By on April 16, 2018

2017 Toyota Highlander front quarter

2017 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum

3.5-liter V6, DOHC (295 hp @ 6600 rpm, 263 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

20 city / 26 highway / 22 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

21.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

12.1 city, 9.0 highway, 10.6 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $47,200 (U.S) / $50,945 (Canada)

As Tested: $47,634 (U.S.) / $50,945 (Canada)

Prices include $940 destination charge in the United States and $1,915 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

It’s as if John Hughes and George Barris envisioned the coming swarm of SUVs and crossovers in the early Eighties. Why else would they name the metal-and-DiNoc star of National Lampoon’s Vacation a “Truckster,” when quite clearly the Country Squire-based behemoth in no way resembled a truck? Fast forward thirty-five years, and the default family-unit transport device is indeed something that is truck-like.  Just from the top three brands, nearly three-quarters of a million three-row crossovers rolled off dealer lots last year alone. Beneath those butch facades lies a plush, roomy station wagon on stilts.

No stranger to high-volume family cars, Toyota has consistently placed near the top of the sales charts in the three-row crossover segment. The 2017 Toyota Highlander Limited is an incredibly popular choice for those who need plenty of space for cargo, human or otherwise, and for those who have embraced the crossover lifestyle.

Try as I might, I’ve not been able to use Toyota’s online configurator to option the Highlander with faux wood paneling.

2017 Toyota Highlander profile

Those sales figures are no joke – over 215,000 Highlanders found their way into American garages last year alone, behind only the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee in the midsize SUV market according to GoodCarBadCar.net. The Highlander follows the familiar formula – take a hugely popular family sedan (the Camry) and make it massive.

2017 Toyota Highlander rear

The heft of the Highlander isn’t unflattering. If you squint a bit, there is a slight family resemblance to the 4Runner, the traditional body-on-frame stablemate – though the deep front fascia betrays the Highlander’s road-focused mission. There isn’t much that can be done to dress up the traditional two-box style of a crossover, though the Highlander is reasonably handsome save the massive grille that resembles a six-bladed Gillette.

2017 Toyota Highlander front

I do rather like the dark polished 19” alloy wheels featured as part of the Platinum package – even though they shrink the tire sidewalls a bit from 60-series to 55-series. Typically on any non-performance vehicle, I’d prefer a taller tire sidewall to give a bit of pothole impact resistance – a couple of winters spent selling tires here in crater-like Ohio will do that to you, too – but the difference is negligible here. I seriously dig the look of these wheels on this Highlander.

That Platinum package adds another $3,120 to the already-plush Limited trim, adding a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, and second-row heated seats, as well as those lovely wheels. The kids love any time they can warm their rears after a cold soccer practice, and since I never seem to remember to wear gloves when chipping ice off a windscreen I’m partial to a heated wheel, but when a base Highlander can be had for around $31K I’m skeptical of the value of this package. Maybe I’m just cheap.

The perforated leather seats found on the Limited and Platinum trims are impressively comfortable, with beautifully-stitched black leather in my tester. The center console is cavernous – the various implements of electronic distraction my kids use to isolate themselves from the world can easily be hidden – or confiscated – when required.

2017 Toyota Highlander interior

However, the mood of the interior is quite dour. While there are flashes of silver-finished plastic trim on the dashboard and door panels, the darkness of the interior is nearly overwhelming. It’s not helped by the eight-inch Toyota Entune touch-screen, which is one of the least user-friendly systems I’ve encountered. Everything works with practice, but it’s just clunky. Sound quality from the JBL-branded speakers was superb, however.

[Get new and used Toyota Highlander pricing here!]

I’m amused, too, by Toyota’s insistence in making a digital clock a separate component from the audio display. I wonder if it’s a habit from the days of optional everything, like on my mother’s 1990 Corolla, which was so stripped that it had a blank plate rather than a clock.

2017 Toyota Highlander infotainment

My rear-seat passengers were pleased by the heated second row, though when the youngest was relegated to the third row when Grandma sat up front she did complain about cold leather. Then she promptly dozed off. Her big sister noted that she never felt knees in her back, so the third row is perfect at least for those under five feet tall. At 6’4”, I didn’t attempt climbing into the wayback. I’m sorry, B&B.

