An excellent SUV for long trips and heavy hauling.

Are you looking for a vehicle that lets you ride in style and comfort? You’ll find what you’re looking for in the Toyota Highlander. The Highlander is a fan favorite and a great choice for the family road trip and daily urban commute. Available in many different trim levels and options, this vehicle has plenty of style and utility on the road. Learn more about this vehicle’s third-generation models in this Toyota Highlander review.

Key Specs & Features

Toyota Highlander: Engine | CarMax
  • The 2017 and 2018 Toyota Highlander offer the option of a Stop and Start engine system which automatically shuts off your engine when you come to a stop.
  • The third generation Highlander comes with an option for a 3.5L V6 direct-injection engine and Direct Shift-8AT (eight-speed automatic transmission) for improved acceleration and help to maintain maximum mpg when in cruising mode.
  • The third generation highlander comes in four-cylinder and six-cylinder versions.
  • The 2016 Toyota Highlander with all-wheel drive, a 3.5L six-cylinder engine and automatic transmission gets an estimated 20 mpg combined.2
  • Standard three-zone automatic climate controls (all third-generation models).


Reasons to Buy

1. Roomy Interior.

Despite falling into the crossover SUV category, the Toyota Highlander offers seating for up to eight people in some of its trim levels.

Toyota Highlander: Front Seats | CarMax

The 2014 Toyota Highlander, for example, sees standard eight-person seating on the LE, LE Plus, and XLE trim levels. This makes the Highlander a great option for growing families and those with greater seating needs. 

Toyota Highlander: Backseats | CarMax

Meanwhile, the second and third rows can easily fold flat to provide additional cargo space when needed.

Toyota Highlander: Trunk Cargo | CarMax

2. Cool Tech Features.

Across all model years of the third-generation Toyota Highlander, you'll find plenty of generous standard features even on base trims. The Toyota Highlander offers standard features such as smartphone integration, forward collision detection with emergency braking, and a rearview camera.

Toyota Highlander: Tech Dash | CarMax

Even the 2015 model year trims come with standard features like Bluetooth® connectivity, and a touchscreen display with USB interface and AUX jack.

3. Powerful Redesign.

For the 2014 model year release, a significant redesign was unveiled, featuring optional upgrades such as new headlights and a power liftgate. V6 trims also saw a new six-speed automatic transmission for this model year.

4. Driver Assistance.

The 2017 model of the Highlander boasts a standard backup camera to help boost your confidence when parking in urban spaces. Some trims of the 2017 and 2018 Toyota Highlanders take things up another level by giving you a 360-degree birds-eye view around your vehicle!

5. Towing Capacity.

The XLE and Limited versions of the 2017 model can tow up to an estimated 5000 pounds when properly equipped, a handy feature when you want to take your boat out for fishing during the weekend.1


What You Need to Know

Toyota Highlander Trims

2013 Trims:

  • Base - 17-inch wheels, eight-way driver's seat, rear privacy glass, Bluetooth® connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system.
  • Plus - standard foglights, rearview camera, easy fold-flat second-row seats, roof rails, and windshield wiper de-icer.
  • SE - sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and power liftgate.
  • Limited - larger 19-inch wheels, keyless entry/ignition, leather upholstery, tri-zone climate control, navigation system, and upgraded JBL® sound system.

2014-2016 Trims:

  • LE - 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, rearview camera, rear spoiler, touchscreen display, and Bluetooth connectivity.
  • E Plus - lift-up rear window, synthetic leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite/HD radio, and tri-zone climate control.
  • XLE - sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, heated front seats, 110-volt second-row power outlet, voice amplification, 8-inch touchscreen, and smartphone integration.
  • Limited - larger 19-inch wheels, second-row captain's chairs, heated/ventilated front seats, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring system, and premium 12-speaker sound system.
  • Limited Platinum - panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

2017-2019 Trims:

  • LE - 18-inch wheels, rear privacy glass, rearview camera, forward collision detection and emergency braking, 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth connectivity, and heated mirrors.
  • LE Plus - power liftgate, tri-zone climate control, larger 8-inch touchscreen, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and upgraded upholstery.
  • XLE - keyless entry/ignition, sunroof, roof rails, heated front seats, 110-volt power outlet, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert system, and navigation.
  • SE - larger 19-inch wheels, sporty interior styling, upgraded suspension, and LED running lights.
  • Limited - rear cargo cover, upgraded 12-speaker sound system, heated and ventilated front seats.
  • Limited Platinum - panoramic sunroof, 360-degree parking camera, heated second-row seats, and heated steering wheel.

Toyota Highlander Available Colors

The 2017-2019 Toyota Highlander comes in nine color options:

  • Alumina Jade Metallic
  • Blizzard Pearl
  • Celestial Silver Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Oh La La Rough Mica
  • Predawn Gray Mica
  • Salsa Red Pearl
  • Shoreline Blue Pearl
  • Toasted Walnut Pearl

Toyota Highlander Average CarMax Prices.3

  • 2013-2016: Average price less than $25,000.
  • 2017-2018: Average price less than $35,000.

Years in Review

2013 Toyota Highlander

The 2013 Toyota Highlander comes equipped with a standard 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine. Buyers looking for more power can look for versions with a 3.5L six-cylinder engine. Standard exterior features include projector-beam headlamps that automatically turn on and off, 17-inch machine-finished alloy wheels and an in-glass antenna.

2014 Toyota Highlander

The 2014 Highlander allows drivers and passengers the option of enjoying heated seats and ventilation for air conditioning that can make a difference during the summer months! There’s a roll-top center console that puts large purses, bags, cameras, and any other essential items within easy reach. The 2014 Toyota Highlander also features a redesigned rear suspension for more cargo space.

2015 Toyota Highlander

Opening the trunk is a breeze thanks to the push-button liftgate that lets you adjust how high it extends out. You can also flip up the glass (on select trims) to quickly grab something out of the back. Toyota also improved the distribution of power throughout the SUV for better performance by making Dynamic Torque-Control AWD available, meaning you could take on more trails on a wilderness journey!

2016 Toyota Highlander

2016 marked the introduction of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid model. That year also saw the inclusion of a standardized tow package (designed for the SUV to pull up to an estimated 5,000 pounds of weight when properly equipped).1

2017 Toyota Highlander

The 2017 Toyota Highlander features a redesign of the trapezoidal grille that extends it down to the bottom of the bumper. There were also some cosmetic tweaks to the appearance of the taillights to feature standardized LED-lighting.

2018 Toyota Highlander

The 2018 Toyota Highlander maintained all the upgrades from the 2017 redesign. You can find options containing everything from puddle lights that make your SUV stand out to automatic high beams that help you out on dark back roads.

The Bottom Line.

The Toyota Highlander is an excellent SUV for families who like to go on long trips and may need something with a little more pep and adventure. You can choose from a variety of exterior color options and find interior trims in both cloth and leather. The Toyota Highlander gives you and your passengers the space and features you need to travel in comfort!

1Various factors may impact towing capacity, including weight of passengers, cargo, and options/accessories.
2Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates when vehicles sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
3Based on CarMax average prices between August 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019. Actual prices may vary based on your selected model year, features and trim packages. Prices do not include tax, title, tags, and any applicable fees.
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