As far as three-row crossovers go, Toyota’s Highlander is difficult to ignore. The third-generation ‘ute makes for a mighty fine family transportation device with a spacious cabin that can seat seven or eight. Plenty of storage spots and cubbies help to keep the interior organized, and there are more luxury and creature comforts than ever.
What hasn’t changed is the Highlander’s ethos: comfort, reliability, and ease of use. Much the same can be said about the powertrains, which include a 3.5-litre V6 and a Hybrid option. The standard V6 makes 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque, and is good to tow up to 5,000 lbs. All but the base LE get standard AWD. The V6 FWD uses 12.5 L/100 km city, 9.3 L/100 km highway; the V6 AWD uses 13.0 city, 9.8 highway. The Highlander Hybrid also uses a 3.5-litre V6, but gets a CVT and dual electric motors instead. Total system output is 280 net hp, and Transport Canada rates it at 8.6 L/100 km city, and 8.5 L/100 km highway – better than some midsize sedans. It can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
Equipment levels have changed only slightly for 2016. Most models now receive a standard tonneau cover to keep prying eyes out of the cargo bay, while the Hybrid Limited gets rain-sensing front wipers. All Highlanders come with automatic headlamps, cruise control, reverse camera, display audio system, and V6 power. Hybrids add tri-zone climate control, proximity key with push-button start, too.
The new 2016 Highlander will set buyers back $33,555 for the front-drive LE, up to $47,180 for the top-zoot Limited AWD. The Hybrid ranges from $45,955 for the LE to a Lexus-like $55,160 for the Limited.