2012 Toyota Highlander vs. Its Competition

2012 Toyota Highlander FWD 4-door V6 (SE) Angular Front Exterior View
Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Senior Editor

The Highlander is a very well-rounded vehicle for getting the family across town or across the country while keeping them safe and comfortable, but it offers very little excitement for the driver.

For that, the MazdaCX-9 is a better pick, as it's nearly as comfortable and versatile, but it simply steers and handles better.

The Ford Flex is the winner for visual excitement; most will like its uber-boxy style and pleasing interior materials.

Those who want something a little more rugged-looking, with more of a traditional SUV driving position, should consider the Honda Pilot, which is very safe and well-laid out for passengers, too.

Of them all, the Chevrolet Traverse is probably the best pick, other than the Highlander for passenger comfort, and the Chevy has an even more spacious (and easier to get to) third row.

Toyota's own RAV4 offers a third row, but the rearmost row is just kidstuff; if it's just for occasional use, it might suffice.

2012 Toyota Highlander FWD 4-door V6 (SE) Angular Front Exterior View2012 Toyota Highlander
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2012 Chevrolet Traverse2012 Chevrolet Traverse
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2012 Ford Flex 4-door SEL FWD Side Exterior View2012 Ford Flex
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2012 Honda Pilot 2WD 4-door EX-L Angular Front Exterior View2012 Honda Pilot
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2012 Mazda CX-92012 Mazda CX-9
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Quick Specs
The 2012 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid to roomy, three-row family crossover wagons what the Camry is to mid-size sedans: comfortable, safe, and full-featured—but more than a little bland.
One of the best big crossovers for families needing seven-passenger capability, the 2012 Chevy Traverse is spacious and safe, though unexciting.
One of our top-rated vehicles, the 2012 Ford Flex has real distinction, along with top-shelf turbo power, great seats and great features.
Don't let the macho-boxy look intimidate you; the Honda Pilot makes a lot of sense for large families—especially with improved mileage and a most tasteful front-end design for 2012.
The 2012 Mazda CX-9 is a little more enjoyable to drive than most crossovers its size, while it manages three rows of seating, a plush cabin, and decent comfort.
MSRP From    
Gas Mileage    
17 MPG City / 28 MPG Hwy16 MPG City / 24 MPG Hwy16 MPG City / 24 MPG Hwy17 MPG City / 25 MPG Hwy16 MPG City / 24 MPG Hwy
Gas I4Gas V6Gas V6Gas V6Gas V6
EPA Class    
Sport Utility Vehicle2WD Sport Utility Vehicle2WD Sport Utility Vehicle2WD Sport Utility Vehicle2WD Sport Utility Vehicle
Style Name    
FWD 4-Door I4 (GS)FWD 4-Door LS4-Door SE FWD2WD 4-Door LXFWD 4-Door Sport
Front Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity    
Passenger Doors    
Body Style    
4 Door4 Door4 Door4 Door Sport Utility4 Door Sport Utility Vehicle
AutomaticAutomaticAutomaticAutomatic w/ODAutomatic
Detailed Spec Comparison
 2012 Toyota Highlander vs. 2012 Chevrolet Traverse2012 Toyota Highlander vs. 2012 Ford Flex2012 Toyota Highlander vs. 2012 Honda Pilot2012 Toyota Highlander vs. 2012 Mazda CX-9