driver assist package only enhance this model. We see the Highlander LE Plus trim as offering the best value, as it includes a long list of standard features and brings in navigation.
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