2017 Toyota Highlander dashboard

For a big wagon riding on somewhat low-profile tires, the Highlander has excellent ride quality. Those Ohio potholes were dispatched with just a mild thump – otherwise, road noise was minimal, and wind noise around the A-pillar was only noticeable when the speedometer reached rude numbers. You’ll never forget that you’re driving a tall, two-and-a-quarter ton machine, but the three-row Toyota doesn’t complain when pushed.

2017 Toyota Highlander gauges

I suppose that’s what attracted car shoppers years ago to full-size wagons – the capability to go anywhere within reason without the worry of whether the car could handle the journey. Open the hatch, toss all of your stuff in, and go. That do-everything, go anywhere mindset is the essence of the modern midsize crossover, too, and the Highlander makes a strong case.

Incidentally, I haven’t seen any new model launch invites from Wagon Queen for years.

2017 Toyota Highlander rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars]

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90 Comments on “2017 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum Review – The Family Truckster, Updated...”


  • avatar
    tylanner

    I’d like to personally thank Mr. Highlander for saving the 4Runner.

    Thank you Toyota Highlander. Thank You.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Agreed. I think Toyota played it really smart to have such a wide breadth of SUV/Crossover options all along, and to hang onto both a midsize and fullsize truck (as poorly as the Tundra may sell compared to other halftons). Rav4/Highlander/4Runner/Sequoia/LandCruiser plus whatever that stupid small FWD-only subcompact crossover thingy is. If only Nissan had held out on wussifying the Pathfinder, or at least retaining the Xterra I bet said BOF SUV would be selling quite well right now. As the meme with the little girl in the ad goes: “why not both?”
      https://goo.gl/images/TPMMyw

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Just looked it up:
        2017 annual US 4Runner sales: 128k
        2017 annual US Highlander sales: 218k
        2017 annual US Pathfinder sales: 81k

        The 4Runner numbers are especially amazing, they were down in the dumps with sub 50k annual sales in the early 2010s, similar to the BOF Pathfinder. But now well into our cheap gas and recovered(ish) economy, the 4Runner is selling more than ever before, just about matching the all time high in ’97 in the 2nd year of the 3rd generation during the SUV boom. Highlander sales are likewise the best they’d ever been in 2017. Toyota is doing something right, Nissan on the other hand…

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Why do think Nissan has whispered about bringing the Xterra back?

          Toyota envy.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yeah it’s gotta kill Nissan product planners to see how they must have gotten excited to go from only 25k BOF Pathy sales in 2012 to a high of 88k CUV-ified Pathfinders in 2013 “Wow guys we’re really smart with that move!” to seeing not only the Highlander continue to blow them out of the water, but to see the BOF 4Runner handily outsell their trendy CUV.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          To be fair, the Murano (76.7k in 2017) steals some Pathfinder sales.

          But, yeah, the larger Nissan CUVs don’t sell nearly as well as the Rogue/Sport (even taking into account fleet sales).

          The Pilot (127.3k) also has the Pathfinder handily beat, but at the same time, lags considerably behind the Highlander.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Good point, I had forgotten about the Murano. Toyota doesn’t really play in that space since the demise of the Venza, they must figure the RX350 has that covered (albeit at a higher cost).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My only real irritation with the current model (as the owner of a Gen 2) is that there is now a forced choice between 2nd row buckets and bench.

    The Gen 2 has a really nifty system where you can convert your bench into buckets by folding and removing the center seat which then stores under the front console. It’s a neat trick.

    Otherwise the Gen 3 obviously gives the faithful more of what they want.

  • avatar

    So much money!

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      +1.
      For a three row CUV in the high $30s, the Highlander is great value. For nearly $50K it’s simply out of it’s league.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Looks like the cheapest trim to get leather is over $40k in AWD guise, ouch. Still, I think that’d be the one to get. Anything below that gets Toyota’s current generation of nasty cloth or the “privilege” of nasty cloth+ vinyl side bolsters. Can I please just have my Toyota mouse-fur velour upholstery back?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “So much money!”

      Makes our 2008 AWD seem downright cheap at $38K out the door, not to mention primitive, compared to this 2017 version.

      Then again, they do run forever, with very little required maintenance.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        highdesertcat

        On vehicle longevity: According to iSeeCars.com only 4.2% of 4Runners make it to 200k miles. For the Highlander its less than 2.4%

        On maintenance: Toyota doesn’t have magic: Tires, breaks, wiper blades, oil, exc. Regular maintenance still needs to be done.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          And per your source that 4.2% gave the 4Runner a top 5 finish in toe 200k+ category with the Sequoia at #1, and GM fullsizers and Ford Expedition at #2 and #3 respectively. Notably, when excluding the BOF set from the top 10 spots, Toyota grabs 4 of the 10 spots, and 3 of those 10 are K-platform vehicles with the same underpinnings including powertrain and (mostly) drivetrain as the Highlander (#1 Avalon ties highlander at 2.4%, #5 Camry has 1.5%).

