The Toyota Highlander has been on sale in the US since 2001, entering its third generation in 2013. Toyota's midsize, three-row crossover SUV received its last major update in 2016, so not much is new for 2019. The Highlander is built in Princeton, Indiana alongside the Sienna minivan and the Sequoia full-size SUV.
This model overview concerns the gas-only Highlander. The Highlander Hybrid is a different model.
Powertrain and specs
The Highlander is offered with a choice of two engines beginning with a 2.7-liter four cylinder with 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The four-cylinder is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power exclusively to the front wheels. The inline-four's output falls on the low end of the segment and so does its fuel economy at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg highway.
With up to 21/27 city/highway mpg, you can get better fuel economy with the 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. The six-cylinder is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission connected to front- or all-wheel drive. The V6 Highlander's power and fuel economy are more competitive within the three-row, midsize crossover class.
Interior and towing
There's enough room inside the Highlander for up to eight occupants. Cargo capacity is 13.8 cubic feet behind the third row, 42.3 cubic feet behind the second row and 83.7 cubic feet behind the first row. The Highlander's maximum cargo capacity is greater than those of the Ford Explorer (81.7) and Nissan Pathfinder (79.5), but less than those of the Chevrolet Traverse (98.2), Honda Pilot (83.9) and Volkswagen Atlas (96.8).
Just like most other vehicles in the class, you can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the Highlander. Only the Nissan Pathfinder offers a little extra towing capacity with its 6,000-pound rating.
The Highlander is behind the times when it comes to tech. Most competitors offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. You can't even option the Highlander with that level of smartphone mirroring, but it does come standard with a 4.2-inch LCD instrument cluster display along with a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Siri Eyes Free, a six-speaker stereo and five USB ports.
Toyota is much more generous with its standard driver-assistance features. All Highlanders get the Toyota Safety Sense suite of technology, which bundles collision-mitigation braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.
Options and pricing
Base prices across the Highlander's five trims begin at $31,330 and top out at $42,430 plus $1,045 for destination. The Base Highlander LE comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights and heated power outside mirrors. Inside, there are second and third-row HVAC vents, cloth seat upholstery, reclining second- and third-row seating in addition to second-row sliding seats.
The $36,260 LE Plus adds gunmetal gray 18-inch wheels, fog lights, stop/start for the V6 engine, a flip-up rear hatch window inside the power liftgate, three-zone automatic climate control, a power driver's seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen, HD and satellite radio, plus blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
At $39,220, the XLE adds trim-specific 18-inch wheels, roof rails, a sunroof, keyless access with push-button start, embedded navigation, an autodimming rearview mirror, HomeLink transceiver, leather seat upholstery, heated front seats, a power front passenger seat and second-row captain's chairs. The $40,440 SE trim features black 19-inch wheels, sport suspension, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and LED ambient lighting for the interior.
Finally, the $42,430 Highlander Limited includes trim-specific 19-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, auto down/up for all power windows, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front-row seats and a 12-speaker JBL.
The Limited is also available with a Platinum Package that bumps the price up to $45,550 and includes rain-sensing wipers, a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera, a heated steering wheel and heated second-row seating.
The 2019 Toyota Highlander is on sale at dealerships nationwide now.