Test Drive Notes Library
- Like most Toyotas over the past few decades, we expect the Highlander to demonstrate excellent reliability.
- Good interior materials. Feels like a higher quality car inside than the previous Highlander.
- The Highlander has a comfortable ride, bordering on cushy. Driving down the pothole-ridden streets of Our Fair City, we found it extremely tuchus-friendly. Not as soft and pillowy as what we experienced in the Nissan Pathfinder, but the Highlander corners better than the Pathfinder.
- Every imaginable convenience, including separate rear temperature control, good storage for phones and media players, steering wheel mounted controls for everything, 148 speakers (ok, 12), heated and even cooled seats (our recommendation: Surprise your spouse with the cooling setting when he or she nods off on a long drive.)
- Back up camera that works well, with trajectory lines on the screen that show you where you’re headed, using sensors that read the steering wheel position.
- The Highlander has three rows of seats, with two bucket-seats with ample leg room in the middle row. Bench seating is available for the middle row, if you need to squeeze 8 people into your Highlander...assuming the three people in the third row are short and already have very stumpy legs.
- Toyota has squared off the rear of the Highlander, making for more useful interior space in the cargo compartment and modestly better headroom for any poor bastard stuck using the third row of seats.
- Strong new style overall. Less cute, and more acceptable to male buyers, we predict. But we found the squared off the rear end (while a plus for interior room) did make the back end a little unattractive.
- With the 3-liter engine, it’s not overpowered. The power is just about right.
Test Drive Notes Library
- It’s huge. We got used to it over time, but it’s hard to park anywhere in a city. And even suburban parking can pose challenges. The Highlander has grown a lot over the years—it’s not longer really an “in-between” size SUV.
- Lousy gas mileage. With the 6-cylinder engine, we got an average of 18 MPG. On the highway, we eked out a whopping 19! There’s a 4-cylinder option if you’re willing to drive a 2-wheel drive Highlander instead of AWD, but that barely improves the mileage at all and risks being underpowered (we have not tested it). The problem is the size and weight of the vehicle.
- That said, if you really must have something this big—if you really do need to carry seven people regularly--don’t beat yourself up too much over the mileage, because the Highlander’s mileage is comparable with other poor-mileage vehicles in this class.
Get the Car Talk Newsletter