          Let me toot my horn just a bit more: looking out to vehicles that last beyond 300k miles, the 4Runner takes its rightful spot as king.

          https://www.iseecars.com/used-car-finder#section=studies&study=longest-lasting-cars-2018

          Way to bring up some “evidence” and have it blow up in your face lol

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            gtem

            Sequoia 6.6% Translation 93.4% of Sequoias are in the Junkyard before they hit 200K miles.
            4Runner 95.8% are in the Junkyard before 200K
            Highlander at least 97.6% are in the Junkyard at 200K.

            About that 1 in a million chance of getting to 300K who cares

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            News flash: when people expect their cars to last for a really long time, they TREAT them like they want them to last for a really long time.

            I bet your average new Highlander gets treated better then your average new Durango, simply because people expect to keep it for at least 150,000 miles

            I bet your average 2005 Corolla got treated better than your average 2005 Neon. Or your average 2005 Chevy Cobalt.

            It’s a form of confirmation bias. Yes, Toyotas are reliable in and of themselves, but that’s not all there is to it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Fordson I definitely prescribe to your theory. That’s not to say that Toyota doesn’t overbuild important (and sometimes less important) parts of their cars that help with that longevity, but if you have a Highlander that still rides really well with 120k+ miles and the interior is holding up well and it’s still worth $7k at 15 years of age, if something like a rack and pinion needs replacing there’s a good chance you’ll repair it. If the same happens on say a 2003 Equinox that feels and looks haggard at that mileage and is worth $2500, you very well might elect to get rid of the car (trade in). So the cycle feeds itself to a degree, and there’s a non-trivial factor of who the buyer is of a new Toyota vs a new Chevy. Not guaranteed, but I’ll warrant a guess that outside of the Tahoe/Suburban crowd, the Toyota dealership pulls in higher income folks, or people with better “buy and hold” tendendies. It ends up at least somewhat chicken-or-the-egg.

            These days I’d say the gap between a Malibu and a Camry has narrowed significantly, but ride (like I have) in something like a ’96 ES300 and a ’98 Grand Prix and the difference in overall quality is vast. Toyota just spent more money building their cars back then, point blank.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “About that 1 in a million chance of getting to 300K who cares”

            Apparently the American buying public, since resale values are pretty directly correlated with whether consumers believe a certain vehicle has a certain life left in it even at higher mileages.

            I’m certain that if the average American car owner weren’t so willfully ignorant of even basic maintenance like automatic transmission fluid changes, these rates would look much better across the entire board for all manufacturers. But what we can infer is that Toyota seems to have a real thing going for them in terms of longevity. Cry and moan about it all you want.

            I have enough exposure to higher mileage used cars both with my own wrenching and my indirect network of indie mechanics through my brother. To a man, for them, Toyota = least problematic vehicles around.

            I’ll give the example of my 1996 ES300: 209k miles with all original suspension, only needed a pair of rear swaybar bushings, all other bushings and balljoints were still fully functional and could pass an inspection in any shop. Granted, the struts were finally past it. While we can argue the engine and transmission running and shifting like new were a function of good maintenance (they were), the suspension was something the PO quite frankly neglected (going off how he ignored the rear sway bar clunking around fairly loudly), and yet it held up that well. You will simply never see a domestic sedan of that era hold up so well with our roads.

        • 0 avatar
          Prado

          On the iSeeCars.com vehicle longevity, I suspect you are misinterpreting the percentages. Only 4.2% of 4Runners have made it to 200k . There is a good chance a significant portion of the remaining 95.8% are still on the road, but have less than 200k. Mostly a useless survey (without more detailed info).

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            gtem

            We’ve aready established that very few vehicles make it to 200K.

            High resale values also mean many Toyota drivers are dumping vehicles that are still in good condition.

