If you can choose only one three-row crossover vehicle, it's easy to make a case that it should be the 2017 Toyota Highlander. It might not be quite as large as its biggest rivals, but it's a good size. The third-row seats, however, might be fine for children but aren't suited to regularly transport adults. That's about the only complaint we can level at the 2017 Highlander, because the rest of the offering from Toyota is so appealing. Key to its allure is the optional V6 engine, and for 2017 Toyota improved it with an increased 295-hp output and paired it with an eight-speed automatic transmission that helps with EPA-estimated fuel economy. The base four-cylinder 2.7-liter engine is capable, providing 184 hp, but that V6 is worth the extra cost. Both come with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive offered as an optional.
There's also a Hybrid model in the mix; it mates a V6 to electric motors and comes with a CVT automatic and all-wheel drive as standard. The Hybrid offers significant EPA-estimated gains, but typically costs more than standard models with equivalent mileage. Hybrid buyers also have to make do with seven seats and four trim choices—LE, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum—and a lower towing capacity. The lineup for the regular Highlander is LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. For 2017, the cabin adds four more USB ports. Among the trims, the XLE hits a smart balance of pricing to equipment. It comes with leather upholstery, an upgraded instrument panel, heated and power-adjustable front seats, keyless ignition and entry, and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert added to the standard driver aids. The XLE also uses that appealing V6. The 2017 Toyota Highlander is a family hauler that's difficult to find fault with, and if you need its space and capability, it's a real contender for top honors among rivals.