Photos & Videos: Evan ‘Evo’ Yates
The Toyota Highlander nameplate in past years has conjured up images of the most basic, vanilla SUV/crossover imaginable with zero thrills whatsoever – this is no longer the case. The recently redesigned Highlander is sleek, sporty and gives off a luxurious vibe. It’s almost like Toyota today is what Lexus was a few years ago at a fraction of the price. Virtually every angle on the Highlander is attractive and our Predawn Gray color was gorgeous in any lighting condition. The pictures speak for themselves, you just never get tired of looking at it.
If the exterior is impressive, the creature comforts are off the charts. The storage shelf nestled under the radio is pure genius and I’m curious as to why more vehicles don’t have something similar to this. The shelf is perfect for the vehicle’s keys, your cell phone and just about anything you can cram in there. This feature alone puts most vehicles on the road to shame in terms of convenience. The Highlander also has a really cool, very deep center console that I found useful to store your lunch when driving through or picking up a meal. The center console storage was also very helpful when transporting water bottles to football practice and I’m sure there are hundreds of uses for such a space that I can’t even fathom. The infotainment center is large with big buttons and very easy to use. The iPod integration worked seamlessly and the satellite radio never skipped a beat. The head unit’s ease of operation falls in line with the overall theme of the vehicle; effortless. The rest of the interior wasn’t bland exactly, it just wasn’t memorable which is perfectly fine. There’s plenty of headroom and everyone in the second row had ample space to kick their feet up. The third row was par for the course as you probably can only fit a small child back there but that’s to be expected.
I was surprised and impressed by the power and maneuverability of such a vehicle. Changing lanes in traffic, on the highway cruising or carving mild corners are where the Highlander performs above expectations. The only issue is when pulling out into traffic, there is a bit of torque steer which as long as you’re not a 15 year old with your learner’s permit, you should be able to manage with ease. Braking is a breeze and the overall ride is comfortable while not being too soft. Overall, the XLE Highlander is finally a vehicle you can be proud to own and park right out in front at the soccer games.
Power: 270 hp, 248 lb.-ft.
0-60: 7.1 sec
Gas Cash: 19 City, 25 Hwy
Miles Driven: 350