The Toyota Highlander turned age 22 in 2022 and it retains its status as a respected midsize sport utility vehicle. Its consistency and versatility have provided long-haul clout.
Last year, the Highlander had its best sales year since the three-row family hauler’s debut.
Competition is healthy in the segment. The Highlander’s rivals include the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas. They’re all worthy, with individual strengths from all-wheel drive to the economy as determining factors.
Now in the thick of its fourth generation, the Highlander is available in six trims, including the reviewed top-line Platinum edition. The base L front-wheel-drive choice begins at $35,205; the Platinum level begins at $47,500.
All-wheel drive is a $1,600 option for the L, LE, and XLE. It’s a $1,950 upgrade for XSE, Limited and Platinum trims.
Generous list of standard features
Toyota’s durability and longevity reputation is equaled by the automaker’s generous list of standard features throughout its lineup. The Highlander does particularly well in the standard equipment category.
The base L trim is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295 horsepower and an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow drive modes are standard. LED headlights and taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, 3-row seating, 3-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, five USB ports, push-button start and eight airbags are all in the mix.
Gas mileage averages are 21 miles per gallon in-city driving and 29 mpg on the freeway with front-wheel-drive trims, 20 and 27 mpg in all-wheel-drive selections. The towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.
An eight-inch touchscreen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa and SiriusXM (free three-month trial) are also standard, as is the Safety Sense 2.5+ safety tech suite bundle. It includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and road sign assist.
The Limited and Platinum trims get the works to move into luxury status. Leather seats (heated and ventilated in front), 20-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, JBL premium audio, a hands-free power liftgate, and navigation are part of both trims.
Platinum-trim-only features include a panoramic moonroof, an adaptive front lighting system, rain-sensing wipers, a head-up display, and heated second-row seats.
Like its exterior and exterior appearance, the Toyota Highlander drives with expected standards of SUV driving. The exterior is standard fare. The Highlander, without any odd grille patterns or extreme curvature, blends into the rest of the crowd of SUVs dominating the roads. The interior is similarly defined. Everything is there. Nothing is extreme.
Driving the Highlander is much the same. It accelerates with satisfaction and maneuvers well through traffic. On steep ascents or winding through canyons and/or mountain terrain, the engine had its moments. More horsepower would have been warranted.
More features in the Toyota Highlander
The navigation system works with quick, in-time direction notifications. Seating is for seven, with the second-row comfortable for two adults or three small occupants. The third row, like in other SUVs, has limitations. Head and leg room is tight, with passengers relegated to the back best positioned there if petite. With the second and third rows folded, there’s 84.3 cubic feet of cargo space. It’s an average tally for the mid-sized segment.
The top-line Highlander can surpass $50,000, enough for a financial hesitation. The tally is about $5,000 more than the average price of a new car in the United States. It softens what would otherwise make the utilitarian, family SUV overpriced.
But if reputation, longevity, durability and top-rated safety rankings are important, the 2022 Toyota Highlander is a strong choice. It’s a young adult and maturing well.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: email@example.com.