The Toyota Highlander is a crossover SUV that's a bit smaller than most of its competition. Regardless, with engine choices, decent fuel economy, and the option of all-wheel drive, it is a great pick in the segment. It features plenty of seating, and the conservative styling and large amount of storage make it ideal for families.
New For 2013
The four-cylinder is now available only in the base model. A touch-screen stereo display is now standard, and Toyota’s Entune infotainment system is optional on the SE.
The base model of the 2013 Toyota Highlander comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels and privacy glass. The Plus trim adds roof rails, fog lights, a lift-up rear window, and a windshield wiper deicer. The SE adds a sunroof and power controls for the liftgate door. The Limited, which comes with a high markup, gets equipped with 19-inch wheels, heated mirrors, additional chrome trimming, and keyless entry. There are nine standard paint options, which are mostly neutral colors. All models feature the rear spoiler, and all models have special colors available.
Other exterior options include a hood protector, running boards, door edge guards, and a paint protection film. For aesthetics, there is the option of body side molding and an exhaust tip. The Plus, SE, and Limited all come standard with a roof rack. Other than this, a tow kit can be added for hauling.
Overall, the exterior design has plenty of pleasing curves and corners, and while it has rather conservative styling, it isn't so boring that younger drivers wouldn't be interested.
Interior & Cargo
The interior design for the 2013 Toyota Highlander is probably one of the nicest designs in this class. The instrument cluster is very easy to use, and it doesn't rely on over-the-top design antics. The visibility is great from the driver's seat, and the space is plentiful for both front and second row of seating. The third row lacks in legroom, however. However, the second row easily slides to adjust for extra cargo space without placing the seat down. Also, the second row features reclining seats for additional comfort. The center section of the second row can also be easily stored in the floor makes access to the third row incredibly easy. Cargo space measures at 95.4 cubic feet with the rear seats placed down, which is above average in this segment.
Additionally, the base model features cloth upholstery, air conditioning with rear ventilation, and a six-speaker, AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 player integration available. Moving up to the Plus trim, the Highlander gets power lumbar support in the driver's seat, powered fold-flat second row seats, and a rearview camera system. The SE comes with a powered, eight-way adjustable driver seat, heated seats, and gorgeous leather upholstery.
Going even further, the Limited offers excellent interior with soft touch materials throughout. Also included is a tri-zone automatic climate control system, a four-way powered passenger seat, and a premium, nine-speaker, JBL sound system. Options include a rear seat DVD package, remote engine start, and a smoker's outfit. Overall, the interior is spacious and impressively appointed without being overdone.
Safety for the 2013 Toyota Highlander includes standard anti-lock brakes, braking assist, and hill-start assist. Hill-start assist keeps the vehicle from rolling during initial acceleration. Airbags include front side-impact airbags, front, rear, and third row head airbags, side-curtain airbags for all rows, and front knee airbags to protect the driver. Traction control and stability control are also standard fare.
Additional safety features include a post-collision safety system, whiplash protection for driver and passenger in the front row, tire pressure monitoring, and the VIP RS3200 Plus Security System. Headlamps feature auto delay off, dusk sensors, and daytime running lights. The Limited also features glass breakage sensors.
During crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2013 Highlander received a rating of four out of five stars, with a four star rating for frontal collision and a perfect rating for side impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), rated the 2013 Toyota Highlander with a highest possible score of ""Good,"" which says a lot about the vehicle.
The 2013 Toyota Highlander comes with two engine choices. The base engine is a 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine that provides 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. This is front-wheel drive, and it comes standard with a six-speed, automatic transmission. Estimated fuel economy is 20/25 mpg city/highway.
Available as standard on the Limited and optional for all other models, the 3.5-liter, V-6 engine makes for 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is optional, but front-wheel drive comes standard. The Limited (or equally equipped base, LE, or Plus models) is one of the fastest crossovers on the road. It can reach zero to 60 in about 7.5 seconds. Fuel economy for front-wheel drive models is estimated at 18/24 mpg city/highway, and for the all-wheel drive this number drops only slightly to 17/22 mpg city/highway.
Overall, the Toyota Highlander provides a competent ride. Handling is easy thanks to the slightly smaller size for a crossover, which also aids in easier parking. The standard engine may be adequate, but the larger 3.5-liter engine gives the Highlander a quickness that is almost unmatched in this segment. Considering the small difference in fuel economy, there is almost no reason to get the base engine, as the sacrifice of power is much more significant than the savings at the gas pumps. Overall, it's difficult to find fault with a well-equipped Highlander.
Key Competitors For The 2013 Toyota Highlander
- Chevrolet Equinox
- Hyundai Santa Fe
- Kia Sorento
- Mazda CX-9