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STYLING | 7 out of 10
Large, easy-to-read gauges and high-mounted audio and climate controls
The Highlander Limited is the headturner of the bunch
Substantially larger, roomier and more powerful than its predecessor
Kelley Blue Book
The 2009 Toyota Highlander is virtually indistinguishable from last year's model, which was the first year of the second-generation Toyota Highlander. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com prove that the design is a bit uninspiring, but like most Toyota models, it certainly won't offend.
For the 2008 introduction of the new Toyota Highlander, Edmunds says that Toyota gave its mid-size SUV a "top-to-bottom redesign." MyRide.com points out the biggest change: "a sleeker skin that also makes it easy to distinguish this new Highlander from the boxier outgoing model."
The 2009 Toyota Highlander lineup is available in three trims, which ConsumerGuide cites as "Base, Sport, [and] Limited." Kelley Blue Book reviewers are among the most positive regarding the 2009 Toyota Highlander's exterior, reporting that "it is an attractive vehicle that is designed more to blend into the automotive landscape than stand out from it." Popular Mechanics, however, feels that the Toyota 2009 Highlander is less attractive, claiming it "[resembles] a minivan." Car and Driver reviewers find that the new Toyota Highlander "features more aggressive and muscular styling," though that's not saying much in light of the ultra-conservative styling of the first-generation Toyota Highlander.
The Toyota Highlander's interior is better received than the interior, considering that most reviewers heaped compliments upon the interior styling. Edmunds appreciates that "the control layout remains simple and easy to understand," while ConsumerGuide raves about the "large, easy-to-read gauges." Kelley Blue Book reviewers are impressed by how the 2009 Toyota Highlander's interior "is at once conservative, functional and attractive." Popular Mechanics reviewers feel "the layout and detail of the instrument panel tilt toward the functional, with larger dials and clear labeling of controls. We liked the added bonus of the information window that sits atop the IP, relating bits of info on MPG, tire pressure, compass reading, ambient temperature, back-up camera, clock and more." Not everyone sees the Toyota Highlander in such a positive light, however; Cars.com says that "SUVs like the Mazda CX-9 and Hyundai Veracruz boast some impressively upscale interiors. In comparison, Toyota falls a bit short," even though "the chrome accents and electroluminescent gauges look terrific."
The 2009 Toyota Highlander very functional, but not particularly stylish.