Toyota’s three-row SUV is newly refreshed for the 2017 model year. Here are 5 things you need to know about the 2017 Toyota Highlander.
Three-Row, Midsize SUV Starts at $30,630
The Toyota Highlander is a three-row SUV slotted between the RAV4, a compact SUV, and the Toyota Sequoia, a full-size SUV like the Chevrolet Tahoe. This model is similar sized to the Toyota 4Runner with the differences being the 4Runner is a body-on-frame SUV (more for off-road driving) than the unibody Highlander (better for everyday driving).
Towing capacity for the Highlander is 5,000 lbs and payload is 1,280 lbs. These numbers are middle of the road for the segment.
It starts at $30,630 and tops out at $44,760 for the Hybrid Limited model.
2017 Toyota Highlander Trim Levels and Engines
Toyota offers it in eight different trim levels (LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited, Hybrid LE, Hybrid XLE, Hybrid Limited). Each of these trims adds different features and styling cues along with the other differences being a hybrid vs. non-hybrid model.
The Highlander comes in either a 2.7L 4-cylinder or a 3.5L V6 engine. The 4-cylinder is mated to a 6-speed while the 3.5L V6 comes with an 8-speed. Fuel economy is better with the FWD V6 (20/27) coming in at 3 MPG better highway with the same city versus the 4-cylinder (20/24). In AWD, the fuel economy dips by 1 on both city and highway to 19/26.
Changes for 2017
New for 2017 is a variety of changes starting with a visually different grille. The front-end borrows styling from the Lexus lineup of vehicles with a spindle design. Options include LED daytime running lights and dark-black accent headlights.
Also new is the powertrain with a new 3.5L V6 mated to a 8-speed automatic transmission producing 295 HP and 263 lb-ft. of torque. This improves on the 2016 model by 25 HP and 15 lb. ft. of torque. Fuel economy is also improved with the 2017 model rated at 23/27 city/highway while the 2016 was rated at 19/25 city/highway.
Finally, Toyota’s full suite of safety technology is now standard on all 2017 models.
Behind the Wheel
On the road, the improved engine performance really helps the otherwise sluggish Highlander get moving. Also, the additional gears of the 8-speed help in that regard as well.
The Highlander does an ample job handling road conditions and the driver’s seat offers a good view of the surroundings.
However, don’t expect this SUV to handle like say a Mazda CX-9. Instead it may seem a bit pokey to those looking for a more spirited driving experience.
Cargo Room Falls Short of Competition
The rear cargo space is quite voluminous and during our week of testing it out, we were able to pack it quite a bit. However, compared to the competition, it falls short on total cargo volume.
Instead of offering a ton of cargo room, the Highlander is more sleek and stylish versus these competitors in our opinion. It is pretty easy to park and doesn’t feel as large as the other SUVs on our chart.
Overall, we liked the 2017 Toyota Highlander SE we drove. The size was ideal for our family of four and we appreciated the design and size of the vehicle. It is a strong competitor in a tough market and well worth a look by consumers looking for a vehicle in this size.