          • 0 avatar
            360joules

            I agree with Prado, peter gaziss was completely misinterpreting the numbers to make a biased point. Claiming that greater than 90% of Seqouias & 4Runners manufactured are in the junkyard based on a website’s algorithms is giggly stupid as Iseec*rs.com is a website based on cars listed for sale. Owners of high-mileage 4Runners & Seqoiuas are some of the least likely people to sell them because under time value of money theory, their costs are already sunk. Ditto for the Ford Excursion diesel owner or the high-mileage VW TDI owner or the GM W-body owner. Compare current registrations vs vehicles sold and then we can have a reasoned discussion.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Peter Gazis, whatever it is that Toyota’s got, it was a great ownership experience for us.

          Nothing against 4Runners, but I haven’t owned one, and the Highlander was our first excursion into buying Japanese-made cars.

          With over 185K on the odo, it still does DD duties for my grand daughter in El Paso, TX.

          And does so reliably.

          Do you think I would have her drive some piece of unreliable schit out in the desert Southwest.

          Our 2008 Japan-built Highlander made me a Toyota convert, two Tundras and a Sequoia followed.

  • avatar
    gtem

    The looks have finally grown on me, and I think it’s a safe bet in the segment (aren’t Toyotas always?). A bit on the smaller side within the class with one of the more cramped third rows, not the most efficient on paper, not the fastest, no real standout feature of any kind aside from freakish resale value (and probably long term reliability) that makes prices lightly used ones absolutely absurd.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Correct on all counts. Compared to something like a Chevy Traverse, it is positively tiny inside. And the resale value is insane. Pretty much buy one, drive it for a year and 15k miles and resell for more money than you paid new. I have no idea why someone would look for a used one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      I replaced my ’12 Buick Enclave with a 2yr old CPO Highlander (2015). Though it’s the LE trim with cloth and devoid of all the bells and whistles that the Buick had, it did come with the optional V6 and the front and 2nd row seats feel way roomier and more comfortable than my old car, which had little support and felt cramped up front.

      And at $26k with low miles and a full CPO waranty, I don’t think it was a bad value. Granted, it took a while to hunt down that deal and it’s a black car in Florida, but still…

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        That does sound like a good deal! Yeah I think if you’re willing to put up with Toyota’s current “cloth” upholstery, the Highlander in the low $30k range new (or mid 20s used) with AWD and a V6 is an excellent long term value. I was helping a coworker window shop and similarly (with difficulty) found just a handful of listings for LE-grade AWD Highlanders that were 2-3 years old with reasonable miles in the $25-26k range. If I were in that range I’d personally try to haggle down a new one to $30k-ish assuming I could stretch the budget that amount.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          I tried and tried, but the best I could get any local dealer to do on a new ’17 was a base (4cyl) LE for around $30.5k out the door, and it was a weird green with a huge scratch down the side that needed to be sent to the body shop to fix before delivery.

          It was new, but the four-banger was sloooooow. Nah

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Fair enough, I certainly haven’t actually gone through the process of price shopping new Highlanders. 4 cyl is a non-starter on the Highlander, 2GR or bust!

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        $26K+++ or $26k all-in?

        In Florida, this can matter a lot. I don’t think most people know Florida dealerships charge a fee of almost $1k just to do business.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          It was $26k out the door, plus I added the full CPO coverage to 100k miles for an extra $1k. So all-in at $27k incl dealer fees, which I was told by them (and a quick google search) they couldn’t eat.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I didn’t find FL that different. I could have bought my GTI in Maine or in Florida, would have made not much difference to me. The dealer in FL charged a $400 higher dealer BS fee than the dealer in Maine ($699 vs. $299), but they also offered an extra $500 off the price of the car, and I didn’t have to drive it to Florida. One data point, but I have to think that ultimately the bottom line is going to be about the same.

  • avatar
    make_light

    I loved the original Highlander. It was simple but quite handsome, and just the right size. These days, for this class of vehicle, I would take a CX-9 or Sorento hands-down. The Highlander has perceived quality and resale on it’s side, but the other two are much more premium looking/feeling.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Take heart, the 2019 Rav4 is the same size as a 1st Gen Highlander.

      (We’ve got a Toyota dealer in Gallup and still see a fair number of Gen 1 models being driven by senior citizens who have to be the original owners.)

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’m inclined to agree, the gen 1 Highlander hit a sweet spot of styling, size, utility, and overall real and perceived quality (interior materials and such). My in-laws bought a new Limited in ’05 and sold it in 2012 with 170k miles with just basic maintenance and 1 radiator and 1 transmission seal repair. 2 other family friends likewise V6 gen 1s back in the 2007ish time frame and last I heard are still happily driving them. The resale on these gen 1s even as older used cars is obscene. I wouldn’t mind picking one up as a daily driver but the value just isn’t quite there for me (as much as I acknowledge how well they’re built).

