The 2018 Toyota Highlander is a 3-row crossover that can accommodate up to 8 passengers. The Highlander is positioned below the Sequoia full-size SUV but above the RAV4 compact crossover. In addition to a 4-cylinder and a V-6, the Toyota Highlander is also offered with a hybrid drive-train. The model was comprehensively redesigned for the 2017 model year meaning the 2018 variant will carryover without many noticeable changes. A new generation is not expected until 2020 when the model is expected to adopt the TNGA platform.
2018 Toyota Highlander Exterior and Interior
As said in the introduction, the 2018 Toyota Highlander carries over without recognizable changes compared to the 2017 model. The crossover has an expressive design that has endeared it to many buyers. The base LE trim features as standard 18-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, a 4.2-inch display, keyless entry, 5 USB ports and 50/40 split-folding seats (second and third rows). The LE also features as standard the automaker’s Entune infotainment system that is hosted in a 6.1-inch touch-screen, a rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity. The LE Plus adds a tri-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch touch-screen, powered front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Opting for the XLE trim, a buyer gets leather upholstery, a navigation system, keyless ignition and a sunroof. The SE trim, on the other hand, is equipped like the XLE trim but it has sportier design cues such as leather upholstery with a contrast stitching, a sporty suspension; it also rides on 19-inch black wheels.
The Limited trim gets perforated leather upholstery, captain chairs for the second row, ventilation on front seats, JBL premium sound system and LED accent strips on headlights; the model rides on 19-inch alloy wheels with a chrome look. The range-topping Limited Platinum trim comes with a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree view camera network, heated steering wheel, heating on second-row seats and rides on 19-inch alloy wheels with a dark chrome look.
Buyers can also add second-row captain’s chairs on the XLE trim. All models except the LE and LE plus trims will also feature a rear-seat entertainment system.
The crossover offers 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space with all seats in position. Folding the third-row seat expands the space to 42.3 cubic feet and 83.7cubic feet upon folding the second-row seats (LE and LE Plus) and 83.2 cubic feet (XLE, SE and Limited trims). The base trim with the 4-cylinder engine can tow 1,500 lbs when properly equipped; V-6 powered models can tow 5,000 lbs while Hybrid models can tow 3,500 lbs.
All models, however, feature the automaker’s Safety Sense-P system as standard. The system features automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams. Blind-spot detection along with rear-cross traffic alert is offered on all trims except the base LE trim.
Engine and performance
Powering the Highlander are three different engine options. On the base, LE trim is a 2.7 L, inline-4 that produces 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine mates to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The LE is offered with front-wheel drive. However, buyers can opt to have their LE with a V-6 mill which is standard on other trims. The V-6 has a displacement of 3.5 liters; it produces 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can also choose to have the engine in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive; regardless of the choice, the V-6 mates to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The Highlander can also be had with a hybrid engine; the drive-train pairs the 3.5 L, V-6 with two electric motors backed by a 45 kW nickel-metal hydride battery. The hybrid is available only in all-wheel drive. The setup produces 306 hp.
In terms of fuel economy, the V-6 returns 20 mpg, 26 mpg and 22 mpg in city, highway and combined drives respectively with AWD and 21 mpg, 27 mpg and 23 mpg on city, highway and combined drives respectively with front-wheel-drive. Models with the V-6 mill feature an auto start/stop technology which enhances its efficiency. Uncharacteristically, the inline-4 is not as frugal as expected; it is, in fact, thirstier than the V-6. This may be due to the fact that the engine has to work harder to motivate the heavy crossover. I think Toyota should discontinue this engine from the Highlander. The engine returns 20 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 22 mpg on combined drives. The hybrid is the most economical; it returns 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 29 mpg on combined drives on LE models and 29 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 28 mpg on combined drives on higher trims.
Price and release date
Sales of the Highlander will commence in November. The entry-level LE trim with a 4-cylinder engine will have an MSRP of $32,025 representing a $400 hike compared to the 2017 version. Opting for LE with the V-6 engine attracts $34,075. The range-topping Limited Platinum trim with front-wheel drive fetches $46,195 and $47,655 with AWD.