Toyota sweetens the deal this year with a two-year, 24,000-mile maintenance plan on its Highlander besting rivals in the process. For 22 years, the three-row alternative to the minivan has been transferring families and their cargo around the globe.
And the midsize SUV gets a more efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engine replacing a V-6 power plant that sauntered off the line. With 265 horsepower, the new engine has less ponies than the outgoing model but more torque that remedies the pokiness.
Large dual digital screens are now standard on upper trims and available with mid-range trims. Seating for up to eight can be accommodated with rear bench seats while four adults can ride in near luxury with oodles of space and 48 cubic feet of cargo. For hauling big box items, the Highlander offers 84 cubes with the second-row seats folded.
There are other SUVs that have come on the market challenging Highlander’s features in the mid-size segment including the Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade and Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
On our test track, the Highlander reached 60 miles per hour in a respectable 7.1 seconds, comparable with rivals. Those shopping this segment should compare Toyota’s reliability factor over decades, standard safety suite of driver assist features and a lengthy list of standard equipment.
Highlander is offered in six trim levels – L, LE, XLE, XSE, Limited and Platinum with power delivered to its front wheels. All-wheel drive is available. Prices range from the mid $30s to mid $50s.
Our Limited tester for the week stickered at $50,210 including $1,335 in fees and delivery charges.
Interior space provides generous room for first and second row passengers and there is additional storage in the center console bin as well across the lower dashboard for small items such as phones, laptops, power cords and munchies.
Also included is a 360-degree surround top view captured on the center screen, an 11-speaker JBL sound system with subwoofer and amplifier and a nifty digital rearview mirror that allows full vision out back while fully loaded.
The large touchscreen is divided into categories accessed by sliding and pinching like a smartphone. While the larger screen was useful, the navigation screen was not adjustable to full screen size.
All trim levels include Toyota’s suite of technology including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, front emergency braking and steering assists, road sign readings and automatic headlights. Upper trim levels add pedestrian detection, blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alert and star safety system.
Our Highlander achieved 24 miles per gallon in combined driving matching EPA estimates. For those wanting more, the hybrid Highlander will satisfy with 36 mpg in city and highway travel for similar coin.
We found the Highlander to be an ideal family car hauling the kids to soccer practice or taking a night on the town with friends. The engine mates with an eight-speed automatic transmission delivering smooth acceleration. Floor the pedal though and the Highlander gets loud.
Be sure to include the Highlander on your short list of test drives.
2023 Toyota Highlander Limited
Engine: 2.4-liter turbo, four cylinders – 265 horsepower
EPA rated mileage: 21 city, 28 highway, 24 combined
Assembled: All Toyota Highlander models are assembled at facilities in Princeton, IN and exported to world markets. U.S./Canadian parts content, 40 percent. Major source of foreign parts, Japan, 50 percent. Country of origin, engine and transmission – Japan.
Crash test ratings: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rated the Highlander with five stars, its highest rating, in overall and side crash protection and four stars in driver and passenger frontal collision protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the Highlander a Top Safety Pick with its top rating of “Good” in all test categories. IIHS also gave the Highlander a “Superior” rating for its standard vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to pedestrian front protection systems.
Warranty: 3 year/36,000-mile bumper to bumper; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain; 2-year/25,000-mile scheduled maintenance.
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