Toyota's Highlander has grown from one of the original mid-size crossovers into a three-row champion of its segment. Offering an occasional-use sixth and seventh seat, a wide range of options including a hybrid model, and loaded with family-friendly features, this is a popular model for Toyota. This latest generation was launched in 2020, so is also one of the newer vehicles in the segment.
The 2021 Highlander is just one year old, so Toyota hasn't revolutionised the model this year. That said, it hasn't sat stagnant either and Toyota has upgraded all models to Safety Sense 2.5+ which has added left turn intersection support and pedestrian detection. It also has curve speed management for the adaptive cruise as well as emergency steering assistance. There is also a new XSE sporty trim level with unique suspension tuning, second-row captain's chairs, and an XSE-specific nose and rear bodywork.
Toyota offers the Highlander in 10 trim levels, with six using the standard 3.5L V6 and the other four a 2.5L hybrid system. L is the only front-drive trim, LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum are all all-wheel drive. On the hybrid side, all are AWD and include LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum.
L starts with heated front seats and power driver seat, with cloth interior. It has a 4.2-inch digital dash display and an 8.0-inch display audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The L also has 18-inch alloys, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert, plus smart-key entry, push-button start, and LED headlights.
LE adds AWD as well as multi-terrain drive modes. It includes satellite radio as well as Toyota Safety Connect connectivity. XLE adds Safety and Service Connect, SofTex leatherette seating, power passenger seat, moonroof, and power liftgate. It also has a 7.0-inch dash display.
Highlander XSE is equipped like the XLE but adds sport-tuned suspension, second-row captain's chairs, 20-inch wheel, black roof rails and mirror caps, and XSE-specific bodywork.
Limited is equipped like XLE but then adds 1,200-watt JBL premium audio, Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD, navigation, leather-trimmed seats (heated and ventilated in the front), heated wheel, wireless charging, panoramic roof, premium LED lights, and hands-free hatch. Safety systems include clearance sonar with rear cross traffic braking.
Platinum adds a 12.3-inch display audio system, Platinum-specific wheels, heated second row, digital rear view mirror, head-up display, and rain sensing wipers. It then adds special interior and exterior trimmings.
The hybrid models are equipped like their gas counterparts with the exception of the hybrid driveline.
There are no major options for Highlander outside of trim grade.
Front-drive Highlander is rated for an estimated 11.9 L/100 km city, 8.3 highway, while AWD gas models should achieve 11.9/8.3. The Highlander Hybrid returns an estimated 6.7 L/100 km city, 6.8 highway.
The Highlander is no longer the only hybrid offering in the class as the Ford Explorer offers that driveline, but it is slightly larger. In this class there is also the Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Volkswagen Atlas, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, and Mitsubishi Outlander.