The 2005 Toyota Highlander continues a model that debuted in 2001 as a structural offspring to the more lavish and expensive Lexus RX330 and Toyota’s Camry sedan. The Highlander pioneers the automotive industry in many ways, since it goes down in history as the first midsize crossover sport utility vehicle sold in the U.S.
The Highlander has become the most popular of Toyota’s midsize sport utility vehicles because it quite simply offers many more advantages than traditional sport utility vehicles. The Highlander essentially serves as a crossover counterpart to the more truck-like and rugged midsize 4Runner that rides with the crisp, precise smoothness of a regular car.
The Highlander aims for more on-road comfort. It handles more efficiently on the road, performs better in crash tests, runs quieter with less cabin noise, and provides passengers with much easier entry and exit. It seems more versatile in the sense that it offers SUV flexibility with a similar ride and handling to a car.
The Highlander offers fuel efficiency and safety. It seems ideal for buyers who like sport utility vehicle features without the excess bulk and without having to spend a small fortune to fill up the gas tank.
This car comes standard with front drive and can also be equipped with all-wheel drive. It offers either a four-cylinder or a V-6 engine.
Body Styles: midsize sport utility vehicle
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 3.3-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed automatic
Models: Toyota Highlander, Toyota Highlander V-6, Toyota Highlander Limited
New standard features in 2005 include a cargo cover, remote keyless entry, and a roof rack. A windshield wiper de-icing grid comes standard on the Limited and optionally on the base model.
Despite a more squared-off appearance and styling differences between the Highlander and Lexus RX330, the two vehicles share a very similar design. The Highlander measures 184.6 inches in length and rides a wheelbase of 106.9 inches.
The Highlander also has very prominent fender creases, further distinguishing it from the RX330. The Highlander has a rear liftgate and measurements of 68 inches tall and 71.9 inches wide.
This vehicle accommodates five people with its two front bucket seats and a 60/40-split folding back seat that fits three people. Toyota offers a third-row seat to boost total occupancy to seven passengers if needed. The third seat uses a four-step reclining feature, and this seat option also includes a rear heating system and privacy glass.
The 2005 Highlander offers 37.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row of seats, and this space grows to 80.7 cubic feet with the seat folded down.
Leather upholstery, a sunroof, heated seats, and a rear DVD system provide options for each Highlander model. A navigation system remains exclusive to the Highlander Limited model.
Performance & Handling
This vehicle’s four-cylinder engine teams up with a four-speed automatic transmission and generates 160 hp, while the 3.3-liter V-6 produces 230 hp using a five-speed automatic transmission. This SUV rides smoothly with minimal body roll on tight curves. The vehicle accelerates from a standstill very nicely but may give an awkward jerk or make some noise with a deeper push of the pedal at a midrange speed.
Toyota’s Star Safety System includes vehicle stability control, controlled traction, and an anti-lock four-wheel braking system with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. This comes standard on all models, along with a tire pressure monitor and an anti-skid system.
Optional safety features include seat-mounted, head-protecting, side-impact airbags for the first and second rows, along with standard front torso airbags. Side curtain-type airbags designed to deploy in the event of a rollover or side collision remain optional. The Highlander earns five-star ratings for driver and front-passenger head-on and side collision protection. It enjoys a reputation as one of the safer sport utility vehicles on the market.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Highlander: 19/25 mpg city/highway
Toyota Highlander V-6: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Toyota Highlander Limited: 17/23 mpg city/highway
- Seating for five to seven people
- Car-like ride and handling
- Smooth V-6 engine
- Fuel efficiency
You Won't Like
- Limited offroad ability
- Limited towing
- Bland look and personality
Versatility and practicality of an SUV with a smooth car-like ride, capable on-road handling, and the right steering feel and balance.
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