The Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV offering room for up to eight. First introduced for the 2001 model year, the Highlander offers standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive.
2014 to Present: Toyota Highlander
The third-generation Toyota Highlander was introduced for 2014, with exterior dimensions that are nearly identical to the outgoing model. Like the Toyota Sienna minivan, the Highlander is geared toward providing an ideal blend of passenger carrying capacity, utility and fuel economy.
Its front fascia includes a trapezoidal grille that is offset by wraparound headlamps. Available fog lamps sit at the lower corners of the front bumper, bookending a narrow lower grille opening.
Firm shoulders and oversized wheel wells highlight the Highlander’s profile. From the sides you’ll also notice a sloping roofline, a rising beltline and body sculpting. From the rear, this model has a roof spoiler and wraparound combination lamps.
The base Highlander comes with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 185 horsepower. An available 3.5-liter V6 provides 270 horsepower. Both engines were paired with a six-speed automatic transmission when the third-generation Highlander was introduced.
Inside, all models provide three rows of seats with bucket seats up front, followed by a pair of bench seats for the next two rows. The second-row seat can be swapped out for captain’s chairs, reducing overall seating capacity to seven, but providing improved legroom for all passengers behind the second row.
The third-generation Highlander comes standard with features like a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a USB port and a touch-screen audio system. Storage compartments are located throughout the SUV and include an oversized compartment between the front seats. Top-of-the line models are outfitted with features like heated and cooled front seats, leather upholstery and a premium audio system.
For 2016, Toyota made a towing package standard for all V6 models. Significant updates were rolled out for the 2017 model year, including updated styling and an improved list of standard safety features that adds forward collision warning. The V6-powered Highlander also received a new eight-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.
Earlier Toyota Highlander Models
Upon its debut, the 2001 Toyota Highlander offered a standard 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine and an available 3.0-liter V6 engine. Both are paired with a four-speed automatic transmission.
For 2004, the larger engine was replaced by a 3.3-liter V6 engine that’s mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. That same year, an optional third-row seat was introduced.
The second-generation Highlander rolled out for 2008. This model is powered by a 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine, which is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Starting in 2009, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder making 187 horsepower was added to the lineup and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota refreshed the Highlander for 2011, outfitting it with a new front fascia and three-row seating as standard equipment.