CHANGES FOR 2013:
– No changes.
As it moves into its fifth year, the Highlander looks dated next to many of its competitors in spite of a styling refresh in 2012. You get a choice of four-cylinder or V6 power; the V6 is the engine to choose if your Highlander will regularly be loaded up (and if it won’t be, may we ask why you aren’t buying something smaller?). Whatever – it’s a free world, so if you like the Highlander’s inoffensive demeanour, then go for it. You’ll only be disappointed if you want a vehicle with some personality.
When our own Buyer’s Guide Editor Jonathan Yarkony reviewed a 2012 Highlander Hybrid, he called it “extreme in its dullness.” It’s the truth, too. Nothing about this vehicle stands out, except, perhaps, the vehicle’s rated fuel consumption figures (6.6/7.3 city/highway), which are impressive even in real-world driving. It may be marketed as the most efficient Highlander, but the Hybrid is also the most powerful when its gas engine and electric motors are going all-out. But for the price (okay, for slightly more price), we might suggest a Volkswagen Touareg TDI as a more interesting choice in a fuel-efficient crossover, only you’ll have to give up the seven-passenger seating capability.
The Highlander comes with three engine choices. The base Highlander uses a 2.7-litre four-cylinder with six-speed automatic, while the V6 models use a 3.5-litre V6 with five-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid uses a 3.5-litre V6 engine with Synergy Drive hybrid electric system and CVT. The four-cylinder is front-wheel drive, while the V6 and Hybrid are all-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 steering wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat, 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, 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 Leather adds heated leather seats and garage door opener.
The V6 Sport adds 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, 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, three-zone manual air conditioning, cloth seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, 40/20/40 split-folding second-row seat, 50/50 split-folding third-row seat, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, XM satellite radio, six speakers, keyless entry, 3.5-inch multi-information display, rearview camera, cruise control, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, dual vanity mirrors, conversation mirror, auto-down driver’s window, all-weather floor mats, and digital clock.
The Hybrid Comfort Package adds cargo cover, smart key system with pushbutton start, power liftgate, power sunroof, roof rail crossbars, anti-theft system and automatic headlamps.
The Hybrid Limited adds 19-inch alloy wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, ten-way driver and four-way passenger power-adjustable heated perforated leather seats, woodgrain trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and HVAC controls, premium four-disc CD/MP3 stereo, navigation system, rear privacy glass, rear reading lamps, and flip-up rear hatch glass.