This is not an attractive vehicle. The headlight protrusions that are proud of the sheetmetal are particularly odd. Just because you can design headlights any which way you wish doesn’t mean that you should. I bring up the styling mainly because so many of the Highlander’s competitors are reasonably attractive, from the Chevy Traverse to the Mazda CX-9 to the Kia Sorento.
One undeniable Highlander strength is the powertrain, a typical silky-smooth Toyota V-6 that works well with the five-speed automatic. (I know, I know, a six-speed automatic would be more like it, but I doubt most Highlander owners know or care how many forward speeds are in their gearbox.) In any case, the Highlander has very strong, smooth acceleration off the line. It’s too bad the steering is lifeless, the ride quality is only so-so, with insufficient body control.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor