More than 2 million new Toyota Highlanders have found a home with U.S. customers since 2001. That’s when the brand’s midsize SUV went on sale in this country. The Highlander remains a popular choice today, too, and that’s true of both new and used models. In either case, the Highlander offers impressive safety, performance, family-friendly technology and SUV-style capabilities.
Let’s say, however, that it’s time for your Highlander to find its next home. You’ll want to proactively show off those benefits. This is particularly important for the 2011-2016 Toyota Highlander. These models provide distinctive advantages that non-owners might not realize. For example, all Highlanders come standard with a flip-up tailgate window for easy cargo access. That’s not something folks will see on a rival, such as the Ford Explorer.
Here are five other areas on which to focus when selling a used Toyota Highlander.
1. The Standard Center Stow Seating System
The 2011 model year can be considered the beginning of the modern era for the Toyota Highlander. In 2010, Toyota sold the vehicle with a standard two-row cabin and seating for five. The Highlander was available with a third row that year, but it was optional. This changed in 2011. From this point on, the Highlander became a full-time three-row entry that better matched its mainstream competition. It does more than just “match” its key rival for total cargo space, though. The Highlander has 95.4 cubic feet of storage with all seats folded. A 2011 Honda Pilot compares with 87 cubic feet.
The Highlander also builds on that advantage with its second-row seats. To boost versatility, Toyota’s “Center Stow” system is standard for the 2011 through 2016 model year. The setup is anchored by two outboard captain’s chairs. For three-person seating, the Highlander has a small jump seat that can create a 40/20/40 second-row bench. If you prefer a center console, Toyota supplies one of those as well. The secret for the Highlander is that both the console and the jump seat are standard and easy to swap. The one you’re not using is folded up and hidden below the front-row console. It’s exactly the kind of feature you should demonstrate when trying to sell a pre-owned Highlander.
2. Available Driver Assistance Technology
When it comes to safety, the Toyota Highlander offers an enviable record of success in popular testing programs. The 2011-2013 Toyota Highlander received a Top Safety Pick Rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Models from 2014-2016 earn the full Top Safety Pick+ rating. That’s thanks to new-for-2014 front crash-prevention technology. To be specific, these Highlanders are available with forward collision warning and automatic forward emergency braking. Other safety options from 2014 on include automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, a blind spot system, lane departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert and a rearview camera. (The 2011-2013 Highlanders offer a rearview camera as well.)
Some 2015 and 2016 Toyota Highlanders can provide at least one unexpected driver-assistance feature that prospective buyers will want to hear about: the “Driver Easy Speak” system. It leverages the microphone for the Highlander’s voice-recognition technology, allowing you to broadcast your voice over the audio speakers. If you’re dealing with prospective buyers who have kids, they’ll be glad to know they don’t have to shout to be heard. They simply can turn up the volume.
3. The Hybrid Difference
Although a hybrid powertrain isn’t common in the segment, the technology has been popular among Highlander owners. Toyota sells thousands of Highlander Hybrids each year. Credit for that goes to the vehicles’ strong combination of fuel economy and capability. For all hybrid models from 2011 through 2016, the benefits start with EPA ratings of 28 mpg in all facets of EPA testing. The most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive Honda Pilot from 2011 is limited to 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. And to be clear, that’s the right comparison. Potential buyers might not realize it, but the Highlander Hybrid is equipped with standard all-wheel drive.
They also might be surprised at how much it can tow. The greenest Highlander can haul up to 3,500 pounds. This strength is backed by a 3.6-liter V6 that was new for the 2011 model year. Working with two electric motors and a nickel-metal hydride battery, the upgraded engine helps the system deliver 280 total horsepower through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The non-hybrid V6 Highlander can pull more weight, with a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, but it actually has 10 fewer horsepower. The 2011 Pilot? It has 30 fewer horses.
4. Infotainment Information
People shopping for pre-owned vehicles still prefer to have as much modern infotainment technology as possible. In the 2011 through 2016 model years, which span three years before and after an all-new generation debuted in 2014, all trim levels have a standard auxiliary input jack. For prospective buyers, that means the ability to listen to audio from digital devices. Many 2011-2013 Highlander models also have a USB port and Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming.
If you’re selling a 2013-2016 Highlander, you can point out a higher level of standard infotainment technology. This includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, a USB port and Toyota’s “Entune” interface for select mobile apps. Be sure to tap through a few of the different functions for the system and demonstrate the standard voice recognition. As for optional content, this depends on the exact model year but can include navigation, a premium JBL audio system and, for 2014 models and newer, an 8-inch touch screen and a Blu-ray/DVD rear-seat entertainment system. People like to see this sort of up-to-date technology on any pre-owned vehicle.
5. Popular Premium Content
Finally, don’t forget to spend some time on your Highlander’s upscale cues. Heated and leather-trimmed front seats are available for all model years under review here, while Highlanders from 2014 forward can be found with heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Regardless of the season, you can let potential buyers feel the difference those extra comforts can make. You should follow a similar strategy with other high-end Highlander content. If you have a sunroof, and it’s not snowing or raining, show that it works even if it is cold or dark out. Does your Highlander have a power-operated, height-adjustable liftgate? You also can put that through its paces to also lift your Highlander’s value.