The 2012 Toyota Highlander delivers family-friendly attributes of ample passenger space, plenty of utility, and smooth driving characteristics. With three rows, it can seat seven comfortably. And although the third row is a bit more cramped than those in the Highlander's biggest rivals, it is really easy to access thanks to a folding, reclining, and sliding 40/20/40-split second row of seats (the middle seat can be removed for a handy walk-through six-seat setup), which really counts in the Highlander's favor. So too do the two engine choices, which provide decent power mated with good EPA-estimated economy. The base 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine has 187 hp, and the optional 3.5-liter V6 ups the output to a stouter 270 hp. Both use automatic transmissions, a six-speed for the base engine and a five-speed for the V6. Front-wheel drive is standard, but if you want added traction, all-wheel drive is an option. There's also a hybrid option that delivers 280 hp from a combination of a 3.5-liter V6 and electric motors; it comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Trim levels are base, SE, and Limited, and the Highlander Hybrid is offered in base and Limited trims. The base model comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, air conditioning with rear controls, a six-speaker audio system, and three-row seating with those clever second-row seats. The SE builds on the base model's impressive standard equipment, gaining a sunroof, power tailgate with a separately opening glass hatch, heated front seats, a backup camera, and upgraded audio system with Bluetooth® connection and a USB port. The Limited ups the luxury with chrome outside, upgraded leather upholstery, tri-zone climate control, and a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat. On the road the Highlander is smooth, capable, and refined, which is about as much as you can ask for in a seven-seat crossover. The 2012 Highlander is a competitive family-friendly choice for a fuss-free large crossover.