      • 0 avatar
        barryfaetheus

        Part of the reason that the resale is so high on the gen 1 Highlander is demand from the used export market. If you travel to Cambodia, you will see the streets filled with US market Gen 1 highlanders, Lexus RX and 2nd Gen Priuses. Together, these are probably 60% of cars on the road (impressive when most people cannot afford any car). Some of them still wear US plates, typically from West Coast states, with tags that expired like 5+ years ago). Presumably this is done to circumvent paying import duties, and I guess without proof of that, it may be impossible to title locally.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          My relatives in Siberia are driving this problem as well haha, both their 1G Highlander and 2nd gen Sienna (’04 AWD XLE Limited) were brought over from the States. They do pretty well in that harsh locale, engine/transmission and suspension-wise. People actually avoid the 2GR for road tax purposes: anything documented 250hp+ falls into a pricier tax bracket. So RX330s are preferred over the RX350 in that same 2nd gen body style, as backwards as that seems.

          • 0 avatar
            360joules

            Hahaha gtem. The fabric of our 1997 4Runner SR5 has worn significantly better than our old 1998 Honda Accord DX sedan. Too bad Toyota has moved away from high-quality fabric knits to the rat fur found in base level cars these days. I should do a photo-montage as to how my 98 Accord aged compared to our 97 4Runner. Traveling outside of the US in places like Mexico, Colombia, or Venezuela, you can see Mitsubishi Monteros which were often stolen in California.. Of course, in those markets that body style was sold as Pajeros not Monteros. One of the reasons I bought my 4Runner in 1998 was because my insurance agent warned that if I bought a Landcruiser, a Montero, a Chevy/GMC Tahoe/Suburban that I would face higher premiums in my zip code because so many were stolen and driven over the border.

    • 0 avatar
      mic

      As an owner of a 1st gen base 4 cyl. (with leather no less lol) I can attest to the “Ride Like New” feel even with 113k on it. I average 22 mpg. It’s just a rock solid daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      make_light

      The Mazdas third row is unfit for humans of any size. I think you’re a moron for even bringing it up.

      • 0 avatar

        Personal insults are not allowed here, and this is your warning.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Go easy on him. He just publicly cited a website that proved the exact opposite of his intent, and the edit window has lapsed. He might be a bit sensitive right now.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            30-mile fetch

            My intent was to show that very very very few vehicles ever make it to 200K miles even Toyotas.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Pete,
            Yes, but it still is deeply ironic that Toyota is holding so many of the top spots.

            It’s a crap study though. If you read the methodology, they’re only looking at mileage of used vehicles sold in 2017. I think iseecars is a garbage website that crafts only weak headline-grabbing pseudo-studies, and the title of “The Longest-Lasting Cars to Reach 200,000 Miles” is well beyond the scope of inference from the data they used.

            As a GM partisan, you should seize on the fact that the frequent change in nameplates means that most of their current offerings haven’t been around long enough to hit high mileage in appreciate percentage, and stuff like the Century and Park Avenue weren’t included in that study because they are no longer offered as new models. So Buick was probably badly underrepresented there.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          Corey Lewis

          Buick driver here. We get insulted all the time in this publication. Where exactly is the line so I know not to cross it.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Probably somewhere around calling people morons.

            Peter how does it feel that your Buick will be turned into a Chinese dishwasher before my 4Runner reaches its half-life?

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I dunno, gtem, my Buick’s at 139K and doing great.

            (Knock on wood)

            Then again, I think that’s the influence of Our Lord Of Eternal Torque.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            So say we all.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I dunno, is ol’ Pete piloting a W-body with an old 3800? I assumed it was one of the more disposable OHC variants. But I’ll stand by my point regardless :)

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “But I’ll stand by my point regardless”

            That’s cool. You can be wrong if it makes you feel better.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Speaking of Our Lord, anyone know why my old LeSabre has problems starting after a fillup?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            ajla Show me a Wbody on an original engine and trans at 500k miles

            Fellas I give the W/C/H with the iron block its due, but it simply can’t touch a longitudinal Aisin auto driven by a Hino-engineered low-revving iron block V6 from the big “T” for longevity.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            FreedMike is it specifically after a fillup, or after any relatively short stop followed by a hot-start? My first thought is some kind of vapor lock issue on the tank, or some kind of issue with enough fuel making it into the rail and to the injectors.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            If I had Top Gear money, I’d love to torture test them both and see what happens.

