2018 Toyota Highlander Review

The Toyota Highlander is a no-compromise, three-row crossover SUV that brings together the best in style, technology, comfort, capability and safety. Since its release in 2001, it has won multiple awards for value and safety, including a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from NHTSA.

For the efficiency-minded, a Highlander Hybrid is offered in four grades, all of which feature the clever All-Wheel Drive with intelligence (AWD-i) system. Hybrid or not, though, legendary Toyota dependability and a long list of safety features ensure Highlander’s position as one of the best SUVs in the mid-size segment.

The award-winning Highlander and Highlander Hybrid come standard with Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P), Entune™ multimedia and an aggressive exterior design, not to mention available room for up to eight passengers. And with ten trims to choose from, there’s a Highlander for everyone, with Highlander LE offering a highly capable SUV with generous standard equipment and Highlander Limited Platinum delivering cutting-edge technology and a bevy of available luxury options. An available AWD system makes Highlander capable in harsh weather, and safety isn’t a concern with Toyota Safety Sense™4 and Star Safety System™ as standard equipment on all models. Since its introduction in 2001, Highlander has defined what a mid-size SUV should be. The 2018 Highlander is no exception.


Starting MSRP $31,230

Key Features

  • Five total USB ports
  • Entune™ Audio
  • Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P)

As the entry trim in the lineup, Highlander LE combines SUV utility with generous standard equipment like eight-passenger seating and numerous safety and convenience features.

LE Plus
Starting MSRP $35,660

Key Features

  • Stop and Start Engine System
  • Three-zone automatic climate control
  • Integrated fog lights

LE Plus improves on the LE trim by adding useful comfort and convenience features. LE Plus also introduces the model’s 3.5-liter V6 engine and available all-wheel-drive system.

Starting MSRP $39,120

Key Features

  • Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • SofTex®-trimmed 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seat
  • Smart Key System with Push Button Start

Highlander XLE takes the feature list a step further, offering the great standard safety features from the LE and LE Plus and adds driver convenience and in-cabin technology.

Starting MSRP $40,290

Key Features

  • LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
  • 19-in. machined-face alloy wheels with black finish
  • Dark-painted roof rails

With its unique interior and exterior appointments, Highlander SE is the perfect choice for buyers looking for the ideal blend between the practicality of an SUV and the exciting looks of a sports car.

Starting MSRP $42,280

Key Features

  • Rear Parking Assist Sonar
  • Heated power outside mirrors with memory
  • Integrated backup camera with dynamic gridlines

Highlander Limited takes refined luxury and modern convenience a substantial step forward, thanks to its impressive list of high-tech driver assistance features.

Limited Platinum
Starting MSRP $45,400

Key Features

  • Panoramic moonroof
  • Safety Connect®
  • Bird's Eye View Camera

With Limited Platinum, the Highlander experience is second to none. From connected safety to plush interior appointments, it offers the most advanced features available in the lineup.

Hybrid LE
Starting MSRP $36,870

Key Features

  • Electronic On-Demand AWD system with intelligence (AWD-i)
  • Hybrid blue accent badges
  • Integrated backup camera with projected path

Highlander Hybrid LE takes the generous standard equipment found on Highlander LE and combines it with an efficient hybrid V6 engine and a standard AWD-i drivetrain.

Hybrid XLE
Starting MSRP $41,930

Key Features

  • Entune™ Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation
  • Leather-trimmed front and second-row seats
  • Driver Easy Speak

Highlander Hybrid XLE builds on Hybrid LE’s standard feature list and adds noteworthy comfort and convenience equipment throughout its spacious three-row cabin.

Hybrid Limited
Starting MSRP $45,360

Key Features

  • 19-inch Chromtec alloy wheels
  • Blue LED ambient lighting
  • Perforated heated and ventilated front row seats

With high-style appointments like LED lighting and flashy wheels, Highlander Hybrid Limited makes it clear that it’s a high-end trim designed to stand out from the crowd.

Hybrid Limited Platinum
Starting MSRP $48,480

Key Features

  • Blind Spot Monitor1 with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Entune™ Premium JBL® Audio

Hybrid Limited Platinum is truly the complete package, featuring a premium assortment of the great safety, comfort and convenience technology available in the Highlander lineup.

Competitive Comparison

Reliable and Efficient
Highlander offers multiple engine and transmission pairings, all of which offer impressive power and efficiency. These include a 185-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder that drives the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 295 horsepower and is paired with a Direct Shift 8AT 8-speed automatic transmission that can be configured to drive all four wheels. Both engines feature D-4S direct injection. Highlander Hybrid is equipped with a unique 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson Cycle engine and Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT).

Multimedia for the Masses
Highlander’s spacious cabin features two 12V power outlets and five USB ports standard. Heated and ventilated seats are available on Limited and Limited Platinum trims, along with a 120V auxiliary power outlet. Its Entune™ multimedia systems make it easy to stream music from connected devices, while the available JBL® audio system will ensure it sounds great.

Comprehensive Safety
Like all Toyota models, safety is a priority on Highlander. This midsize crossover SUV has a long list of safety features – eight airbags, Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P) and Star Safety System™ are standard across all trims. Premium features like Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Front and Rear Parking Assist Sonar are also available on select trims.

Ample Towing
When equipped with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, all non-hybrid Highlander models offer towing capacity of 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. This impressive towing figure allows drivers to be prepared for any adventure that awaits, whether it's hauling a trailer to a new home or bringing a boat to the lake.

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