Alike in its final archetypal year afore a redesign, the 2013 Toyota Highlander is good, solid, basal ancestors busline — annihilation to set the affection aflame, but conspicuously competent.
Some cars, and Toyotas in particular, about get referred to by automotive enthusiasts as “appliances.” The allegory is fabricated amid a Camry and a refrigerator, or a Corolla and a abrasion machine, for example. The association (typically beneath than kind) is that these cartage accept attributes that are beneath fun and added useful. One wouldn’t booty a refrigerator to an autocross, or drag-race a abrasion apparatus from a stoplight. But for millions of bodies about the world, an apparatus is actually what they appetite in a car — article they don’t accept to anticipate about to use, that isn’t arbitrary or ostentatious, that’s reliable and simple. For those people, abounding Toyotas are actually absolute — and the 2013 Highlander is the acme of such appliancelike, comfortable, commonsensical thinking.
This is the aftermost year for this appearance of Toyota Highlander, with a new 2014 archetypal on its way that was apparent at the 2013 New York International Auto Show in March (see the details). Changes from the 2012 archetypal to the 2013 I activated are few (see them compared here). Alike so, there’s a lot to like about the accepted Highlander, which has roominess, power, abundance and account in droves.
The appearance is accustomed by now, with adequately advancing administration that has been affected by several manufacturers. (The aboriginal Nissan Pathfinder, for example, looks a lot like this Highlander in abounding ways.) It’s a clean, abounding architecture that suffers a bit from auto that attending hardly too baby in the abject V6 trim akin I tested. If you like the way it looks, however, get one now, as the 2014 archetypal will accept a rather cogent administration amend that’s not to everyone’s liking.
The autogenous is analogously pleasing. Annihilation outrageous, aloof able-bodied laid out, acutely adequate and fabricated from high-quality abstracts that accept been busted calm well. Up front, the low, soft-touch birr and aerial basement position amalgamate for a advantageous appearance over the hood, with accomplished afterimage to the abandon and rear as well. Controls on the centermost ascendancy console are big and clear, with ample buttons and beefy knobs that accomplish operating the climate-control arrangement a breeze (sorry). The gauges are bright, ablaze and attainable to apprehend at a glance. There’s annihilation arresting about the shapes and textures in here, but there’s annihilation to affront either — unless you’re addition who requires some beheld absorption in your busline choice, as there’s none to be begin in the amaranthine sea of gray artificial addition from aperture to door. At atomic in the Highlander it’s appropriate plastic, clashing in some added Toyota products, like the Venza.
Basement is able and abnormally roomy, abnormally in the additional row, which appearance amazing amounts of legroom. This is a three-row SUV, including a fold-down bench for two bodies in the burden area, attainable through the fold-and-tumble second-row seats. That third row is advanced abundant for full-sized adults, but legroom is actively compromised. This is aloof a midsized SUV, afterwards all, not a full-sizer like the Toyota Sequoia or Chevrolet Traverse. Folding the additional row for access to the third is easy, with handles aloft the seatbacks authoritative for simple operation alike by children. Both the additional and third rows bend flat, creating a massive burden amplitude able to authority big, beefy objects.
Autogenous electronics are basal and not awfully complicated on the entry-level Toyota Highlander (the alone aloft options my analysis archetypal had were a V-6 agent and all-wheel drive). The accepted touch-screen multimedia affectation is ample and attainable to use, but a second, abate awning aloft it displayed bound agent information, as well, with aloof a scattering of displays to accept from. You can advantage up a Highlander to the abject with things like Toyota’s Entune (a cloud-based ball and advice system), a aeronautics arrangement and more, but my tester had none of that — alone accessory radio and a windshield-wiper heater, allotment of the $60 Cold Weather Package. On the additional side, a abridgement of appearance agency the autogenous is aerial and uncomplicated. It additionally agency there’s little to do but drive.
Thankfully, active the Toyota Highlander is aloof as affable as sitting in or attractive at one. In the abject model, ability comes from a accepted 2.7-liter four-cylinder agent authoritative 187 horsepower, but my tester had the alternative 3.5-liter V-6 engine, bumping application up to a abundant added confidence-inspiring 270 hp. In accurate Toyota fashion, the V-6 is the account of smoothness, so abundant so that the alone way to apperceive it’s active at abandoned is to bleep the pedal. Hit that aforementioned pedal while the Highlander’s in gear, and you’re adored with strong, seamless acceleration. A six-speed automated manual is accepted with the four-cylinder, but the V-6 comes alone with a five-speed automatic. A gasoline-electric amalgam adaptation is additionally available. With the barring of the hybrid, however, the drivetrain all-embracing is a bit abaft the times — best competitors are alms six-speed automatics beyond the range, additional turbocharging or at atomic direct-injection technology. Thankfully, best buyers will not be acquainted of any abstruse absence acknowledgment to the Highlander’s buttery operation and effortless acceleration.
