Our test drive of the Toyota Highlander, which lasted a week, allowed us to clearly formulate the impression of this crossover. You can definitely say that it has become better than its predecessor in terms of behavior on the road. But there are also a few comments to the salon. We also checked whether Highlander was able to confirm the passport data of the acceleration dynamics. And we found out in detail whether it is able to compete with other Toyota SUVs, such as the Prado and Land Cruiser 200. Read more about all this in the story below.
Appearance and prices
From the outside, Highlander is generally pleasant, but some details raise questions. For example, the gaps between the front lights and the hood turned out to be unacceptably wide. Looking at some angles, you might even think that the hood is not closed. By the way, the new RAV4 has the same feature. Also, if you look closely, you can see a slight difference in color between metal and plastic parts in artificial light, as if the paint layer on some of them is not thick enough. However, our thickness gauge showed 120 microns on the doors and up to 150 on the body (which is not bad for a Japanese car, you will agree). It is also worth noting that the front fenders and hood are generally made of aluminum.
Toyota Highlander front view
I was also struck by the fact that turn signals still use ordinary light bulbs. Many (even cheaper) competitors have led lamps installed. Perhaps the Americans, as the main target audience of this car, are not confused by this decision, but I can’t understand it. Although the rest of the new optics looks very decent. At night on the highway, there are no complaints about the headlights: they Shine very effectively. The high beam has an auto-on mode. But the function of “cutting out” oncoming cars (which provides matrix optics of German crossovers or BladeScan brand Lexus) is not here. And turning lights at the wheel, given the price of the crossover, would also be nice to install. But no.
Today, the Toyota Highlander can’t be called a cheap car. In our country (at the time of writing – InfoCar), this crossover comes with only one power plant-atmospheric V6 3.5, which is paired with an eight-speed “automatic” Aisin and all-wheel drive. Customers can choose from two options: Elegance for $ 49,000 and Premium for $ 60,000. We got a more expensive version for the test.
Toyota Highlander rear view
Externally, our “premium” is distinguished by a chrome grille, 20-inch wheels (first available for this model) and a panoramic roof. The rear of the expensive equipment can be recognized by the glossy cover on the rear bumper. It turns out that everything is thought out in this plan: from any side (and even from the sky), everyone will see how much you gave for this car.
Toyota Highlander tail lights
I will note one more interesting detail. The trunk lid here is completely made of plastic, so the glass now does not open separately. Naturally, thanks to the use of this material, the fifth door has become much easier. But, unfortunately, this did not affect the speed of its opening with the help of an electric drive. As before (and as often happens in Japanese cars), the trunk opens rather slowly. On the other hand, this is probably a payment for the reliability of mechanisms that do not wear out so quickly.
Motor and dynamics
Of course, I would very much like to share information about the new engine and new gearbox in the new, latest generation of Toyota Highlander. But we are talking about a Japanese car, and therefore the new generation is not a reason to abandon proven technologies. On the other hand, a more suitable engine for this crossover Toyota has not yet appeared. Yes, there is also a 2.8-liter diesel engine, but it doesn’t fit the Highlander’s target audience. After all, it is known that this model is primarily for the American market, and diesel engines are not held in high esteem in the United States.
Toyota Highlander engine
Under the hood of the test Highlander installed atmospheric V6 3.5 series 2GR-FKS. Fuel consumption has not actually changed: the box remains the same, and the crossover itself is even slightly heavier than its predecessor. During the test, the fuel consumption was about 10 l / 100 km on the highway and about 16 l / 100 km in the city.
In the US, the Highlander is sold exclusively with a hybrid powerplant. This option allows you to save a little on fuel. Although the hybrid crossover does not use the installation from the Lexus RX, but the same as the Camry with a 2.5-liter engine at the base. But such versions will not be imported to our market.
Toyota Highlander acceleration to 100
According to the passport, the test car should accelerate to 100 km / h in 8.5 s. the Best result was 9.2 s. at the same time, the “climate” was disabled, and I started with two pedals. On the other hand, even if you turn on the “climate” and accelerate with one pedal (that is, as it happens every day), the dynamics does not go beyond 9.7 s to “hundreds”. This result can be considered quite decent, although it does not meet the passport data. But if this is not enough for you, you can contact specialists who will return this engine to its “native” 300 HP even on Stage 1. and even “thrown on top” of 60 Nm of torque. With this upgrade, overclocking should improve by about half a second. But does Highlander need it?
