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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
Four stars overall
Top Safety Pick
All major safety equipment is standard...
With both crash-test agencies reporting in on the Highlander, it's clear the big Toyota crossover is a safe vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) changed its ratings and criteria for the 2011 model year, and under the revised scoring, the Highlander earns a four-star overall rating, with a five-star score for side-impact protection.Over at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Highlander gets a "good" grade in every test conducted by the insurance industry-funded group. Since it's also passed the new roof-crush standard added to the IIHS' checksheet this year, the 2012 Highlander earns the insurance industry-funded group's "Top Safety Pick" award, too.
The Highlander's long list of standard safety equipment includes dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as a driver knee airbag; daytime running lights; downhill assist control on 4WD models; and hill-start assist. A rearview camera is standard on the SE, Limited and both Hybrid models, and it's an option on the gas-only base Highlander. However, the Highlander lacks more advanced features like blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control.
Very good crash-test scores give the Highlander a safety edge, though it trails on the latest safety technology.