2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder
2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder
2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder. Click image to enlarge

Related articles on Autos
First Drive: 2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder
Inside Story: 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
Test Drive: 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Test Drive: 2008 Toyota Highlander Limited 4×4
Test Drive: 2008 Toyota Highlander base
DBDR: 2008 Toyota Highlander base

Manufacturer’s web site
Toyota Canada

Join Autos’s Facebook group
Follow Autos on Twitter

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2010 Toyota Highlander

Louisville, Kentucky – I’ve been a racing fan for pretty much my whole life, but I’m very specific: I only like the racers that get so many miles to the hay-bale, and with biodegradable exhaust. Being a Thoroughbred racing fan means that the Kentucky Derby was my gotta-do-it-before-I-die event, but over many years, I discovered that it’s probably easier to get a seat on the winning horse than it is to get a ticket for one in the stands.

This year, through a combination of perseverance and simple blind luck, I finally got my hands on a pair of tickets for the clubhouse, to watch the race on its traditional first Saturday in May. I bought my fancy hat – de rigueur for women at the track – and then thought about how to get to Louisville, Kentucky, which is some 1,025 kilometres from my house. Despite my love of horse racing, I’m not much of a gambler, but I approached Toyota with an unusual request: a vehicle affected by the accelerator pedal recall, a fix for a condition which some drivers say have caused their cars to suddenly accelerate out of control. The company responded with a 2010 Highlander. Mine carried the 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine, with six-speed automatic transmission and in front-wheel drive, the only configuration available with the smaller engine. The four-cylinder comes in a single trim line. The other three gas-only Highlander trim models use a 3.5-litre V6 with five-speed automatic, and are full-time all-wheel drive only, while the Hybrid comes in two trim lines and all-wheel drive. My model started at $33,250 but was optioned with a $1,520 Upgrade Package, which added several trim features.

A recall will shave a little off the bottom of the accelerator pedal
A recall will shave a little off the bottom of the accelerator pedal. Click image to enlarge

My schedule wasn’t very flexible, and so my itinerary was to drive from Ontario to Kentucky on Friday, attend the race on Saturday, and come home on Sunday. The idea behind taking a “recalled” vehicle was to show that while recall notices shouldn’t be ignored, they also shouldn’t be cause for alarm: either my husband and I would get to the Churchill Downs racetrack unscathed, or the accelerator would indeed stick and provide me with the story of the century. And while I must admit that while the newshound side of me longed for such a literary coup, nothing happened except that I drove there, enjoyed one of the best days of my life, and drove home.

After picking up the vehicle in Toronto, my first stop was the nearby Whitby Toyota dealership. The service advisor confirmed that a reinforcement plate had been added to the pedal, as per the recall, but that a second recall was still outstanding. This one would shave a bit of material off the bottom of the pedal to prevent any unsecured mats from jamming against it. (I can only imagine what some people are piling on their floors, because the pedal has considerable clearance even before shaving any off.) He tried very hard to convince me to get the 30-minute job done right then, and when I didn’t, he went out to the Highlander to make sure my floor mat was properly secured.

2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder
2010 Toyota Highlander four-cylinder. Click image to enlarge

According to U.S. data, about one-quarter of all recalled vehicles, from all manufacturers, are never taken in to have the recall performed. Realistically, though, the odds are in your favour. Recalls are issued when components or manufacturing processes are discovered to have existing or potential safety-related problems, and as a precaution, all vehicles built with that batch of parts or in that assembly sequence are included. Chances are good your vehicle doesn’t actually need the repair, but it’s always best to get it done anyway.

If you are travelling to the U.S., get your vehicle done before you leave. American dealers aren’t really equipped for Canadian cars, as I discovered when I contacted two shops along the way. A service advisor in Louisville told me, incorrectly, that the recalls only apply to U.S. vehicles (even though my Highlander was built in Indiana). He was able to pull up my vehicle’s VIN, but it showed nothing outstanding. A service advisor in Cleveland experienced a computer error every time she tried to enter my vehicle, and said that she’d not heard of any recalls on Highlanders, just mostly Camry and Corolla, even though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists the pedal plate recall for 2010 Highlanders in the U.S. But both answered correctly when I asked what to do if mine did take off: push the brake pedal, put the shifter in neutral, and once the car stops, turn off the ignition and call a tow truck.

Connect with Autos.ca