New Toyota Highlander Review 2012

The Highlander—An Introduction

In several ways, the Highlander 2012 gets it just right as a crossover SUV. It is easy to drive and provides for brisk acceleration. The crossover also boasts of high fuel efficiency and delivers an impressive mileage in its category. However, the segment in which the Highlander operates remains intensely competitive. And it clearly isn’t the only vehicle that manages a compelling presence. Solid bets that offer the Highlander a tough competition include the Dodge Durango which is all muscle, the Chevy Traverse and the Ford Explorer. However, the friendly disposition and the versatility of the Highlander is what make it an ideal choice for one and all.

 Body Styles, Options and Trim Levels

 In the base level variant, there are 17 inch diameter alloy wheels, split folding seeds, back privacy glass, air conditioning, a steering with tilt and telescopic features, cloth upholstery, a 6 speaker supported CD system along with an auxiliary jack. If you go for the SE model, there would a power lift-gate, a sunroof, climate control, leather upholstery, rearview mirrors with auto-dimming features, Bluetooth, USB port and back up camera.

 The Limited Edition possesses all these features along with 19 inch alloy wheels, powered and heated outside mirrors, chrome exterior, and power folding seats. Besides, you can also avail of tri zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition, a four way powered passenger seat and accents of wood grain.

 The available options would vary as per trim level. However, the available ones would include a prep package for towing, an upgraded and advanced JBL sound system, a navigation system along with a DVD entertainment system.

 Performance and Powertrains

 Here, you would have a choice of a couple of engines to consider. The base model is fitted with a 2.7 ltr inline 4 variant that delivers 187 hp and a torque of 186 pound feet. It is also equipped with a 6 speed automatic transmission. The fuel economy figures posted by EPA would be would be 20mpg for the city and 25 mpg for the highway. The 22 mpg is a combined mileage.

 The Optional choice for the SE and base model is the Highlander Limited, which is powered by a 3.5 ltr V6 engine that delivers a torque of 248 cubic feet and power of 270 hp. The mileage values put forth by EPA for this model is around 18 mpg for city, 24 mpg for highway and 20 mpg combined. When properly equipped, the Highlander can tow a weight of up to 5000 pounds.

 Safety Features

 The basic safety features in a Highlander include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, side impact airbags for protection passengers occupying the front seat, full length curtain airbags on the side, a knee airbag on the driver side, and active restraints near the front head. Hill descent control is provided in all wheel drive models.


The government crash testing awarded 4 stars to the Highlander, which were a four stars for frontal crash protection and five for side impact protection. The rating provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was “good”, for both side impact and frontal offsets.

 Special Features and Interior Design

 The 2012 Highlander can easily boast of a better looking cabin as compared to the other vehicles of this segment. And this is especially true for the Limited Edition highlander. The controls and gauges sport a layout that’s simple and straightforward. The cabin space also ensures superior visibility from all angles.

 Both the front and the second row seats are spacious enough; however, legroom could be scarce in the third row. So, it would be best suited for kids at best. However, the bench on the second row slides front and back, to enhance cargo capacity and legroom as well. The recline feature on the seats also ensure superior comfort. The 40-20-40 split design also provides for a removable center section that can be stowed neatly in a compartment located below the center console. This makes it delightfully easy to access the farthest back bench even when child seats are strapped to the second row.

 For cargo hauling, the Highlander would provide 95.4 cubic feet of cargo space when the second as well as third to seatbacks are folded down. This is distinctly better than most of its competitors in the segment.

 The Toyota Highlander 2012—Final Word

 With respect to driving dynamics, the 2012 highlander is a well-rounded choice. It provides for decent handling and a surprisingly smooth ride. The vehicle is light and compact with a light steering wheel that makes it an immensely maneuverable option. The acceleration is strong, and the power train also remains to be one of the most fuel efficient ones in this category. The four cylinder equipped engine gets better with fuel economy, however, it would only be best suited for the frugal because of its compromised performance.