NEW FOR 2009:

– New 4-cylinder model
– Base V6 model discontinued; SR5 is now Highlander V6
– New standard equipment on all V6 models: power liftgate, glass hatch, eight-way power driver’s seat, premium cloth seats, six-CD stereo and fog lamps
– Sport and Limited models receive XM Satellite-ready antenna with prewiring
– Hybrid Comfort Package adds automatic headlamps
– Hybrid adds new Leather Package

Having been completely redesigned for 2008, the V6-powered Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid are unchanged, save for trim additions and a new power rear door on all models except the base Hybrid. The base Highlander trim line has been discontinued, its place taken by the previous SR5 trim line, now renamed the Highlander V6. A new four-cylinder model has been added, which now becomes the base Highlander.

The Highlander uses a platform derived from the Camry and Avalon, and has three rows of seats in all models.

Three engines are available. The base Highlander uses a 2.7-litre four-cylinder with six-speed automatic. The V6 models use a 3.5-litre V6, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, while the Hybrid uses a 3.3-litre V6 with Toyota’s Synergy Drive hybrid electric system and CVT. The four-cylinder is front-wheel drive, while all other models are four-wheel drive.

Features on the Highlander four-cylinder include 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, power locks with keyless entry, tilt and telescopic wheel, 40/20/40 middle-row seats, flat-folding third-row seats, cruise control, conversation mirror, power windows with driver’s auto up/down, floor mats, heated mirrors, privacy glass, variable intermittent wipers, windshield de-icer, rear washer/wiper, front and rear splash guards, front tow hook, and driver’s knee airbag.

The Highlander V6 adds six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and wheel-mounted controls, premium cloth seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, Optitron gauges, cargo cover, leather-wrapped steering wheel, illuminated entry, power liftgate, backup camera, flip-up rear glass hatch, roof rails, and fog lamps.

The V6 Sport adds 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated leather seats, silver interior accent trim, power sunroof, rear spoiler, and automatic headlamps.

The V6 Limited adds Bluetooth connectivity, four-way power passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, woodgrain interior trim, chrome inner door handles, footwell lighting, reading lamps, Smart Key system with pushbutton start, garage door opener, anti-theft system, and heated mirrors with puddle lamps.

Features on the Hybrid include 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, premium cloth seats, 40/20/40 middle-row seats, 40/20/40 third-row seats, power locks, Optitron gauges, power windows with driver’s auto down, woodgrain trim, tilt and telescopic wheel, floor mats, Smart Key with pushbutton start, cruise control, backup camera, driver’s knee airbag, front tow hook, power mirrors, privacy glass, front and rear splash guards, variable intermittent wipers, rear washer/wiper, and windshield de-icer.

The Hybrid Limited adds 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, four-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth connectivity, heated leather seats with eight-way driver and four-way passenger power adjustment, second-row armrest, third-row flat-folding bench seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear reading lamps, power liftgate, garage door opener, DVD-based navigation system with backup camera, anti-theft system, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, roof rack, power sunroof, automatic headlamps and fog lamps.

With its fairly compact footprint, the Highlander offers go-anywhere nimble handling and practicality. The smaller four-cylinder comes only in front-wheel drive, but V6 models also add go-almost-anywhere capability with their four-wheel systems. Second-row seating is roomy and the centre seat can be removed and stored under the front-row console for extra versatility. Both second and third rows fold flat, and the new power liftgate makes it easier to load everything when your hands are full. The third row is mostly for children, as it’s not easy to access, and the high floor makes it uncomfortable for long drives.

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