Reviews

2018 Toyota Highlander Driving Impressions


The base engine is 2.7 liters and 185 horsepower with 184 pound-feet of torque. It’s smooth and meaty for a four-cylinder, but it carries too much weight in the Highlander, and the transmission is only a six-speed. Acceleration is reasonable but stressed if pressed. Forget it for towing, rated at a mere 1500 pounds.

The V6 numbers match the best V6 engines in the class, starting with 5000-pound towing. The turbocharged Ford Flex and V8 Dodge Durango are quicker, but that’s not everything.

You can hardly feel the shifts in the eight-speed automatic transmission, although it can be slow to downshift when you accelerate hard.

The Hybrid powers the front wheels mostly with the V6 engine, and the rear wheels solely with the second electric motor. The engine and front motor use a power-split system like Toyota’s other vehicles with Hybrid Synergy Drive. Because this system weighs 350 pounds, the Hybrid is slower, unlike some cars whose hybrid is the quickest.

The handling is pleasant and predictable, with firm electric power steering, but it’s uninspired and vanilla. It’s controlled, but it leans in turns and can be wobbly.

The ride is smooth, not quite cushy, on the standard wheels. The 19-inch wheels allow the jolts to be felt. The soft ride and handling go away in the SE with its firmer suspension.

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