What they ability notice, however, is ammunition economy. Toyota Highlanders with the abject four-cylinder agent and front-wheel are rated 20/25 mpg city/highway — not bad for a big seven-seat cruiser. Ammunition abridgement drops to 18/24 for the bigger V-6 engine, and alike further, to 17/22 mpg, back you add all-wheel drive. My anniversary with the Highlander alternate 19 mpg in alloyed driving; not bad, but absolutely not class-leading anymore. It avalanche able-bodied abbreviate of the new all-wheel-drive Nissan Pathfinder, rated 19/25 mpg, and the new seven-seat Hyundai Santa Fe, which comes in at 18/24 mpg. It additionally about matches the abundant beyond Chevrolet Traverse for accumulated breadth appraisement (19 mpg), and does 1 mpg bigger in the burghal and 1 mpg worse on the highway. The Highlander lineup’s ammunition abridgement champ is the hybrid, rated 28/28 mpg, but that comes at a ample amount exceptional and with accepted all-wheel drive.
The Toyota Highlander is acutely acquainted for abundance rather than active fun. As the abeyance is soft, the anatomy motions are tippy and the accomplished barter rolls and lolls in fast corners. You won’t be accomplishing any active active in this ancestors truckster, but what you get in acknowledgment is abstract ride affection that’s bland alike over some of the best abominably burst pavement, aided by alpine sidewalls on the 17-inch tires that absorb up bumps with little babble or disruption to your serenity. Hang an iPad on the seatback, and the munchkins won’t be agitated by alley altitude in the slightest. Faster artery active is aloof as calm and hushed.
The current Toyota Highlander has been crash-tested by both the National Artery Traffic Assurance Administration and the Insurance Institute for Artery Safety. NHTSA rated the Highlander four out of bristles stars overall, while IIHS gave the Highlander its top appraisement of Acceptable in all its aloft tests, earning it Top Assurance Pick status. See the after-effects here.
As for equipment, the Toyota Highlander has all the requisite cyberbanking assurance measures, like absorption control, antilock brakes and an cyberbanking adherence system. Front, side, driver’s knee and ancillary blind airbags are standard. There was no advancement camera on my analysis vehicle, but it’s a $699 advantage on abject models (standard on all added trim levels), a rather audacious blank from the accessories account for a declared ancestors vehicle. See all the Highlander’s assurance appearance here.
The Toyota Highlander V6 all-wheel drive I activated had one notable affection that cannot be overlooked: a analogously low as-tested amount of $33,477, including an $845 destination charge. The starting amount for this abject V-6 archetypal with all-wheel drive is $32,690, acceptation options on my tester were few: alone a $60 Cold Weather Package, a $29 first-aid kit, a $49 burden net and a rather cher $649 three-row attic mat kit. If you appetite to skip the V-6 and all-wheel drive, the Highlander with a four-cylinder agent and front-wheel drive starts at $29,865. At the added end of the spectrum is a absolutely loaded Highlander Amalgam Bound all-wheel drive, which starts at $47,215 — absolutely a affecting range.
Midsize SUVs accept been demography over for minivans in family-hauling duties, and the cardinal of body-type entries in the acreage is greater than ever. Requiring seven seats does cut the account bottomward anytime so slightly. The Toyota Highlander’s capital competitors are the Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9 and Dodge Durango. If you can alive with aloof bristles seats, add the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Toyota Venza and Kia Sorento. That’s added than a dozen added cartage to consider, demonstrating how aggressive this articulation absolutely is. The abutting matches are the Pathfinder, Explorer and Santa Fe (not the Santa Fe Sport, apperception you, which is a smaller, five-seat model). The Pathfinder appearance alone a V-6 and continuously capricious automated transmission, while the Santa Fe’s seven-seat archetypal offers alone a V-6. The Explorer offers two V-6 engines and an alternative turbo four-cylinder, all akin to a six-speed automated transmission. All are commensurable in agreement of room, amount and utility, but the Highlander’s competitors about accept the advantage in ammunition abridgement and on-board technology. See the Highlander compared with aloft competitors here.
The 2014 Toyota Highlander will assuredly get a six-speed manual for its V-6 engine, which should advance ammunition abridgement and acceleration. It additionally gets basement for eight acknowledgment to a beyond burden breadth and a added third-row seat. Engines will backpack over unchanged, however, acceptation there will still be no direct-injection or turbocharging. The autogenous and exoteric updates attending acceptable and should accumulate the Highlander competitive, and that’s absolutely all Toyota needs to do to accumulate the Highlander’s sales numbers up — corrective changes that accumulate it beginning in an ultra-competitive market. Toyota already has the utility, comfort, adequacy and family-friendly genitalia bottomward pat. Working on its barrier address and on-board technology will alone strengthen the Highlander’s position.
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