The Toyota Highlander is a large and soft crossover that feels very fast. In addition, the specifics of controlling the thrust of atmospheric V6 engines give their own special emotions. Toyota does not know anything about WLTP and all sorts of Euro 6, so when you fully press the accelerator pedal in Sport mode, the crossover, without thinking for a long time, squats on the rear axle. Then you feel a good catch, which is accompanied by a muffled, but very thoroughbred rumble of six cylinders. At these moments, you really forget about the not so impressive acceleration data, and the dynamics seem more than sufficient. Especially if you need to brake urgently after acceleration.
Toyota Highlander in the city
In terms of slowing down, Highlander, alas, did not surprise. Like most of the other classmates, this crossover is not in a hurry to stop. Our braking measurements from 100 km / h showed a result of 44 m (on dry asphalt and new standard Toyo tires). In truth, this is quite a lot. For comparison, the Lexus RX stopped at 42 m, and the new BMW X6 was able to stop at 38 m, and we also scolded it for this indicator. What happens if you put five or seven people in the cabin, and even have Luggage?… So just keep in mind how reluctant the Highlander is to slow down: choose a safe speed and distance to the car in front. An alternative is to install a more efficient braking system, which will cost about 3 thousand dollars.
In addition to acceleration and braking dynamics, we also measured the top speed of the Toyota Highlander in this test. On the high-speed straight, the test car showed 188 km / h, but I got the impression that the car hit this mark like a wall. It seems that the engine can provide 200 km / h. But that’s not even what matters. The fact is that the last generation was driven quite unpredictably at top speeds, especially when changing lanes. The new Highlander on handling at high speed was a cut above its predecessor. Although the comfortable speed for driving on this crossover is still in the range of 150-160 km/h. Under these conditions, the car goes very stable, however, as before, a little “sail”.
Toyota Highlander road behavior
And this generation of crossover impresses with the level of noise isolation (unexpected by the standards of the “non-trivial” Japanese automobile industry). At speed, only a very small amount of wind noise is felt from the side mirrors. Yes, double side Windows were added to the acoustic windshield, but it seems that this is not the end of the matter.
While driving, the noise from the asphalt is almost not heard, and shocks and vibrations from small irregularities are extinguished in this car almost the same way as in the Lexus RX. Perhaps this result was given by the promised increase in body stiffness by engineers, or maybe they just “stuffed” kilograms of sound insulation materials here. But it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that now the Highlander is practically not inferior in acoustic comfort even to German cars, for example, the same Volkswagen Touareg.
The second important advantage of this car, of course, is the new suspension. The past generation of Highlander was generally considered soft. The suspension then dampened road surges well, but on 19-inch wheels, the car transmitted a lot of shaking to the salon on fine shagreen and primer. At the same time, the crossover was frankly smooth and mediocre managed by too light a steering wheel, which sometimes also snacked. Now the largest wheels are 20-inch, but even on them the crossover has become even more comfortable. The range of vibrations transmitted to the body has significantly narrowed. On most road surfaces, the car rides softly and quietly, while rolls and swings certainly did not become more.
Now the electric power was moved to the steering rack and, in fact, made a little heavier. These changes are enough to confidently drive the car in most normal situations. So now the Highlander settings, even for those who are used to the high standards of the German car industry, will not seem too losing.
Toyota Highlander off-road
Previously, we had a Lexus RX on the test. It was praised for its quiet interior and suspension comfort. So, the Highlander in terms of suspension softness is only slightly inferior to it. At the same time, Toyota is controlled more clearly, but at the same time, it is not necessary to check the limits of its chassis capabilities. Unless, of course, you want to meet with the proprietary ESP settings from this Japanese brand, which, as always, leave much to be desired.
The main note to ESP is a certain instability of its operation. Sometimes, with the minimum desire of the driver to slip slightly in a turn, the system is too much reinsured and excessively “strangles” the engine. At the same time, somewhere else, the stability control system may just let the car float freely, which is probably even worse. As a result, there is a desire to simply turn off the ESP and rely only on yourself and the suspension, which, unlike the electronic assistant, is quite predictable. But if you drive slowly (like the average Toyota owner), adhering to safety rules, then, of course, all claims to the car are dissolved in a second.
