The Toyota Highlander is the Camry of mid-size SUVs, meaning it does everything well enough and with a minimum of fuss. What do you need to know before you buy one? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.
When we say it’s like a Toyota Camry we mean because it literally runs on a modified version of Toyota’s K platform, which was developed for the Toyota Camry. You can think of this as the giant Camry wagon that Toyota doesn’t want to sell in this country (i.e., the Venza).
That doesn’t make it bad. For all the jokes we make about the Camry being appliance-like, it’s an appliance that works quite well for most people. The Highlander is also one of the most attractive vehicles that Toyota makes right now, which is only slightly sad.
Like the Camry, you can get the Highlander with your choice of a four-cylinder engine putting out 185 horsepower or a larger V6 that puts out 270 horsepower. There’s also an option for a V6 hybrid that boosts total output to 280 horsepower and raises the fuel economy from 19 or 20 in the city, to 27 MPG, and highway fuel economy from 25 MPG to 28 MPG.
Every time we drive a Highlander we think “Hey, this is nice, we could live with this.” If you don’t care about V8 power or towing anything or going offroad you should consider the Highlander. In fact, the Highlander is basically the official SUV of “I need a minivan but want an SUV for reasons that have nothing to do with what SUVs were made to do.”
The Highlander was new for 2014, and one of the big stories for the new CUV was the ability to accommodate up to eight passengers. This was possible due to the significantly longer, wider body than the outgoing model. The exterior and interior also got some new styling, and safety features like lane-departure warning and pre-collision warning became available.
Changes for the 2015 model year were minimal.
We’re going to go out on a limb here and assume if you’re buying a Highlander it’s because you have children. If you don’t have children or have to move more than 3.5 people on an average day you probably don’t need a Highlander. Therefore, if you’ve got the kids we’d get the Highlander XLE, which is available with AWD and the V6 (it’s a heavy vehicle, you want the V6). Spec the rear-seat BluRay DVD entertainment and the wireless headphones and all-weather cargo mats and you can take your kids to that away soccer game and never have to listen to them. Sure, that brings the total to $41,027 , but it’s maybe the only quiet and peaceful space you’ll have. [Build Your Own]
MSRP: $29,765 - $50,340 Max Advertised Towing Capability: 5,000 [V6]
MPG: 27 city/ 28 hwy / 28 combined [hybrid] Engines: 2.7L I4, 3.5L V6, 3.5L V6 hybrid
Curb Weight: ~4,130-4,860 pounds IIHS Rating: NA
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic, CVT Automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD/AWD
Photo credit: Toyota