Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander filled a gap in the automotive world; buyers who wanted an SUV, but without the massive size were stuck in between decisions. The Highlander was one of the first midsize SUVs to appear on the market when it was introduced in 2001. After a refresh in 2008, the Highlander gained a second life. The 2012 version shows that the Toyota is still on the pulse of cutting-edge crossover mechanics.

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About the Toyota Highlander

The Highlander fulfills the desires of the consumer who is looking for a sport utility vehicle with the extra room for kids and soccer balls. Although it may look like an SUV, the Highlander is more comfortable on the freeway or on a suburban commute.

The Highlander is affordable, which makes it ideal for families on a budget. It is a comfortable vehicle with plenty of passenger space and rides smooth without the need for a lot of involvement from the driver for control. Control, it seems, is a priority in the mechanics of the vehicle. If you are a driver that likes the car to do the hard work for you, the Highlander is probably a good option.

Toyota Highlander Features

The 2012 Toyota Highlander is available in three trim models: the Highlander, the Highlander SE, and the Highlander Limited. All three options are available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.

The two-wheel drive models have two engine options. A 2.7-liter double overhead cam (DOHC), 16-valve, four-cylinder engine produces 187 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 187 lb-ft of torque. A second engine, the 3.5-liter (DOHC) V-6 produces 270 horsepower at 6200 rpm with 248 lb-ft of torque. The four-wheel drive Highlander has the 3.5-liter as the only option. The Highlander Limited, the top trim model of the line only offers the 3.5-liter V-6 as well.

The 2.7-liter has better fuel economy, with an EPA rating of 20/25 mpg city/highway, while the two-wheel drive V-6 will go 18/24 mpg city/highway, and the four-wheel drive will go 17/22 mpg city/highway.

The outside of the vehicle has several nice features. Projector beam headlamps have an auto on/off feature. Integrated fog lamps come standard on the Limited an SE versions and as a package option on the base Highlander model.

The lower grille has a chrome accent that will match the chrome handle available on the Limited model. Color keyed mirrors are available on all of the models, but heated mirrors appear only on the Limited edition.

Inside the vehicle is standard air-conditioning with three-zone climate control on the Limited edition. Sirius Radio and iPod connectivity are available on the SE and Limited versions standard and on the base model as part of a package option. Lower models have cloth seats while the SE and Limited edition have leather.

The Highlander base model starts at $28,090. The SE and the Limited start at $32,695 and $35,595 respectively.

Toyota Highlander Evolution

The Highlander is in its second generation. The first generation was introduced in 2001. It was available with a 155 horsepower four-cylinder engine on the base models or a 220-horsepower engine. Both engines were controlled by a standard four-speed automatic transmission.

The engines were upgraded in 2004 to accept a five-speed automatic transmission. The power of the engines was upgraded as well. A V-6 engine produced 230 horsepower, a big jump from the previous year.

Models came in three trim variations: the base, Sport, and Limited. Base models had a lot to offer at the time including air-conditioning, power accessories, and a CD player. The Sport model added extra performance options including a sport suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels, and fog lights. The top of the line Limited model had an extra special trim that included power front seats, heated mirrors, JBL sound system, and a folding third seat after 2004 for added storage space. A navigation system was also available on the Limited model.

2004 saw a few changes on the first generation. Third row seats were made available as well as an optional DVD player. Stability control and tire pressure gauges were also added.

The 2008 Highlander was the introduction of the second and current generation. The Highlander is bigger than when it was introduced in 2001. Cabin space is roomier for the tall driver, and more space is available for the passengers, although the third row seat seems suitable for children only. The 2012 version of the Highlander has changed little since 2008.

Select a Toyota Highlander Year

2018 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2017 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2016 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2015 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2014 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2013 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2013 Toyota Highlander is a modern, classy-looking sport utility vehicle (SUV).

2012 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

Toyota heavily refreshed in 2011, so the 2012 Toyota Highlander SUV carries over into the new model year unchanged.

2011 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

Toyota has not revealed much about the 2011, except to announce that it will receive a “significant minor change.” We are guessing that may include a slight redesign of the front end -- a more Venza- and Sienna-like grille, for example -- updates to the interior, and possibly making the six-speed automatic standard for the V-6, which could also improve fuel economy.

2010 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2009 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

2008 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2008 Toyota Highlander is a well-rounded sport utility vehicle that has great room for passengers and solid performance capabilities.

2007 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2007 Toyota Highlander is a midsize crossover SUV that offers a roomy interior, Toyota reliability, and impressive safety equipment and ratings.

2006 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2006 Toyota Highlander is a midsize crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) that first appeared in 2001.

2005 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

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.

2004 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

Introduced in January of 2001, the Toyota Highlander is a crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) that has quickly won over consumers to become the most popular of Toyota’s five SUVs.

2003 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2003 Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV or crossover SUV in production since 2000 and still part of the Toyota lineup.

2002 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2002 Toyota Highlander blends a station wagon, a minivan, and a sport utility vehicle and could just about fool you into thinking you were driving a car.

2001 Toyota Highlander

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2001 Toyota Highlander helps solidify Toyota as one of the world's most prominent car manufacturers.