Writing an article on the Toyota Highlander is always a bit challenging. Honestly, we could just write “it’s fine, buy it if you want” and that would be a decent overview of Toyota’s mid-size SUV.
There’s nothing wrong with the Highlander and it’s perfectly capable of exceeding the needs of your average mid-size utility vehicle buyer. It just won’t do so with any sort of personality. No sense of showmanship.
Is that a problem? No, not really, except there’s a lot of newly redesigned competitors lurking in the shadows, and these rivals are getting the spotlight from their respective automakers.
The Mazda CX-9, the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento and the Subaru Ascent have all been tweaked, redesigned, or introduced in the last year. That leaves the Highlander scrambling for attention. It’s done fine so far placing fourth in sales behind the Santa Fe, Ford Explorer and Kia Sorento, but this segment is a constant battle for any automaker.
Let’s not forget that it also needs to compete with established models and up-and-comers like the Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Volkswagen Atlas. There’s a lot of people at the table, but luckily there are a lot of buyers to go around as well.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the 2019 Toyota Highlander with what it does well, and what it doesn’t do so well.
What the 2019 Toyota Highlander does well
1) It offers a standard V6 engine with 295 horsepower. If you’re not ready to go the way of four-cylinder, turbocharged engines, then the Highlander gives you a smooth, refined engine with 6 cylinders that develops plenty of power.
2) This engine is surprisingly fuel-efficient for a V6 with an average fuel consumption rating of only 9.0 liters on the highway and 10.6 liters per 100 kilometers combined with all-wheel drive.
3) Speaking of fuel economy, Toyota offers the Highlander with a hybrid engine which isn’t something you’ll find elsewhere in this segment. It’s not exactly a bargain, but if you want hybrid power and three rows of seats, this is the SUV to buy.
4) There’s plenty of space in the Toyota Highlander. Passenger space and cargo space are among the best in its class, but the way the cabin is designed, and the ridiculous amount of storage compartments found inside make the Highlander feel even more spacious and welcoming.
5) Toyota Safety Sense P, Toyota’s long list of active safety features that includes forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist and radar-based adaptive cruise control, is standard equipment in the 2019 Highlander.
On the road, the 2019 Highlander is one of the most comfortable and refined mid-size SUVs you can buy. It’s not the sportiest or most dynamic, but it’s hard to beat when it comes to comfort and refinement.
What the 2019 Toyota Highlander doesn’t do so well
1) The entry-level FWD version is pretty much useless, and also quite expensive for what it has to offer.
2) The Highlander may have a ton of standard safety features, some other features are only offered in the expensive Limited model when they should have been included in more affordable versions. A heated steering wheel and heated middle row of seats come to mind. You can get these features for less money elsewhere.
3) There’s no Apple CarPlay and no Android Auto anywhere to be found in the 2019 Highlander’s lineup.
What we tell our friends
You can’t beat the 2019 Toyota Highlander’s comfort and from a versatility stand point, it’s one of the best in its segment. It doesn’t provide the best bang for your buck, however, and make sure you’ll be ok with the fact that it puts comfort way before sportiness and driving enjoyment.