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Expert's Rating

4.7Excellent | Details

MPG

20 City / 26 Highway
Contributing Editor -

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.

Toyota Highlander

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.

LE

The LE trim offers 18-inch machine alloy wheels, projector-beam halogen headlights, LED taillights, and mud guards. Variable wipers and a color-keyed spoiler are included. This model also has front and rear air conditioning, fabric-trimmed seats, 12 cup holders, and an overhead console. The standard audio package includes a six-speaker sound system, voice recognition, Bluetooth, and Siri Eyes Free.

LE Plus

The LE Plus is dressed in 18-inch machined alloy wheels and brings in fog lamps, a power liftgate with a flip-up window. This trim adds three-zone climate control, upgraded fabric seats, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Toyota also upgrades the audio system to include an eight-inch touchscreen, Scout GPS Link, HD radio, and satellite radio. Navigation is standard.

XLE

The XLE trim is outfitted with 18-inch turbine-look alloy wheels and brings in heated power side mirrors with integrated turn signals and blind spot warning notification. The XLE also brings in a sunroof and chrome roof rails. Inside, you’ll find keyless ignition, leather-trimmed first- and second-row seats, a 120-volt outlet, second-row retractable sunshades, and a driver microphone system.

SE

Choose the SE edition and the Highlander comes with 19-inch multi-spoke machined alloy wheels with a black finish. This model also features LED daytime running lights and special grille and roof rail treatments. Inside, you’ll find black leather-trimmed seats with silver stitching and blue ambient lighting.

Limited

All Highlander Limited editions are dressed in 19-inch chrome wheels. This model adds automatic headlamps and puddle lamps. Inside, the Highlander Limited brings in an integrated rearview camera with dynamic grid lines, perforated leather-trimmed first- and second-row seats, and a rear cargo cover. Choose the Platinum package and your SUV comes with a surround-view camera, a heated steering wheel, second-row captain’s chairs, and Toyota's Safety Connect telematics. A 12-speaker JBL audio system is standard.

CarsDirect Tip

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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