2016 Toyota Highlander review

Research, photos, specs, and expertise

Toyota Highlander highlights

Customer rating


  • Tough SUV exterior
  • Refined and compliant ride
  • Seating for up to eight


  • Base four-cylinder engine lacks power
  • Third-row seating is better for kids
  • Limited cargo room with all seats up

Mileage (EPA estimate)

18 city, 24 highway, 20 combined

Pricing for current inventory

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An SUV to fit all life's adventures

Want to maximize space in your vehicle? Maybe you have three kids in car seats and need an SUV that allows them to ride in comfort. Or perhaps you want a car that can fit your crew for a weekend adventure—and tow the camper to boot. No matter why you need space, the Toyota Highlander stands out. It's one of the few midsize SUVs that can seat up to eight people, and it also boasts great cargo and towing capacity.

All Toyota Highlander years

What is new for the 2016 Toyota Highlander?

  • The LE Plus trim now comes with Navigation System and Bluetooth Technology as standard equipment.
  • The XLE trim now comes with Bluetooth Technology as standard equipment.

2016 Toyota Highlander trims

Curious how Toyota Highlander trims differ? Use our side-by-side vehicle comparison to see the differences and similarities


LE Plus



5 reasons to buy the 2016 Toyota Highlander

1. Fits the whole family

2016 Toyota Highlander: Reviews, Photos, and More: Reasons to Buy #1 | CarMax

Why take two cars when you can take one? The 2016 Toyota Highlander makes traveling with your family or friends simple. Sliding seats give easy access to the third row, so you don't have to leave anyone behind. If you're traveling with little kids, you'll love that the Highlander has three full LATCH connections in the second row and can fit three car seats side by side.

2. Upgraded towing capacity

2016 Toyota Highlander: Reviews, Photos, and More: Reasons to Buy #2 | CarMax

If you're into camping or boats, you'll enjoy the 2016 Toyota Highlander's towing capacity. The base model with a 2.7L four-cylinder engine can tow an estimated 1,500 lbs when properly equipped.

When you upgrade to the Highlander's 3.5L V6—an option at the base level and standard on all other trims—towing capacity leaps up to an estimated 5,000 lbs when properly equipped.
As of the 2016 model year, the tow package comes standard with any V6 Toyota Highlander.

3. Customizable liftgate

2016 Toyota Highlander: Reviews, Photos, and More: Reasons to Buy #3 | CarMax

The 2016 Toyota Highlander is designed to make it easy to get whatever you need out of the back. In every trim except the base model, the 2016 Toyota Highlander offers an adjustable-height liftgate and a flip-up rear window. If you park in a garage, you can program the liftgate to only reach a certain height to prevent bumps and scrapes. Plus, when you've packed your Highlander to the brim, you'll appreciate being able to reach in the rear window for essentials, rather than opening the entire back.

4. Off-road capabilities

2016 Toyota Highlander: Reviews, Photos, and More: Reasons to Buy #4 | CarMax

The 2016 Toyota Highlander comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available on every trim. With all-wheel drive, the Toyota Highlander becomes a capable off-roader. All trims have eight inches of ground clearance and come standard with features like downhill assist control. If you want to get off the beaten path, the 2016 Highlander can take you there.

5. Tech connectivity

2016 Toyota Highlander: Reviews, Photos, and More: Reasons to Buy #5 | CarMax

Stay connected with the 2016 Toyota Highlander, which comes standard with Bluetooth®, Siri® Eyes Free, and iPod®7 capability. It also has two USB ports to keep your phones connected and charged. The base trim comes with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, while all other trims have an eight-inch touchscreen.

Similar vehicles

If you're interested in the 2016 Toyota Highlander, you should also check out these similar vehicles from Previous generation years.

Image of Nissan Pathfinder

The 2017-2020 Nissan Pathfinder is a midsize SUV that comes standard with seating for seven, with a second-row bench and two seats in the third row. The 2017-2020 Pathfinder comes standard with a 284-hp 3.5L V6 engine. With that engine, the 2017 Pathfinder can tow an estimated 6,000 lbs when properly equipped, so it's a great SUV if you regularly tow campers or boats.

With 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, the 2017 Pathfinder offers plenty of storage.

