The color of our test car -- Toyota calls it sandy beach metallic but it’s really just a drab beige -- did it no favors. The Highlander is already a vehicle that is somewhat lacking in visual substance, and this color made it look even more boring, to my eyes.
On the plus side, the interior of the Highlander is quite nice. The control buttons are all well labeled and large enough to be easily manipulated even if the driver is wearing gloves. The stereo system has two large knobs, one to control sound and one to change the station. The volume knob in particular is exceptionally designed -- its turns are silky smooth and you can adjust the sound level in almost infinitesimal increments. OK, that just sounds like what a volume button is supposed to do, but really, this one feels much smoother and more high-quality than what you find in most vehicles.
I have no complaints with the powertrain -- the 270-hp V-6 and the five-speed automatic are very well matched. Acceleration is smooth and power is more than ample for a crossover.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor