Toyota has expanded their SUV line and is now offering many different varieties to tend to all of their consumers needs. The Toyota Highlander has been a fan favorite for a long time and is the midsized member of the Toyota SUV family. Since its inception in 2001 the Highlander has offered a combination of high quality interior accommodations and a very rugged truck capable of any off road task given to it. The newest generation of Highlander is slightly longer and wider that the first gen, but still fits into the midsize class. The base model is setup to seat five passengers, but there is a 7 seat version in a higher trim level. The 2011 Highlander offers 3 different engines, but comes stock with a 2.7 liter 187 horsepower engine and a six speed automatic transmission.

For those who are power hungry the Highlander can be fitted with a 6 cylinder engine offering up to 270 horsepower and a 5 speed manual transmission is also available. The top trim level introduces the new continuously variable transmission that removes the need to shift altogether for a totally new driving experience.

Body styles: Sport/utility vehicle
Engines: 2.7L I-4, 3.3L V-6, 3.5L V-6
Transmissions: 5-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic, continuously variable transmission
Models: Base, Sport, Limited, Hybrid, Hybrid Limited

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.

This generation Highlander is more rounded than the last generation, looking much more like a crossover than a traditional sport/utility. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard; 19-inch alloys, foldable power heated side-view mirrors, and chrome accents are optional.

The Highlander can seat as many as seven, but five seats come standard. Second row is removable, and leather seats plus 10-way power driver seat are available. Six-speaker audio is also available.

When Motor Trend last tested the Toyota Highlander, it was with the 3.5-liter V-6 in a seven-seat all-wheel drive Sport. It accelerated briskly, reaching 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and running the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds at 87.7 mph. Handling is decent, but tires seem to howl during hard cornering. The Highlander stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet.

Driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, three-row side curtain airbags, and a driver knee airbag are standard. Antilock brakes with brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, stability control, and traction control are standard on Highlander and Hybrid.

Base: 17-20 mpg city/23-27 mpg highway
Sport, Limited: 17-18 mpg city/23-24 mpg highway
Hybrid: 27 mpg city/25 mpg highway

  • Standard rearview camera on all but I-4 Base
  • Versatile, spacious interior
  • Excellent power
  • Family-friendly features
  • Coarse engine noise at speed
  • Pricey Limited and Hybrid
  • Third row doesn’t fold flat

Does a good job under the radar


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