On the roads
We’ve already tested the previous generation Highlander off the asphalt before. We had some pretty serious comments about it at the time. First, the car did not know how to deal with diagonal hanging and wheel slippage. And secondly, the body did not have enough rigidity for the trunk to close when the crossover was hung out.
Toyota Highlander diagonal hanging
Now Japanese engineers say that the Highlander’s body has become much more rigid. In addition, we also worked with cross-country traffic. And 19 cm of ground clearance for this generation of off-road crossover should be enough to cope with the tasks that were beyond the power of its predecessor.
Toyota Highlander clearance
Now the rear axle of the crossover (in the more expensive Premium version) has two separate clutches. They were assigned the task of correctly distributing the torque between the wheels, not only to improve handling, but also to combat slippage when hanging out. In addition, it is now possible to activate separate modes of operation of electronics on different types of coating.
Immediately it is worth noting that driving off-road for Highlander is not the best idea, because it has a fairly large wheelbase, long overhangs and not” pradovskie ” suspension moves. Nevertheless, the evolution in terms of cross – country ability is obvious: with those tasks that the previous Highlander was not up to the teeth, the current one coped really without problems. With a fairly serious diagonal hanging, when the rear wheel is already quite high, the trunk lid opens and closes without any problems. As a result, statements about increased body rigidity and improved cross-country ability were confirmed in practice.
Interior: front row
Of course, the interior of the new Highlander noticeably prettier. The design is well thought out, and many elements are pleasing both in terms of materials and functionality. It is worth noting the new and really premium design of the chairs. There is a large display on the dashboard that goes under the wells, a really high-quality projection on the windshield is implemented, and good acoustics with a JBL subwoofer are installed. On the rotary controls “climate” appeared temperature readings (in the spirit of German cars). The interior has a lot of soft plastics, there is an imitation of stitching on the front panel, and the door upholstery is of high quality. The panoramic roof will delight passengers with two rows of seats, and the multimedia system boasts Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Toyota Highlander interior
On the other hand, there are many elements in the Highlander cabin that you can find fault with almost indefinitely. Unlike the American market, a large twelve-inch touch screen with advanced functionality is not available to us. Therefore, we have to settle for only an eight-inch, through which the “multimedia” Toyota Touch 2 is implemented. The same system is installed on the RAV4 model. Instead of sensors that not everyone likes, there are hard buttons and”twists”. Everything works quite quickly and clearly… But this “clear” comes only after carefully reading the instructions. Because to manage a number of functions, you have to do a few really unnecessary manipulations.
You can not pass by the huge red indicator, which is so striking. It is located to the right of the monitor and serves to inform the driver about unfastened seat belts on the second and third rows. There are a number of questions about this indicator. First, why is it located in the most prominent place? Secondly, why did they decide to draw it this way and why does it all glow bright red? And in General, how do German cars do without such “super-important” security elements? Of course, Japanese engineers think otherwise, so these questions will remain unanswered. Over time, this indicator becomes annoying, so you just want to take it and stick it with something.
Toyota Highlander multimedia
As for the front seats, they not only look better, but they are also well designed for drivers with high growth (for example, 1.93 m, like me). Landing here is more convenient than, for example, in a Prado or Land Cruiser 200. The steering wheel has a good range of adjustments, so getting in the driver’s seat even for long trips is not a problem. Old buttons from the nineties are no longer found here. Therefore, fans of the brand can be calm: the interior design of Toyota is gradually improving, but ergonomics does not touch.
For all-round cameras in a car for 60 thousand dollars, I would like a better resolution. On the other hand, it is good that they are here at all, and in General, comments on their work are not critical. The traditional Highlander armrest with a huge niche at the bottom remained in place. There are five USB ports scattered around the cabin.
The crossover is also equipped with the latest generation of Toyota safety systems, which includes active cruise control, a traffic assistant, a steering system and obstacle recognition, as well as Parking sensors with automatic braking.
Toyota Highlander door trim
Previously, we often reproached Toyota cars for rather ” oak ” plastics in the cabin. Now there are more high-quality soft materials, much more pleasant to the touch than its predecessor. However, I have the impression that the structure of those plastics that are still rigid has changed: they seem to have become more elastic.
But the main thing is that Toyota (at least for this model Highlander) has changed the approach to the Assembly of the cabin. I managed to remove the air deflector to the driver’s left without much effort. A slight movement and I have it in my hands. It seems like it was meant to be. After the deflector, I managed to “crank” a few more details – I also managed to remove them without much effort. It was also not difficult to install the elements in place, because they are all equipped with reusable clips.
