The Ultimate Guide to the Toyota Highlander: Everything You Need to Know


Embarking on the quest for the ideal family SUV might involve navigating a veritable ocean of models. We appreciate just how daunting that can be. However, our thorough exploration of the Toyota Highlander suggests it’s quite the gem in its class.

This guide will explore everything from its commodious seven-seat innards to its environmentally considerate hybrid drive system, designed to equip you with the most pertinent information.

We hope this could lead you to discover your family’s next set of wheels!

Overview of the Toyota Highlander

Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is a midsize crossover with the option of a seven-seat capacity, providing plenty of space for passengers and luggage. Available in various trim levels and powertrain options, it offers a versatile driving experience for all road conditions.

Size and seating capacity

We know space matters, especially for large SUVs like the Toyota Highlander. This vehicle’s substantial size offers a seven-seat capacity that brilliantly accommodates family needs.

It boasts ample room for all passengers, with third-row seating spacious enough for adults and flexible interior options that can be adjusted as needed. Whether you’re ferrying the children to school or heading out on a weekend adventure, everyone rides in comfort.

Opting for the Highlander means never compromising passenger space or cargo capacity. Its clever interior ensures you can fill up all seats and still have room for luggage in the back.

If more space is required, simply fold down the rear seats and transform your cabin into a vast area ready for more oversized loads. For those days under the open sky or starlit evenings, some models even feature a panoramic moonroof, adding an airy ambience to an already generously proportioned cabin.

Available trim levels and powertrain options

Transitioning from the notable size and seating capacity that comfortably accommodates seven passengers, we now delve into the Toyota Highlander’s available trim levels and powertrain options that cater to varied preferences and driving needs. The Highlander provides an array of selections, ensuring every car enthusiast can pinpoint the perfect configuration.

Trim LevelPowertrainKey Features
Highlander Excel2.5L HybridAWD-i, Leather Seats, Panoramic Roof, Smart Entry and Start System
Highlander Excel Premium2.5L HybridHead-Up Display, JBL Sound System, 360-Degree Camera, Heated Steering Wheel

The Highlander’s hybrid powertrain ensures we adhere to a more environmentally conscious approach, providing both efficiency and lower emissions. With the variety of trims, customers can select the level of luxury and technology that suits their lifestyle. From the comfortable and well-equipped Excel to the Excel Premium with its additional luxuries, a Highlander fits into the fabric of everyday life, whether navigating city streets or embarking on long family road trips. Our commitment to safety and value shines through in every model, securing the Highlander’s position as a family SUV of choice.

Driving Experience

When driving the Toyota Highlander, you can expect a powerful and smooth performance whether you’re on city roads, motorways, or curvy roads. The hybrid electric technology also adds an eco-friendly touch to your driving experience.

Performance on city roads, motorways, and curvy roads

The Toyota Highlander delivers a powerful drive on city roads, effortlessly navigating traffic and tight spaces. Its responsive handling makes it equally confident on motorways, providing a smooth and stable ride at higher speeds.

The SUV’s agile performance shines on curvy roads, offering precise steering and minimal body roll for an enjoyable driving experience. With its modern design and sophisticated statement, the Highlander impresses with its versatility across different road conditions.

Equipped with hybrid electric technology options, the Toyota Highlander blends fuel efficiency with solid performance capabilities. This combination ensures eco-friendly driving while maintaining the SUV’s powerful drive on various terrains without compromising power or responsiveness.

Hybrid electric technology

The Toyota Highlander is available as a hybrid SUV, offering a combination of fuel efficiency and eco-friendly driving options. This technology allows for the seamless transition between electric and petrol power, providing an optimal balance of performance and environmental responsibility.

With the ability to drive on electric power alone at low speeds, Highlander’s hybrid electric technology offers smooth acceleration and reduced emissions, making it an attractive choice for those seeking both practicality and sustainability in their vehicle.

Furthermore, the hybrid model boasts impressive specifications with its advanced powertrain system prioritising fuel economy without compromising power. Incorporating this innovative technology into the Toyota Highlander enhances its appeal among car enthusiasts looking for a versatile SUV that delivers exceptional efficiency while minimising its environmental impact.

Safety features

The Toyota Highlander boasts a comprehensive range of safety features that ensure peace of mind for all occupants. Here are some essential safety aspects to consider when looking at the Toyota Highlander:

  1. Advanced driver assistance systems, including lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control, are available in various trim levels, enhancing driving confidence and safety.
  2. A comprehensive airbag system protects occupants in all three rows, providing peace of mind for families and passengers.
  3. The Highlander’s high-strength steel structure and advanced engineering provide robust crash protection and rigidity.
  4. Active safety technologies such as automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection contribute to accident prevention and occupant safety.
  5. The SUV’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system ensures optimal traction and handling in varied road conditions, adding an extra layer of security.
  6. The Highlander’s integrated child safety seat anchor points make it a safe choice for families with young children, ensuring the secure installation of car seats.
  7. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems enhance awareness of the vehicle’s surroundings, reducing the risk of collisions during manoeuvres.

