Written by Marco Carvajal
The Toyota Highlander is a pioneer in the midsize crossover segment that continues its success thanks to its power for all-terrain, great safety features and performance.
Test Driving the Highlander XLE
I am test driving the Toyota Highlander, comparing the 2018 and 2019 XLE versions. This crossover keeps most of its original classic look and features since it was launched back in 2001.
The Highlander XLE includes a powerful V6 engine, competent brakes and intuitive and precise steering, in addition to good handling and strong towing power on any type of road. The 2018 Toyota Highlander is one of the best choices available when buying a three-row crossover SUV. The Highlander’s V6 provided impressive acceleration in the older 2014, and the last V6 that was updated for 2017, improved acceleration even more. The new eight-speed automatic changes smoothly and is reasonably sensitive. It has intuitive feedback and reassuring feedback on curves and isolated stability in a straight line on the road. And the Highlander is very easy to park. Thanks to a comfortable and quiet ride, abundant standard features and a perfect size, it should serve you as a family vehicle to satisfy all your needs. The stability control system lets you know when you are asking too much. The new suspension with sporty fit provides a firmer ride, but only minor handling improvements. Its interior remains silent at high speeds, and the impacts of potholes are generally subtracted by a good suspension. When you’re behind the wheel, the Highlander feels bigger than some competitor, but maneuver is easy. If you want a third row with easier access there are many other options like the Ford Flex, the Mazda CX-9, the new Hyundai Santa Fe, the VW Atlas or perhaps the new Kia Telluride, but Toyota is Toyota and when you buy a Highlander you are not buying an SUV, you are getting all the backup and support of Toyota. Buyers love buying Toyota because long lasting quality, low price maintenance and repairs, low price parts and a solid powerful engine and powertrain.
The highlander is a great choice SUV for those who need a powerful 3-row SUV with a lot of safety standard features, off-road capability and a classic SUV design within a price range around $40K.
The Highlander was introduced to North America in 2001 in North America, at that time the Highlander became one of the first medium-sized crossover all-terrain vehicles. The Highlander is built on the same platform used in the Toyota Camry. It is the cross counterpart of the most rugged, medium-sized 4Runner, based on a truck, and became Toyota’s best-selling SUV before being overtaken by the smallest RAV4 in 2006. The Toyota Highlander, also known as Toyota Kluger in other markets like Japan and Australia. The name derived from the German word klug, which means intelligent or wise (being klüger) This three-row family SUV hasn’t changed much trough its different generations, it seems that Toyota Highlander loyal fans like the classic look and features. 2018 Toyota Highlander and the 2019 are not too different just some small changes, mostly on the exterior look. The 2019 Highlander is just a few inches longer than a midsize sedan yet offers three-row seating. A one-step second-row sliding seat function on both driver and passenger sides makes entering the third-row easy. Third-row passengers get a standard recline function. Still a three-row family SUV with seating for up to eight, the 2019 Highlander gas model remains available in a few trim levels, all available in either FWD or AWD. The hybrid model is also available now.
The Highlander is available as LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited and Limited Platinum, there is a trim level for every taste and to satisfy everyone’s needs. Price ranges approximately from $31,000 all the way to $45,000 depending on the model. The XLE I am driving has a base price of $40,165. In addition to all the LE Plus trim equipment and features, the XLE Highlander incorporates sunroof, roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, blind spot monitoring and cross traffic alert systems, an improved instrument panel, leather upholstery on the first and second rows.
Warranty and Toyota Care
One of the elements that car buyers consider when buying a car is confidence and trust in the brand. Toyota offers a very good warranty that helps buyers to continue trusting this solid brand. Toyota’s basic new-vehicle warranty covers 36-month/36,000 miles and applies to all components, except for normal wear and maintenance components. An additional extensive 60-month warranty cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles, and also covers the against corrosion with no mileage limitation. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered by a long eight years/100,000 miles warranty. All 2019 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid models come standard with a complimentary ToyotaCare plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The front-drive LE comes standard with a 185-horsepower, 184-pound, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5-liter V6 that is standard on all models is optional on the LE, bringing 295 horsepower, 263 lb-ft of torque and comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive can be added to the V6 as an option. The four-cylinder engine of the LE is qualified to tow up to 1,500 pounds. The LE or LE Plus with a V6 can tow up to 2,000 pounds. An XLE Highlander properly equipped or limited with the standard heavy-duty radiator, alternator and supplemental oil radiator. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds, very impressive! Consumption with the V6 engine is 19 MPG city / 26 MPG highway.
The Highlander is a large three-row SUV with seating for eight, but if you choose the optional second-row captain seats, then seating capacity gets reduced to seven. Driver Easy Speak amplifies and broadcasts the driver’s voice through the audio system’s rear speakers. The front seats are generally very comfortable. The two rear captain’s seats are quite nice and slide well forward, allowing easier access to the third row. The seats of three through the third make the Highlander a good substitute for a minivan. The dashboard has a contemporary look thanks in part to the multifunction display information found in the center, especially the XLE and larger color version of Limited. The standard set of Highlander safety technology is a good advantage, especially if you do not have the money for a maximum range model. Toyota touch screen interfaces are not the most striking or the most complete, but they are easy to use. The 8-inch version is remarkably quick to respond to inputs and features large, easy-to-press icons. The adjustable height electric rear door is very helpful low ceiling parking garages.
The Highlander includes standard traction and stability control, anti-lock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, a passenger airbag front seat cushion, long-lasting side curtain airbags, and rearview camera is also standard. There are many available packages to enhance security features, like the blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, and its driver technology package, which adds a collision warning and mitigation system with automatic front braking, the exit lane warning and the Toyota safety warning Conect, emergency assistance telematics, location of stolen vehicles and automatic collision notification. Included standard a frontal collision warning and automatic emergency braking, along with adapted speed control and lane departure intervention. The blind spot monitoring and the subsequent cross traffic alert are included in XLE on upper models. The Toyota Safety Sense package comes with Toyota’s automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane departure intervention and pre-collision system, which combines front-end collision with automatic emergency braking, a rear view camera.