Toyota Highlander seats
What should I do about it? On the one hand, all these elements do not “live their own life”: they do not fall off and do not make unpleasant sounds. On the contrary, many of the parts I shot are additionally finished with noise-and vibration-absorbing materials. On the other hand, there may be an opinion that attention to detail and Assembly in a car for 60 thousand dollars (and even in Toyota, which is famous for its quality) should be more. Perhaps the whole point is that the test Highlander, even if developed by the Japanese, was assembled in the United States for the European market (as we found out by checking the VIN code of the car).
Interior: second and third row
The rear row of the Toyota Highlander can give a head start to many competitors, and in General this car can play the role of a business Shuttle. And there are a number of reasons for this. First, for the second-row passengers, everything you need is available, that is, there is no less comfort in the back than in the front. There is a separate climate control, USB ports, heated seats, curtains on the side Windows, a wide armrest, a panoramic roof over your head, as well as separate air vents from above. But most importantly-very comfortable chairs. Let me remind you that the Highlander is not a frame car, so there is plenty of space for height here.
Toyota Highlander second row of seats
There is a lot of free leg space, even if I sit down “by myself”. The seat backs can recline almost in a recumbent position (unlike the same Mercedes-Benz CLS of the latest generation). At the same time, the tilt of the same backs does not allow you to move down, as happens in many cars. There is no ventilation in the back row (even for a surcharge). But we can absolutely say that the implementation of the second row of Toyota Highlander should be considered one of the best cars not only in this class, but in General among all crossovers.
Given the seven-seat interior of the Highlander, the third-row theme can not be avoided. Moreover, the presence of additional seats can be one of the main arguments in favor of buying this particular crossover. After all, the Volkswagen Touareg, for example, is only two-row, and the Volvo XC90 not all versions are equipped with additional seats. Of course, I would not recommend climbing into the third row as a tall passenger. But even “by myself” I managed to sit down so that my knees did not touch the back of the second row. There is really more space here, because the total length of the car has increased by 76 mm, and the wheelbase has increased by 60 mm. There are two Cup holders, deflectors and a ceiling light available (but they forgot about USB charging). So the third row in this crossover can be considered relatively complete not only for children, but also for adult passengers.
Toyota Highlander third row of seats
Toyota Highlander is only three-row, but there is still free space in the trunk. Engineers say that the space for Luggage has become one and a half times more than it was in the previous generation. If the third row of seats laid out, but the backrest upright, the Luggage compartment of 330 l, and if the back in favor of more comfort for third-row passengers tilt, will have 270 HP In theory, you can put five suitcases here for hand Luggage. Yes, this is not enough to go on vacation all together – you will have to use the box on the roof. But for five travelers, the trunk will seem huge.
In the trunk there is a small hard raised floor, under it there is an organizer, which hides a curtain, a Jack and a set of tools. The spare tire is fixed under the bottom – to remove it, you need to Unscrew the screw.
Toyota Highlander trunk
The Luggage compartment has some features that are really surprising. First, there is a separate air conditioner in the “climate” zone of the second and third rows. But it is hidden behind the lid, which is easily snapped off (and behind it there is an open niche). For what purpose did they leave a separate hatch for this niche? If you can put something in it, the engineers should mention some restrictions or at least cover it with some material. If the niche is not intended for this purpose, then it would be more reliable to fix such hatches. And there are several such technical holes in the trunk.
The trunk lid inside is covered with a ringing plastic, which is easily scratched. Yes, this solution is traditional for Toyota, but it is not a sin to want softer and “noble” materials on the trunk lid in a car for 60 thousand dollars. On the other hand, it’s not a Lexus… Although here everything is not so clear.
Toyota Highlander in the Premium configuration today is even more expensive than the basic configuration of the Lexus RX 300. And so this comparison is quite relevant now. Prices for the Lexus RX 300 start at $ 55,000 for the Business version. For 63 thousand, you can already purchase the Executive+configuration. At the same time, the 2.0-liter Lexus engine provides almost the same dynamics as the Highlander’s V6 3.5. Even though the RX is built on an earlier platform and is easier to complete, it is still more premium in small things. In this comparison, there are only a few arguments in favor of choosing Highlander. First of all, this is the presence of a third row of seats. In addition, Toyota has a more technologically advanced all-wheel drive system. And from the point of view of design, we can talk about a more brutal image of the “male” car in Highlander.