Design and Technology

The Toyota Highlander boasts a stylish exterior design with sleek lines and modern features. Its spacious and comfortable interior includes the latest technology. From its impressive infotainment system to advanced safety features, the Highlander offers a blend of practicality and sophistication for drivers and passengers alike.

Exterior design

The Toyota Highlander boasts a sophisticated and commanding exterior design, making a strong statement on the road. With its bold grille, sleek lines, and modern LED lighting, the Highlander presents a dynamic and upscale presence.

The available trims offer distinct styling elements, such as different wheel designs and chrome accents, allowing buyers to customise their Highlander to match their taste.

The attention to detail in the exterior design reflects the SUV’s premium status in the market.

Featuring eye-catching aesthetics combined with practicality for everyday use, the Toyota Highlander is designed to make an impression while offering functionality for families on the go.

Interior features

The Toyota Highlander’s interior is designed with a focus on comfort and versatility. The seven-seat capacity, including third-row seating, provides ample space for passengers or cargo as needed.

With various trim levels available, the interior features are customisable to suit different preferences. High-quality materials and thoughtful design contribute to a premium feel throughout the cabin.

The infotainment system offers user-friendly controls and connectivity options, while advanced safety features provide peace of mind for drivers and passengers alike. As one of Toyota’s flagship SUVs, the Highlander’s interior reflects practicality without compromising on style or modern conveniences.

Infotainment and accessories

The Toyota Highlander offers a wide range of infotainment and accessories, catering to diverse preferences. The high-tech interior features include an intuitive touchscreen interface that provides easy access to entertainment, navigation, and vehicle settings.

Additionally, the available premium JBL audio system delivers exceptional sound quality for an immersive driving experience. For added convenience, the SUV comes equipped with multiple USB ports for device charging and connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Furthermore, the Toyota Highlander boasts various accessories to enhance functionality and style. Optional add-ons such as all-weather floor mats and cargo organisers provide practical solutions for maintaining a clean interior and optimising storage space.

Moreover, roof rack cross bars offer versatility for carrying sports gear or additional luggage during family outings or road trips. From advanced technology to customisable enhancements, the Toyota Highlander ensures a modern driving experience tailored to individual needs.

Cost and Practicality

The Toyota Highlander offers a good balance of fuel efficiency, emissions, and tax costs. Its spacious interior and reliability make it a practical choice for families or those who frequently travel with passengers and luggage.

Read on to discover more about this versatile SUV!

MPG, emissions, and tax

The Toyota Highlander offers competitive fuel efficiency, with its hybrid model standing out for its eco-friendly driving options. The vehicle’s MPG ratings make it an attractive choice for those conscious of emissions and tax costs. As a result, the Highlander strikes a balance between performance and environmental responsibility, appealing to discerning car buyers seeking practical and economical transportation solutions.

Space and practicality for passengers and luggage

When considering the space and practicality for passengers and luggage, the Toyota Highlander stands out with its flexible interior and full seven-seat capacity. This makes it an ideal choice for families or those who prioritise ample passenger space.

The third-row seating provides additional room for passengers, while also allowing flexibility to accommodate larger items when needed. In terms of usability, the Highlander offers a convenient layout that caters to both passengers and cargo, making it a practical option for daily use or long journeys.

Furthermore, the Toyota Highlander’s emphasis on interior design ensures comfort and convenience in a spacious cabin. It allows ample legroom for all occupants without compromising on storage options.

Reliability and potential problems

The Toyota Highlander boasts impressive reliability and value, but it’s important to be aware of potential issues that may arise. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. The hybrid version has been praised for its fuel efficiency, however, the battery and related components may require costly repairs over time.
  2. Some owners have reported issues with the infotainment system, including freezing or touchscreen malfunctions.
  3. Brake problems have been cited by a small number of owners, with complaints about premature wear and noisy operation.
  4. Regular maintenance is crucial for the Highlander’s longevity, especially with the complex hybrid powertrain in certain models.
  5. While the Highlander has a strong reputation for reliability, like any vehicle, it’s important to stay informed about potential recalls and technical service bulletins to address any emerging issues promptly.
  6. Transmission problems have been minimal, but some drivers have noted occasional rough shifting or delays in response.
  7. The advanced safety features offered in newer models have generally performed well; however, a small number of owners have reported occasional sensor malfunctions.
  8. Ensuring timely servicing and promptly addressing any warning lights or unusual sounds can help prevent potential issues from becoming major headaches.