          • 0 avatar

            Like I said, the line is personal insults.

            Insulting Buick drivers as a group is not a personal insult.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          Corey Lewis

          So racist anti-Chinese comments are ok. Because they insult a whole group of people. Got It.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Agreed.

      Going up in price-point – the Sorento, CX-9, XC90 (if one can get over the built-in-China thing) and the Q7 are the best buys.

      However, the new Santa Fe may replace the Sorento and likely would add the very promising new BMW X5.

  • avatar
    gtem

    “when quite clearly the Country Squire-based behemoth in no way resembled a truck? Fast forward thirty-five years, and the default family-unit transport device is indeed something that is truck-like.”

    Plot twist: the Country Squire had more in common with a truck/SUV with its BOF construction and solid rear axle than today’s unibody transverse-FWD derived crossovers! Funny how the market has evolved when you step back and look at the big picture.

  • avatar
    BC

    The fact that Toyota gives a healthy volume discount to the XLE but doesn’t for these or their hybrid variants is infuriating. The leather is much nicer in the Limited form but that’s it.

    On the other hand, I have not heard good things about the JBL stereo. I don’t care about the panoramic moonroof. Apparently the heated steering wheel is only at the 10 and 2 positions? Is that correct? I also hear the “air conditioned” seats really just blow cabin air up your rear end and is not really cooled. Seems unacceptable for a $50k car.

    At this trim level, its a sucker’s car. Just as Porsche will let you add $90k in options, toyota is just waiting for those who are not price sensitive to come in and hand over an extra $10k for essentially the same car.

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      The base LE trim with the V6 is actually a pretty decent value if you don’t need the extra luxury of the higher trim levels, and the actual buttons and knobs for the HVAC are a refreshing throwback to the Toyotas I grew up with. I think the new ones start around $33-34k.

      Mine reminds me a “well-optioned” Camry wagon from the 90’s with cloth seats.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        If only it had the 90s Camry’s cloth on the seats!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        e30gator,
        I don’t think the Highlander or as we call them Kluger have faired well over the past several years or so. At work we have these and especially over the past several years the build quality has diminished to the point where you might just as well buy a Korean car.

        As for value, they are overly expensive compared to better put together and cheaper vehicles like the Santa Fe/Sorento, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I want the Kluger brush guard/push bar that Toyota only seems to sell in Australia. Stout piece.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          Big Al

          Supposedly, they have the highest predicted longevity of nearly any new car sold today.

          And as a person who typically pays cash for older cars and enjoys wrenching on them myself, I tend to see far fewer 21st century Toyotas that aren’t wrecked at the local U-Pull-It than I do of their Korean and domestic peers.

          Plus, while my old ’07 Optima was busy chewing through its second transmission in 3 years, my mother’s ’98 Avalon was rounding 250k miles on it’s original.

          Hate them as you may, there’s a reason Toyota has earned its reputation as a maker of durable vehicles.

  • avatar
    Kosher Polack

    I’ve always assumed some poor guy at a Toyota plant in 1975 accidentally put a comma in the wrong place on an order form, and they’ve been trying to get rid of the digital clocks ever since.

    I have the same theory about a guy at some Chinese bearing plant, and BAM-fidget spinners.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I like the old digital clock. As with the recently retired cruise control stalk that dates to the early 90s, it works well. The whole cabin can see it and it doesn’t get lost in the infotainment display. Little heritage features like that can be endearing.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Agreed, endearing is the term I’d use as well. I appreciate someone obviously very high up at Toyota has locked in on the high-mount digital clock and their classic cruise control-stub as very simple and effective solutions and is insisting on sticking with it. Man I’d be proud if I was the engineer that first came up with that cruise control stalk to see such longevity of the initial design.

        • 0 avatar
          DavidB

          gtem, I DD an ’02 ES300 (now at only 116K miles) and also love the cruise control design! I think you’re on to something: Imagine a TTAC series that explores a design feature such as this in detail, along with its history and evolution (or lack thereof)?

          Jack, Sajeev, Tim, Steph, Matt — are you hearing this?