There are not many direct competitors for the Toyota Highlander in our market. Among them, we can only mention the Mazda CX-9, Infiniti QX60 and Honda Pilot. At the same time, all of them are cheaper today and nominally offer no less options. But if you look at sales last year, it turns out that each of these crossovers bought worse than even the previous Highlander. If everything is clear with the outdated Infiniti crossover and, to put it mildly, not the most beautiful Honda crossover, then I think the Mazda CX-9 is simply an undervalued model.
If you choose a seven-seat crossover, with such a budget, you can pay attention to the promotional special versions of the Volvo XC90 or Land Rover Discovery 5. If you are satisfied with more compact diesel options, you should look at the Korean crossovers Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento.
But the real competition for Highlander in our market will not be them, but two other Toyota models: Land Cruiser Prado and Land Cruiser 200. Both the first with a 4.0-liter engine and the second with a 4.6-liter engine accelerates approximately the same as the test Highlander. In addition, they all have very close prices, which is why their competition is so dangerous for Highlander.
The land Cruiser 200 SUV in the basic version of Elegance costs a little more than 61 thousand dollars. If you pay another 2 thousand, you can get a car with a 4.5-liter diesel engine, and this is a completely different story. Toyota LC Prado with a 4.0-liter engine in the basic configuration will cost 42 thousand dollars. But if you buy a Prado in the Premium configuration (like our Highlander), it will be $ 700 cheaper than the test crossover. Looking ahead, I must say that between the Highlander and the “two hundred” I would choose a larger SUV. But if you choose between Prado and Highlander, I would prefer a newer model.
If you compare car interiors, the Land Cruiser 200 already offers a leather finish in the basic configuration. The interior is also finished with soft plastics. At the same time, of course, it is worth Recalling that the Land Cruiser 200 is almost indifferent to different road surfaces. It will perform better off-road and, of course, it has a well-established image. On the other hand, the Land Cruiser 200 is a frame car, and it will never be as comfortable in the city as the Highlander can be.
The handling of the “two hundred” is much worse than that of the Highlander. Due to the fact that the frame is under your feet, it is not so convenient to sit in the LC200 cabin (although the cars are similar in length, and the “two hundred” is also much higher). The second row of passenger amenities has everything that is available in the Highlander, with the exception of the panoramic roof. But most importantly, you need to keep in mind that only Highlander can be seven-seat.
Land Cruiser Prado SUV among the three is the most cramped in the cabin. At the same time, it has the best off-road capabilities thanks to a shorter wheelbase. From the point of view of comfort, it loses to the rest: the suspension is the most shaky, and the noise insulation is not the best. If you live in places with very poor road quality, and the safety of the car and its durability is in the first place for you, then your choice is Prado (comfort and equipment just go to second place). For 42 thousand. you get a fabric interior, but even for this money, a separate climate control is available for the rear passengers. It remains only to deal with the power plant, because both the 4.0-liter gasoline engine and the 2.8-liter diesel engine are far from ideal.
If most of the time you drive on asphalt and you do not really need the image of a “brutal big uncle”, and you choose a car based on consumer qualities, then, of course, Highlander is more suitable for you. It has-objectively-a more pleasant design, it is more modern in detail. This crossover is much more comfortable and better controlled. It has better sound insulation, and in the end it’s just newer. In addition, the” bonus ” you get two additional seats for passengers.
In the new generation of Highlander, there is something to find fault with. The multimedia system, apart from the acoustics, raises some questions. The principle of interior Assembly is not entirely clear, and setting up the ESP system seems illogical. By the standards of 2020, fuel consumption is too immodest.
Toyota Highlander side view
On the other hand, we are very pleased with the serious growth in more important areas. For the first time, Toyota is as isolated from noise as German cars. In this indicator, the Highlander has grown by a head, as well as in terms of suspension comfort and handling. In addition, the new Highlander is easier to handle off-road, so the chances of getting stuck on it somewhere in the snow or sand have become much less. It is also worth noting a very spacious interior with a good layout. Even despite some strange plastics, in General, it causes a pleasant impression. We should also mention the most excellent chairs.
Of course, the Highlander is asked for a bit too much in comparison with competitors. But overpaying for a Toyota has never been considered something shameful. I am sure that, as before, many people have a completely different question: “which car of this brand to choose?”. And now there are a lot more arguments in favor of Highlander.