Toyota Highlander Through the Years

From its first generation in 2000 to the current fourth generation, the Toyota Highlander has undergone significant changes and improvements. With different versions, such as the Hybrid, FCHV, and a Chinese version, there’s a lot to learn about this popular SUV.

First generation (2000-2007)

The first generation of the Toyota Highlander, launched from 2000 to 2007, marked the SUV’s debut in the UK market. Offering a spacious and comfortable cabin with third-row seating, it quickly gained popularity among families seeking a reliable seven-seater option.

With its robust build and powerful drive, this initial iteration of the Highlander established its reputation for durability and performance. The range also offered safety features that appealed to buyers focused on quality and value.

Transitioning into 2007-2013 second-generation models revealed further enhancements, including increased fuel efficiency and modern technology integration. This evolution laid the foundation for future versions with improved capabilities and advanced design elements.

Second generation (2007-2013)

The Toyota Highlander entered its second generation in 2007 and continued until 2013. This phase brought significant updates, including a larger body and enhanced capabilities. The seven-seat SUV became even more family-friendly with added space and comfort for long journeys.

Additionally, the range of available features expanded during this period, offering buyers more choices to customise their vehicles according to their preferences.

In terms of performance, the second-generation Toyota Highlander saw improvements in powertrain options and fuel efficiency compared to its predecessor. Notably, this era also introduced hybrid electric technology within the line-up, providing eco-friendly driving options for environmentally conscious buyers.

These upgrades further cemented the Highlander’s reputation as a versatile and reliable family SUV.

Moving into design advancements, the exterior underwent a redesign, giving it a sleeker appearance while maintaining its practicality on city roads or rugged terrains. Innovative interior features were introduced to enhance passenger comfort and convenience during daily use.

These updates, and ongoing reliability, make pre-owned models from this period an attractive option for those seeking value in the used car market.

Third generation (2013-2019)

The third generation of the Toyota Highlander, from 2013 to 2019, saw significant upgrades and improvements. It featured a sleeker exterior design with enhanced aerodynamics and a more spacious interior, offering third-row seating for added passenger capacity.

The hybrid version was introduced in this generation, catering to eco-conscious drivers. Safety features were also bolstered during this period, making the Highlander an even more secure choice for families on the road.

This iteration of the Toyota Highlander showcased advancements in technology and convenience, incorporating modern infotainment systems and user-friendly accessories. With its reliable performance on city roads and highways and its flexibility as a seven-seater SUV, this generation solidified the Highlander’s position as a top contender in its class.

Fourth generation (2019-present)

The fourth generation of the Toyota Highlander, which debuted in 2019, continues to impress with its spacious seven-seat capacity and third-row seating, making it an ideal choice for families or anyone needing extra space.

This iteration also showcases the latest advancements in design and technology, featuring a sophisticated exterior look and high-tech interior features catering to style and functionality.

Additionally, for those focused on eco-friendly driving options, the hybrid electric technology offered in this generation appeals to environmentally conscious buyers who seek fuel efficiency without compromising performance.

Specific versions (Hybrid, FCHV, Chinese version)

Now, let’s delve into the specific versions of the Toyota Highlander, offering diverse options to meet varying needs and preferences:

  1. The Hybrid version combines a powerful V6 engine with an electric motor, delivering impressive fuel efficiency without compromising performance.
  2. The Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) variant is an eco-friendly option. It runs on hydrogen fuel cells and emits only water vapour as a byproduct.
  3. The Chinese version of the Highlander boasts unique design elements tailored to appeal to the preferences of the Chinese market, showcasing cultural influences in its aesthetic and features.


In conclusion, the Toyota Highlander is a versatile and popular SUV in the UK market. Its spacious interior and seven-seat capacity make it an ideal choice for families seeking comfort and practicality.

With its range of trim levels, advanced technology, and strong safety features, the Highlander stands out as a reliable and stylish option for family-oriented vehicle buyers.

Whether considering a new or used model, the Toyota Highlander offers impressive value, performance, and flexibility for various driving needs.


1. What seating options does the Toyota Highlander offer?

The Toyota Highlander boasts a seven-seat capacity with convenient third-row seating, ideal for family trips or group travel.

2. Can I still buy a new Toyota Highlander if discontinued?

If the model is discontinued, you might not find brand-new versions, but you can look on Autotrader UK for high-quality used Highlanders.

3. Where can I find a detailed review of the Toyota Highlander?

Motoring magazines and car review websites offer in-depth reviews and comparisons of the Toyota Highlander’s features and performance.

4. How does the Toyota Highlander compare to other seven-seat vehicles?

The ultimate guide provides comparison details highlighting how the Highlander stands out in terms of space, comfort, and reliability against other seven-seat competitors.


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