For those looking for a steady, no-nonsense family sport utility vehicle that requires minimal upkeep, last awhile, and not break the bank, the 2023 Toyota Highlander should be at or near the top of your shopping list.
Highlander comes in 23 trims and configurations, providing a multitude of choices for any family to dial into its specific needs, starting at $36,000. My tester was the 2023 Hybrid Platinum with all-wheel drive, which includes three rows, and seats seven adults.
Powered by a 2.5-liter, DOHC, four-cylinder engine with two electric motor-generators, the Highlander hybrid generates 243 horsepower, has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, and an EPA-rating of 36 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving. The battery pack was installed under the second-row seats, so it doesn’t take away any cargo or passenger space.
Owners also receive the benefit of all-wheel drive in all driving conditions, with the assurance the system automatically disengages when not needed to benefit bottom-line fuel economy. In addition, all Highlander models include Hill Start Assist Control and Trailer Sway Control for optimal on-road and off-road performance and safety.
There’s plenty of space for carrying stuff, too. With all seat rows in use, Highlander offers 16.0 cu. ft. of space behind the third row. Folding the 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seatbacks expands the space to 48.4 cu. ft., and then folding the second row raises that to 84.3 cu. ft. The versatile cargo area makes the most of the additional length with side surfaces and pockets shaped for maximum use.
The Highlander Hybrid offers selectable NORMAL, ECO and SPORT driving modes that let the driver choose the vehicle’s performance personality. ECO mode extracts maximum efficiency from the fuel and battery, while NORMAL mode is ideal for everyday driving. SPORT mode quickens the throttle response from the hybrid system for improved acceleration control. A bonus is the EV mode, which allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances.
Platinum grade, the most luxurious Highlander, features embossed, perforated leather-trim seats in three colors, a 1,200 watt JBL sound system with 12 speakers including a subwoofer and amp, heated and ventilated power front seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, 12.3-inch multimedia screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charger, and Sirius XM radio.
I know it’s a small thing, but the extra-quiet cabin helps set Highlander apart from competitors. Sound-dampening and soundproofing materials are optimized throughout the vehicle, focusing particularly on minimizing noise in the frequencies that interfere with conversation. As an example, Limited and Platinum grades have acoustic glass on the front side windows to further isolate the driver from outside noise.
Exterior features are highlighted by 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with adaptive front lighting, system auto-leveling, heated, power, folding side mirrors, hands-free lift gate, rain-sensing wipers and a panoramic view moonroof with sunshade.
Icing on the cake is Highlander’s safety features. It is a two-time IIHS Top Safety Pick+ recipient, the organization’s highest rating, and one that acknowledges the standard Toyota Safety Sense
2.5+ system that includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, and automatic high beams.
Toyota doesn’t miss a trick with its Highlander, delivering consumer confidence in spades. On top of all that, Highlander is manufactured in America at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana manufacturing plant.
Base Price: $53,760
Price As Delivered: $53,760
Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.
Talk to us
- You can tell us about news and ask us about our journalism by emailing email@example.com or by calling 425-339-3428.
- If you have an opinion you wish to share for publication, send a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to The Daily Herald, Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206.
- More contact information is here.