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2015 Toyota Highlander Photo
8.2
/ 10
TCC Rating
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Reviewed by Marty Padgett
Editorial Director, The Car Connection
BASE INVOICE
$26,855
BASE MSRP
$29,415
Quick Take
The 2015 Toyota Highlander offers a versatile and stylish alternative to the minivan, with available all-wheel drive and a thoughtfully designed interior. Read more »
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2015 Toyota Highlander
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Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web
Styling
Performance
Quality
Safety
Features
Mileage

in the back, the new design of the liftgate, taillights and bumper is cleaner and more attractive.

Autoblog »

more than a hint of Jeep Grand Cherokee about its side and rear profiles and Kia Sportage in its stubby hood and greenhouse.

Road & Track »

Up front, the dashboard has been considerably upgraded from the 2013 model’s, making the old one look dated, even cheap.

Automobile »

The big grille and squinty eyes look macho and aggressive, much like the new Tundra.

Motor Trend »

The Highlander's ho-hum appearance is transformed with for 2014 with a beefier stance, bulging fenders and bold front styling.

Cars.com »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$29,415 $43,790
MSRP $29,415
INVOICE $26,855
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FWD 4-Door I4 LE
Gas Mileage 20 mpg City/25 mpg Hwy
Engine Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.7 L
EPA Class Small Sport Utility Vehicles 2WD
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 8
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style Sport Utility
See Detailed Specs »
8.2 out of 10
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Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
STYLE INVOICE MSRP
2015 Toyota Highlander FWD 4-Door I4 LE (Natl)
FWD 4-Door I4 LE
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.7 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 26,855 $ 29,415
2015 Toyota Highlander FWD 4-Door V6 LE (GS)
FWD 4-Door V6 LE
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 28,046 $ 30,720
2015 Toyota Highlander FWD 4-Door V6 LE Plus (SE)
FWD 4-Door V6 LE Plus
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 30,074 $ 32,940
2015 Toyota Highlander AWD 4-Door V6 XLE (Natl)
AWD 4-Door V6 XLE
Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L
All Wheel Drive
$ 34,420 $ 37,700
More Styles »

The Basics:

The Toyota Highlander was redesigned for 2014, with the brand now positioning it as an SUV instead of a crossover and making it look more rugged at the same time. The Highlander remains car-based, however, and sits in the lineup as a more civil alternative to the Toyota 4Runner and a roomier option for those who find the RAV4 too small or need an extra row of seating. The Highlander continues to offer a very fuel-efficient hybrid model, as well as a base four-cylinder and optional V-6 in mainstream models.

For its third take, the big utility vehicle adopts a new look that owes some of its cues to a slew of competitive vehicles that occupy the grey area between crossovers and SUVs. We see some Dodge Durango and BMW X5 in the side view--and oddly enough, lots of Mitsubishi in the maw-like grille and the exaggerations around its wheel wells and at the sills. The cabin skips that ambiguity--it's all car, and it's directly inspired by the cockpit in the current RAV4. There's some Teutonic-themed dash action, and a pleasing jumble of lines and textures.

The Highlander's powertrains are carried over from the previous generation. The 2.7-liter four-cylinder in base models is the same engine found in the smaller RAV4. Coupled to a six-speed automatic and offered only with front-wheel drive, the engine generates in 185 horsepower and acceptable acceleration, but gets strained easily past legal highway speeds and loads of more than two passengers.

A 270-hp V-6 can be paired with a six-speed automatic and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive for good, not great, acceleration. With the V-6 engine is installed, the Highlander can be rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Hybrid models mate the six with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) and through-the-road all-wheel drive for a net 280 hp that feels only adequate, thanks to an additional 350 pounds of curb weight.

The Highlander's driving dynamics were long overdue for attention, and the front-strut and independent-rear suspension are tuned for less lean and more ride firmness that doesn't lapse into Euro caricature. Electric power steering is now standard, and the all-wheel-drive system can ship around torque from front to rear when the vehicle's yaw sensors detect a more engaged driver. Eighteen-inch and 19-inch wheels will be on the order sheet, for those more adventurous types.

At 191.1 inches long, on a 109.8-inch wheelbase, the Highlander's stretched by three inches over the prior version, but none of it comes between the wheels. There's a half-inch more width, in what was already a fairly large vehicle--though one that's still noticeably smaller than competitors like the new Nissan Pathfinder.

The Highlander's cabin is much quieter and calmer than before. Thicker acoustic glass damps powertrain noise, and insulation in the floor blots out vibrations, suspension chatter, and tire squawk. A very useful tray now dominates the dashboard, allowing storage of small items like phones or purses--there's even a cord passthrough to connect electronics to the audio and power ports below.

Depending on options, the Highlander can seat up to eight passengers, just like a minivan. The front row on all models features bucket seats separated by a large tambour-covered console. In row two you'll find either a three-person split-bench seat with a recline feature, or a pair of captain's chairs. The previous generation's "Center Stow" seat is gone, replaced by a flip-up cupholder tray, but the second-row bench seat does slide to improve access to the reclining third-row seat, which has 4.3 inches more width for better comfort but a dearth of headroom. Toyota has also carved out more cargo space behind the three-person third-row bench.

The 2015 Highlander includes a total of eight airbags as well as a standard rearview camera. Hill-start assist is also included. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick+, and it's earned a five-star overall score in federal testing (albeit not with five stars in all categories). Among the safety options are blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and parking sensors. Visibility is better than in the previous generation, thanks to repositioned pillars and bigger rear-quarter windows.

All 2015 Toyota Highlanders come with an Entune connectivity kit, and Bluetooth to go with the usual power features and conveniences, all for a base price of just under $30,000 before destination.

Higher trim levels package in features like automatic high-beam headlights; heated and ventilated front seats; heated second-row captain's chairs; a JBL audio system; a navigation system; a power tailgate with a programmable lift height; and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with gaming inputs.

Highlander Limited crossovers approach $45,000; the Hybrid Limited peaks near $50,000.

Likes:

  • Four-cylinder, six-cylinder, or hybrid
  • Second-row flexibility
  • Solid connectivity features
  • Good third-row access

Dislikes:

  • Powertrains running in place
  • Will hybrid's real-world mileage vary?
  • Dash can look busy
  • New design is better, but by how much?
Next: Interior / Exterior »

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