2010 Toyota Highlander: Now With A Frugal Four-Cylinder

April 13, 2010
With prices starting at just $25,855, the 2010 Toyota Highlander has always been a wise family SUV choice when equipped with either the reliable 3.5-liter V-6 or efficient 3.3-liter hybrid V-6 powertrain. With the recent addition of the all-new four-cylinder Highlander variants, however, Toyota has gone and invented a whole new market niche to dominate.

Yes, the Highlander is the first true mid-size seven-passenger, four-cylinder SUV/crossover and don’t you wonder how long it will be before Honda, Nissan, Ford and Chevy finally follow suit? If gas prices that seem to be inching towards north of $4 are any indication, these car companies may actually be forced to follow in Toyota’s rather large footsteps and start offering four-cylinders on more SUV models.

But don’t worry that the 2.7 liter four-cylinder with 187 horsepower/186 lb-feet of torque is just an overburdened “GM special.” You know, that GM trick from the 1970s and 1980s where the “ex-world’s largest automaker” crammed four-bangers into the engine bays of vehicles that were far too heavy for the motors. Surprisingly, however, the 2010 Toyota Highlander accelerates off the line with alacrity and the engine is very free revving so even under heavy loads there is sufficient power.

The basic Highlander model has everything you need including 17-inch alloy wheels, power windows, power door locks, rear tinted windows and manual air conditioning. For just $679 more you can get a 6-disc CD player extra audio package which also throws in third row seats, a tow package that allows the Highlander to tow 5,000 pounds and floormats. The $1,399 “Highlander Extra-Value Package” ups the ante with power seats, a rear tonneau cover, rear A/C vents (nice in a vehicle this big), body-side molding, heated mirrors, windshield wiper de-icers and auto headlamps for $1,399. Adding a power moonroof to that price ups the options total to $2,145.

Unfortunately, the 2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder is only available in the most basic trim level. Why can’t the world have a Highlander Limited with leather seats, JBL audio, navigation and only four cylinders? Just check out the EPA estimated 20 miles per gallon city and 27 miles per gallon highway! Although if you are cross shopping in the Toyota line do remember that the 270 horsepower 3.5 liter V-6 option in the 2010 Highlander gets 18 city/24 highway and boasts almost 100 more horsepower over its cylinder-deprived sibling.

Hmmm. Great fuel economy or 100 extra horsepower? Can’t we just have both, Toyota?

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