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2013 Toyota Highlander

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2013 Toyota Highlander Review

Reviewed by Automotive on

The 2013 Toyota Highlander is a modern, classy-looking sport utility vehicle (SUV). It has an aerodynamic overall look, which is odd for an SUV, but is certainly appealing. The excellent fuel economy is also unexpected – the Highlander is very efficient, especially for a vehicle of its size.

New For 2013

The Highlander’s new features for the 2013 model year are limited. New features include:

  • Highlander Plus trim
  • Availability of hybrid model


The fully-galvanized steel body of the Highlander comes in nine color choices. The grille trim is silver, which provides a nice contrast to the often darker body paint. A lip spoiler adds to the style, and the window-grid antenna does not take away from the overall appearance. The windows are all deep-tinted, perfect for those who want a little more privacy than light-tinted windows provide, or for those who are sensitive to UV rays. The aluminum wheels are stylish and the all-season tires are ready to take the vehicle wherever the driver wants to go.

Roof rails, which come on the Plus, SE, and Limited, can really come in handy when tying oversized items to the roof – such as large luggage or bulky cargo. For additional roof storage capability, a roof rack can be added to the Plus, SE, and Limited models. A nice bonus feature is the headlight washer that comes equipped on all Highlander models, which helps to keep the headlights bright and un-obscured, increasing visibility at night. The SE and Limited come standard with a sunroof, which increases driver and passenger comfort when the weather is nice.

Interior & Cargo

The 2013 Toyota Highlander comes with a lot of modern features, such as manual air-conditioning, complete with an air filter, under-seat ducts, and separate controls in the rear. This ensures that the air in the cabin is fresh and that passengers in the front and rear can receive as much or as little air as they like, with no fighting over the controls. The driver information center in the Plus, SE, and Limited keeps the driver informed about the fluid/fuel levels, tire pressure levels, and exterior temperature.

The Highlander does not skimp on the entertainment options. It comes with an AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 capability, Bluetooth compatibility, and auxiliary audio input. Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls come standard on the Plus, SE, and Limited, for added convenience. An entertainment system with a DVD player is available for all models, along with a second-row LCD screen. A first-row LCD screen is already equipped, along with a navigation system in the Limited.

The third-row seats fold into the floor, expanding the regular 10.3 cubic feet of storage into an impressive 95.4 cubic feet. The four-cylinder models can carry up to 1,755 pounds of cargo internally, or up to a 1,500-pound trailer, while the V-6 models can carry up to 1,734 pounds of cargo internally, or up to a 5,000-pound trailer.


The 2013 Toyota Highlander received four out of five stars for its overall rating from the NHTSA. In fact, it earned five stars in all crash test categories except rollover resistance and frontal-impact, which both received four-star ratings. The Highlander comes with dual front- and side-impact airbags, as well as side-curtain airbags in all rows and knee protection airbags for the driver. The airbags come with an occupant sensor to improve the safety of the passengers. Anti-lock brakes and driveline traction control help the driver to remain in control of the vehicle at all times. Parking assist comes as a standard feature for the Plus, SE, and Limited, which is a nice bonus for drivers interested in this car.

Two-stage door locks and rear child safety door locks keep passengers secure inside the vehicle while it is in motion. Remote keyless entry gives the driver the added convenience of unlocking or locking doors at a distance, while the panic alarm scares away any unexpected and unwanted guests.

Driving Experience

The Highlander comes in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive in all models except for the base model, which only comes in front-wheel drive. The 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine, which comes on the base models, is fairly powerful for an engine of its kind, producing 187 horsepower (hp) and 186 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and can get up to 20/25 mpg city/highway. The V-6 models come with a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine paired with a five-speed automatic transmission with auto-manual. This engine provides 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The V-6 engine gets up to 17/22 mpg city/highway.

The Toyota Highlander is equipped with a strut suspension in the front and rear, both supported by gas-pressurized shocks and coil springs. This combination provides excellent support for the SUV and provides for a smooth ride whether carrying passengers, cargo, or both.

Key Competitors For The 2013 Toyota Highlander

  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • Ford Explorer
  • Honda Pilot

See the New 2015 Highlander.

Front & Driver Side View