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Toyota Highlander FAQs

Toyota Highlander FAQs: Hero | CarMax

Explore more about this midsize SUV.

When you need a vehicle that comes standard with three-row seating, your options aren't only limited to full-size SUVs and minivans. The Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV that offers seating for up to eight passengers across three rows. Meanwhile, it's available in six trim configurations and is powered by a capable V6 engine.

If you have questions about the Highlander, CarMax has answers. Explore our FAQ below to learn more about this popular three-row SUV.

Toyota Highlander FAQs

Q: How does a Toyota Highlander compare to a Honda CR-V?

A: Both the Toyota Highlander and Honda CR-V are crossover SUVs. The biggest difference is in size. The 2021 Highlander is a midsize SUV with three rows (accommodating up to eight passengers), whereas the 2021 CR-V maxes out at five passengers across two rows.

Q: What are the different models of Toyota Highlander?

A: The 2021 Toyota Highlander is available in six trim configurations: the base L, LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and range-topping Platinum. Every trim comes standard with three-row seating and are equipped with a 3.5L V6 engine at 295 horsepower under the hood.

Q: Is the Toyota Highlander a reliable car?

A: According to RepairPal® reliability ratings, the Toyota Highlander receives an "excellent" rating of four out of five.1 With this in mind, it is considered to be fairly reliable. The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features.

Q: How much bigger is the Highlander than the RAV4?

A: The 2021 Toyota Highlander measures 194.9 inches in length, making it a full 14 inches longer than the 2021 RAV4. The 2021 Highlander is also three inches wider (76 inches total) than the 2021 RAV4, which measures 73 inches in width (not accounting for mirrors).

Q: Can you take a Highlander off-road?

A: In general, the Highlander is capable of being taken off-road. However, the 2021 model year does not come standard with all-wheel drive. Models that were equipped with available all-wheel drive when this vehicle was sold as new will have greater off-roading capabilities.

When the 2021 Highlander was sold as new, every trim was available with all-wheel drive as an optional add-on.

Q: How much should I pay for a Toyota Highlander?

A: Pricing on any used vehicle will depend on many factors, including the model year, mileage, and overall condition. However, according to CarMax sales data, the average price for a 2021 Toyota Highlander is $39,712.2 Meanwhile, earlier model years such as the 2013 sell for an average of $20,588.2

Q: Which one is more reliable: the 4Runner or the Highlander?

A: According to RepairPal reliability ratings, both the Toyota 4Runner and the Highlander receive 4/5 reliability scores. This classifies them both as "excellent" for their class.1 The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features.

Q: Which Toyota Highlander should I buy?

A: The Toyota Highlander that's right for you will depend on what you're looking for in a midsize SUV. If seating capacity is your priority, then the base L trim with its second-row bench seat maxes out space for up to eight passengers. Other standard equipment includes smartphone integration and an available Wi-Fi hotspot.3

If you prioritize comfort over capacity, a midrange trim like the XLE swaps out the second-row bench seat for cozy captain's chairs (reducing seating capacity to seven). Other upgrades for this trim include a sunroof, heated front-row seats, and simulated leather upholstery.

Want to ride in luxury and comfort? The top-of-the-line Platinum trim yields numerous upgrades, with standard features including heated front- and second-row seats, a surround-view camera system, a large 12.3-inch touchscreen display, and a panoramic sunroof.

Q: Is the Highlander AWD or 4x4?

A: The 2021 Highlander comes standard with front-wheel drive. However, when sold as new, every trim was available with an optional all-wheel-drive system that delivers added traction and control in poor road conditions. Four-wheel drive is not available on this model.

Q: Is a 4Runner bigger than a Highlander?

A: Overall, the 2021 Highlander is larger than the 2021 4Runner, measuring 4.7 inches longer and 2/10" wider. The 2021 Highlander also offers a higher seating capacity with its three standard rows of seating versus the 4Runner's two rows.

On the other hand, because less cabin space is taken up with seats on the 2021 4Runner, it offers more cargo space at 47.2 cubic feet with all seats in place. For comparison, the 2021 Highlander maxes out at 16 cubic feet with all seats intact.

Q: Does the Toyota Highlander hold its value?

A: While all cars will depreciate over time, the Toyota Highlander is known for retaining its value quite well. According to an Indiana Toyota dealership article, for example, the 2019 Highlander retains its value better than any other vehicle in its class.

Q: What cars are similar to the Toyota Highlander?

A: There are many vehicles similar to the Toyota Highlander in the midsize SUV category. Some examples of the Highlander's competition that also offer three-row seating include the Chevrolet Traverse, the Ford Explorer, the Honda Pilot, and the Nissan Pathfinder.

Q: Are Toyota Highlanders good in snow?

A: Toyota Highlander models that are equipped with all-wheel drive offer excellent handling and control in the snow and other adverse weather/road conditions. All-wheel drive is not standard on the 2021 Highlander, but it was an available option on every trim when it was sold as new.

Q: Can you turn off AWD on a Toyota Highlander?

A: On 2021 Highlander models equipped with all-wheel drive, there is an "AWD lock mode" available that allows maximum torque to be distributed to the rear wheels instead of across all four wheels. This can come in handy, for example, if the vehicle gets stuck in mud or snow.

Q: Why is the Highlander so expensive?

A: The Highlander is priced similarly to other vehicles in its class. However, some Highlanders in upper trim configurations do have a higher price tag due to the more expensive equipment that is included, such as the surround-view camera system and driver heads-up display found on the Platinum trim.

Q: Is the Toyota Highlander quiet?

A: The Highlander offers a quiet ride, even when there are particularly windy weather and adverse road conditions. This is made possible due to a combination of the vehicle's aerodynamic design and sound-damping and soundproofing materials found on the SUV's interior.

Q: Does the Highlander have diff lock?

A: Yes, all 2021 Highlander models equipped with all-wheel drive also come with a locking differential. This is also known as locking all-wheel drive, which allows the center differential of the vehicle to be locked in place when the feature is engaged.

Shop Used Toyota Highlander Models at CarMax

With space for your whole crew plus plenty of standard equipment to offer, the 2021 Toyota Highlander could be a great choice for your next vehicle. Ready to shop used Toyota Highlander models near you? Explore our current inventory at CarMax today.

1RepairPal Reliability Ratings are based on the actual cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance on make/model data for select 2006-2020 vehicles. RepairPal Reliability Ratings are provided by RepairPal and CarMax is not responsible for their accuracy. These ratings are based on RepairPal Reliability data as of 12/01/2021. Learn more at
2Average estimates are based on prices on from January 1, 2020, through June 6, 2021. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, tags, titles, and any applicable fees.
3Wi-Fi hotspots require a data plan to activate and may also require a compatible device. See the owner’s manual or manufacturer website for more information.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.

* Price excludes taxes, title, registration, and fees. Applicable transfer fees are due in advance of vehicle delivery and are separate from sales transactions.

Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.