Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander

2021 Toyota Highlander

Pros: Hybrid’s fuel economy; comprehensive list of standard safety features; good driving dynamics; classy cabin trim in topline models

Cons: Third-row seats are best suited for children

CG Says: The 2021 Toyota Highlander adds a new XSE model with sport suspension and unique styling. All models now have projector LED headlights and an improved version of Toyota’s Safety Sense suite of safety features that is more sensitive to pedestrians and bicyclists. Toyota’s 3-row midsize crossover SUV was redesigned last year, gaining more cargo room; several newly available features; and a new, more-efficient hybrid powertrain. While the previous Highlander Hybrid paired a 3.5-liter V6 with electric motors for a combined 306 horsepower and was only offered with all-wheel drive, the new hybrid has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder/electric powertrain that makes a total of 243 hp and can be had with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Although down on power, the new hybrid still delivers respectable acceleration and offers significantly better fuel economy; its EPA rating in combined city/highway driving is 35 mpg with AWD and 36 with FWD. In terms of non-hybrid Highlanders, the 295-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine from the previous generation is carried over, and the 4-cylinder engine has been dropped. Both gas and hybrid engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, Wi-Fi connectivity, satellite radio, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Standard safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, and road-sign assist. Available safety features include blind-spot alert, rear cross traffic alert, and obstacle detection. With the competition in the three-row midsize SUV market hotter than ever—especially with the addition of the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride—the new Highlander had to be good, and it is. In terms of space, road manners, power, and available safety and technology features, it stands up well to its class rivals—but the excellent hybrid models might be the most compelling Highlanders of the bunch. They’re significantly more economical and affordable than the Ford Explorer Hybrid—the only other hybrid currently offered in the mainstream 3-row midsize SUV category.

The Facts
Class Midsize SUV
Body Style(s) 4-door wagon
Passenger Count 7 or 8
Drive Wheels front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive
Manufacturer Toyota
Nation of Manufacture USA
Base Prices L: $35,985
AWD L: $37,585
LE: $38,185
AWD LE: $39,785
XLE: $40,985
AWD XLE: $42,585
XSE: $42,580
AWD XSE: $44,530
Limited: $44,940
AWD Limited: $46,890
Platinum: $48,140
AWD Platinum: $50,090
Hybrid LE: $39,585
AWD Hybrid LE: $41,185
Hybrid XLE: $42,385
AWD Hybrid XLE: $43,985
Hybrid Limited: $46,340
AWD Hybrid Limited: $48,290
Hybrid Platinum: $49,540
AWD Hybrid Platinum: $51,490

Base Engine
3.5-liter V6
Horsepower
295
Std. Transmission
8-speed automatic
Avail. Transmission
NA
EPA City Range (mpg)
20-21
EPA Hwy Range (mpg)
27-29

Optional Engine
2.5-liter 4-cylinder/electric (Hybrid)
Horsepower
243
Std. Transmission
8-speed automatic
Avail. Transmission
NA
EPA City Range (mpg)
35-36
EPA Hwy Range (mpg)
34-35