2019 Toyota Highlander Introduction

The 2019 Toyota Highlander is a three-row crossover known for its passenger comfort, cargo space that’s beyond impressive, family safety, a strong V-6 and an impressive hybrid edition.

The styling was tweaked with more sharp angles last year, and the interior was improved, so the changes for 2019 are all cosmetic. The SE gets dark-tinted headlights, taillights, foglights and wheels, while other models get black plastic rocker panels and some new contrasting chrome.

The base engine is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower, with front-wheel drive only. The engine that’s far more common is a 3.5-liter V-6 making 295 horsepower, mated to a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, with all-wheel drive. The V-6 Hybrid makes 306 horsepower with the help of its electric motors, and is one of the most fuel-efficient larger crossovers.

The ride is soft and luxurious, and the handling is good especially considering it can seat up to eight people in comfort. The blocky styling might suggest more rugged use, and with all-wheel drive it’s certainly capable of snow and mud, but for off-road use the Toyota 4Runner makes more sense.

An all-wheel-drive Highlander with the V-6 engine is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined, which is about average for a family crossover. The base 4-cylinder engine gets no better, in fact a bit lower on the highway. A V-6 with all-wheel drive costs about $3,500 more.

The Hybrid gets a solid 30/28/29 mpg in LE trim with 18-inch wheels, and 29/27/28 mpg for the XLE, Limited, and Platinum with bigger wheels and a roof rack that increases drag. It’s only available with all-wheel drive.

The Highlander earned five stars overall from the NHTSA for crash safety in 2018, with four stars in frontal crash and rollover. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick+. The Highlander leads its rivals in standard active safety equipment, including forward-collision warnings, full-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

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