Here's what you'll find on the 2017-2020 Nissan Pathfinder:

  • Eight-inch touchscreen

  • Push-button start

  • Available panoramic moonroof

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Ratings & reliability

Customer ratings

The 2016 Toyota Highlander is a car that is perfect for families or those who haul lots of gear. Customers love the cargo capacity, convenience storage up front, and excellent media display.

RepairPal gave the Toyota Highlander an overall reliability rating of 4 out of 5 stars, which RepairPal describes as Excellent. This rating ranks Toyota Highlander 6th out of 32 among Midsize SUVs.

View RepairPal's full rating of the Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander features and specs

XLE 2WD 4D Sport Utility

Standard Features

  • ABS Brakes
  • Air Conditioning
  • Alloy Wheels
  • AM/FM Stereo
  • Automatic Transmission
  • Auxiliary Audio Input
  • Bluetooth Technology
  • CD Audio
  • Cruise Control
  • Entune
  • Fold-Away Third Row
  • Front Seat Heaters
  • Leather Seats
  • Navigation System
  • Overhead Airbags
  • Power Hatch/Deck Lid
  • Power Locks
  • Power Mirrors
  • Power Seat(s)
  • Power Windows
  • Rear Air Conditioning
  • Rear Defroster
  • Rear Sunshade
  • Rear View Camera
  • Satellite Radio Ready
  • Side Airbags
  • Smart Key
  • Sunroof(s)
  • Third Row Seat
  • Traction Control
  • Bluetooth Technology
  • Full Roof Rack
  • Quad Seats
  • Rear Entertainment System
  • Remote Start
  • Running Boards
  • Tow Hitch

Drive Wheels

Front Wheel Drive (2WD)

Engine size




Torque (ft-lbs)


Engine type


Fuel capacity




Overall length






Leg room

F 44.2"/M 38.4"/R 27.7"

Head room

F 39.5"/M 39.6"/R 35.9"

Front tires


Rear tires


Seating capacity


Max towing capacity

500/5000 lbs.



2016 Toyota Highlander FAQ

More about the 2016 Toyota Highlander

2016 Toyota Highlander: Reviews, Photos, and More: Color Options | CarMax

Exterior colors:

  • Alumina Jade Metallic

  • Blizzard Pearl

  • Crème Brulee Mica

  • Midnight Black Metallic

  • Nautical Blue Metallic

  • Ooh La La Rouge Mica

  • Predawn Gray Mica

  • Shoreline Blue Pearl

  • Silver Sky Metallic

Interior colors:

  • Almond

  • Ash

  • Black

Interior details

The Toyota Highlander is a supremely comfortable midsize SUV. The 2016 model comes standard with cloth seats and second- and third-row benches. Second-row captain's chairs are available on the XLE trim and standard on the Limited trim. The 2016 Highlander comes standard with a soft-touch upper door trim, with more soft-touch finishes available at higher trim levels. A power moonroof becomes standard at the XLE trim.

Child seat details

The 2016 Toyota Highlander is a great vehicle for families with many car seats. This SUV has three complete sets of LATCH anchors on the second-row bench. Three car seats can fit side by side, which is a rare perk. The third row of the Highlander has no LATCH connections and only one rear car seat tether, which is located behind the middle seat.

Manufacturer warranty

When new, the 2016 Toyota Highlander included 3-year/36,000-mile (whichever occurs first) basic coverage and 5-year/60,000-mile (whichever occurs first) powertrain coverage. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. See Warranty Information Booklet for complete details. The balance of this warranty may apply on some vehicles.


The 2016 Toyota Highlander comes standard with a 2.7L four-cylinder engine on the base trim, and a 3.5L V6 engine on all other models. With the V6 engine and all-wheel drive, the 2016 Toyota Highlander can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and reach top speeds of 114 mph (according to the manufacturer, when new). All 2016 Highlanders come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission that has sequential shift mode and snow mode. All 2016 V6 Highlanders come with a transmission cooling system to support towing capacity.


  • According to EPA estimates, the FWD four-cylinder 2016 Toyota Highlander's tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions are 398 grams per mile.

  • According to EPA estimates, the FWD V6 2016 Toyota Highlander's tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions are 425 grams per mile.

  • According to EPA estimates, the AWD V6 2016 Toyota Highlander's tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions are 437 grams per mile.

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