The 2018 Toyota Highlander is a solid, comfortable ride for up to eight passengers. With and abundance of safety features, it is just the right size SUV with an available third-row.
With six models to choose from, the LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited and Limited Platinum.
The only potential negative in the LE is its four-cylinder engine. It has a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. You can opt for the 3.5-liter V6 that is standard on the other trims, to avoid a sluggish start, that would be my preference. I also would enjoy the SE for the sportiness factor, with 19-inch wheels, LED running lights and a sporty interior.
The hybrid is another option as well. The hybrid has a 3.5-liter V6 engine combined with an electric motor. Additionally all Highlander Hybrids are AWD.
The LE Plus has the V6 engine plus a power lift gate, power-adjustable driver seat, a leather wrapped steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, foglights, upgraded interior, an 8-inch touchscreen with smartphone connection apps as well as satellite and HD radio.
Moving up to the XLE model and you get a sunroof, roof rails, leather interior, heated front seats, a power adjustable passenger seat, keyless entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, sunshade for the second row, a 110-volt power outlet, and a slew of safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert systems, and a navigation system.
The Limited has all of the XLE features plus, LED running lights, driver-seat memory settings, rear parking sensors, a rear cargo cover and a fabulous 12-speaker JBL audio system.
The Limited and Limited Platinum give you the option of adding a rear entertainment system.
The Limited Platinum provides a panoramic sunroof, front parking sensors, automatic wipers, and a 360-degree parking camera.
I found that the Toyota Highlander was easy to get around town in, and with decent fuel economy coming in at 29 mpg/city 27 mpg/highway for a combined 28 mpg. I took the SUV for a quick trip down I-35 to Austin, the Highlander provided a confident ride in and around the city. Feeling very stable on the highway, the Highlander shifted smoothly and responded reasonably.
I have to mention a couple of favorites, part of the confidence in driving the Highlander comes from Toyota equipping each vehicle with their Safety Sense bundle. Toyota’s Safety Sense includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure with steering assist, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams.
I also am a fan of the interior, the Highlander has a one-of-a-kind shelf that is built in on the dashboard, a handy place to set your phone or other small items like sunshades. The dash itself was well planned. It has a two tier look that is isn’t just for looks, it’s functional with lots of storage. Choice storage for me was the space under the armrest, plenty big enough for my laptop. Several places to charge were convenient too. The interior is clean and roomy.
As mentioned the Highland is an eight passenger SUV but if you choose those captain chairs in the second row, that number is reduced to seven. Unless you need seating for eight, the captain chairs just make sense, definitely making it easy to get to third row seating.
That third row is great for kids but adults probably would feel punished if you sat them back there for a road trip of any distance.
The Highlander is also equipped with ‘Driver Easy Speak,’ which has a built in microphone up front that picks up your voice and transmits it to the passengers in the back.
Cargo space isn’t too shabby with the third row up, around 14 cubic feet, fold the third row up and that space increases to 42 cubic feet. If you need to haul anything of significance, go ahead and fold up that second row too, for 83 cubic feet.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid that I test drove is a functional family vehicle that prices out at $49,499.