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2011 Toyota Highlander Limited (photos)

The Toyota Highlander is a comfortable SUV with moderate tech. It covers most basic features, but does not reach for the cutting edge. But it is an easy driver with a lot of capacity.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 20 Josh Miller/CNET
Toyota restyled its Highlander model for the 2011 model year, changing the grille design. Underneath, the car is little changed, featuring the same V-6 as the previous generation. However, Toyota offers a new four-cylinder engine in lesser trim models.

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This new grille might herald a new design language for Toyota SUVs and trucks, but the company has never been big on using common styling across its lineup.

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The 3.5-liter V-6 only produces 270 horsepower, but gets the Highlander moving satisfactorily. Its EPA-rated fuel economy is good, but in testing we found it didn't live up to those numbers.

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In Limited trim, the Highlander has three rows of seats to hold seven people.

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The ride quality of the Highlander is good for its purpose, firm enough without being painful.

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The cargo area of the Highlander is not as large as some other SUVs, but the seats fold down for extra space.

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Leather and faux wood trim cover the cabin in the Limited-trim Highlander.

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The Highlander uses an electric power steering unit, which should help its fuel economy. Toyota tuned it mostly for a luxury feel, giving it plenty of power assist for turning the big wheels.

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The gauges sit in deep tunnels, helping avoid glare.

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The Highlander uses a five-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual modes. These modes are best used on hills to help maximize engine power.

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The four-wheel-drive system has a snow mode and descent control, the latter used for crawling down slippery hills.

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Toyota includes temp and voice command controls on the right steering wheel spoke.

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Audio and telephone controls sit on the left spoke.

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Toyota uses attractive graphics on its destination entry screen.

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The navigation system gets traffic data from satellite radio, and uses it to dynamically route around bad jams.

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The phone system includes a contact database, making it easy to find phone numbers.

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Satellite radio is one of the audio sources in the Highlander. The interface focuses on the presets, forcing you to find new stations by turning the tuning dial.

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The iPod integration worked much better than in other Toyota and Lexus models we've seen, quickly populating the screen with artist and album names.

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A premium nine-speaker JBL audio system in the Highlander offers better than average sound quality.

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The rearview camera is basic, merely showing the view from the bumper, not showing distance or trajectory lines.

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