    • 0 avatar
      DM335

      Separate clocks never go away. Clocks built into the infotainment disappear when the backup camera display comes on and sometimes when telephone calls come in. A clock should always be visible.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    You didn’t order the Metallic Pea?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I just don’t get what this does that a Sienna won’t do FAR better.

    If you need a minivan, buy a Sienna. If you need an SUV, buy a 4Runner. The neither fish nor fowl doesn’t do anything all that well crossover Camry wagon on stilts (and all the other terrible unusable 3rd row things like it) baffles me. 2-row crossover, OK, kinda get that even if I think they are kinda dumb, but better than a useless sedan. Shoving a uselessly small 3rd seat in so yummy Mommy can pretend she is too good for the minivan she needs? Just no.

    How all these SWMBO’s can look at the Highlander and think it is in any way cooler than an actual minivan is beyond me.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “I just don’t get what this does that a Sienna won’t do FAR better.”

      Not trigger an extended rant from my wife, and many many other wives, about how driving a minivan makes them feel like they wore sweats to work. You can rant against the psychology, but you can’t change it, so you might as well accept it.

      Every time my wife looks at the LX 570 parked on our curb she has a reaction of “I’m glad we didn’t get the van.” (We were comparison shopping a new Pacifica Hybrid and a lightly used MDX Advance against it. She would have been OK with the MDX but liked the LX best.)

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      While I’m basically inclined to agree, I think that for many consumers the Highlander ends up being a Goldilocks sort of car in that it is more compact than a Sienna (and undeniably avoids minivan stigma), while having the wagon/SUV shape that gives them the utility they want for hauling things, it’s usefully larger in terms of trunk space than the Rav4 and is blessed with a very smooth and powerful engine, and superior driving dynamics over a chunky 4Runner. Start thinking of it like an AWD Camry wagon and I think it makes a lot more sense. As much as its “offroad” performance pales in comparison to a 4Runner, it is still much less stressful for someone to pilot up to a hiking trailhead or something like that compared to a modern sedan or minivan. The 2nd gen Sienna AWD used to have 7.4 inches of ground clearance(!!), the third gen AWDs don’t get any sort of suspension lift from the FWD variants. I’ve been in my relatives’ ’04 Sienna AWD when we navigated some rough and overgrown two track in the wet to get to the dacha, the van excelled. Same family also has a Gen 1 Highlander, which they were then planning to sell since acquiring the Sienna (had a third child).

      • 0 avatar
        ernest

        Nailed it! When I see a new Highlander, I see the spiritual successor to our old Volvo 245GL Wagon. Subaru seems to hold the prize for grabbing the demographic for that market segment though, at least out here in the PacNW.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Right on ernest. Back home in the college town of Ithaca NY where I grew up, the granola crowd migrated from old boxy Volvo wagons to Subarus (1st and 2nd gen Outback especially), then many hopped over to Priuses, and those that outgrew the Subarus (or got soured with headgasket repairs) spread out to Highlanders and Pilots if they needed more space, or CRVs and Rav4s.

          The Highlander is just a solid family “truckster” as described. Practical, reliable, long-lived. Sure the plastics and such as not as rich as the 1st gen that some of us are reminiscing about, but those are minor details ultimately.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The title says it all! Truckster? WTF!

    How can a FWD Toyota Camry morphed into an AWD station wagon be a truck?

    We have these at work and I do think they are terrible. They are on par with a Kia Sorento, actually I prefer the Sorento.

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      “How can a FWD Toyota Camry morphed into an AWD station wagon be a truck?”

      What is a “truck” anyway?

      When a modern FWD Camry that’s been morphed into an AWD station wagon is more powerful, capable off road, and has twice the towing capacity of my old Ford Ranger XLT, who cares?

      If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        It’s the modern American wagon.

        • 0 avatar
          e30gator

          Agreed. And I doubt many Highlander or Honda Pilot buyers envision themselves towing trailers full of construction materials or going mudding off-road in them.

          And for the same reasons a station wagon might have still been appealing in 1983, large CUVs are appealing to families today.

          The ride height has changed, but the basic formula is the same. Plus, I feel my family’s a lot safer not being eye-level with the front bumper of some dudebro’s F-250.

  • avatar
    monkeydelmagico

    Looks like a disposable razor from the front. Gillette. Proud sponsor of the Soccer Mom Invitational

  • avatar
    JaredN

    That radio software makes me cringe. Subaru has abandoned that recently, they’ve been using it for about 4 years. It’s basically awful.


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