2016 Toyota Highlander Limited

A DriveWays Review...

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Aukofer, Frank A. "2016 Toyota Highlander Limited." ThoughtCo, May. 2, 2016, thoughtco.com/2016-toyota-highlander-limited-4040950. Aukofer, Frank A. (2016, May 2). 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/2016-toyota-highlander-limited-4040950 Aukofer, Frank A. "2016 Toyota Highlander Limited." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/2016-toyota-highlander-limited-4040950 (accessed October 23, 2017).
2016 Toyota Highlander
2016 Toyota Highlander. Photo (c) Toyota

A measure of the befuddling popularity of three-row crossover sport utility vehicles like the 2016 Toyota Highlander is the way they have taken over from minivans, once the family vehicle of choice.

Minivans like the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and the all-new Chrysler Pacifica are still the most practical and efficient passenger automobiles on the planet. They seat up to eight people comfortably with plenty of room for cargo, decent handling and good fuel economy.

In contrast, midsize crossovers usually have a cramped third row seat and minimal cargo space unless you fold that third row. They all have available all-wheel drive, which minivans except for the Sienna do not offer.

Yet look at the numbers. In 2015, the six minivans available in the U.S. — Sienna, Odyssey, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest and Chrysler Town & Country — had total sales of 503,995. Other manufacturers either have bailed out of minivans or never offered them.

The 10 midsize crossovers had 1,124,992 sales. Together with the minivans, sales totaled more than 1.6 million. Of that, the crossover SUVs accounted for 69% of the total, while the minivans managed just 31%.

How to account for it? Well, there’s the “soccer mom” syndrome, which infects people who unaccountably say they would not be caught dead in a minivan. Up high seating and a macho image in the crossover SUVs likely are other factors, as is the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

There’s nothing wrong with the big crossovers, as the tested 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum demonstrates. This is a plush vehicle with long distance comfort, decent performance, OK handling and foul weather capability because of the all-wheel drive.

Objectively, it doesn’t offer near the space and utility of its garage mate, the Sienna.

Yet in 2015, Highlander sales totaled 158,915 versus 137,497 for the Sienna.

The tested Limited Platinum model is the über Highlander. For $45,390, it comes equipped with every option on the orders list, including state of the art safety equipment like a pre-collision system with automatic braking, blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and hill start and downhill braking assist..

It also comes with what are becoming standard features on most vehicles: stability and traction control, antilock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, a rear camera and rear parking sensors.

In other respects, this Highlander is almost Lexus-like in its demeanor, with plenty of sound deadening technology for a quiet ride, a supple suspension system that absorbs the increasing bumps, grinds and potholes on the roads that governments at the local, state and federal levels seem unwilling or unable to repair.

Comfort is first rate in the first and second rows. The Limited Platinum tester was a seven passenger model with two captain’s chairs in the second row that delivered the same comfort and support as the two front seats. On the test model, perforated leather front seats were heated and cooled; second row seats had heaters.

A bench seat can be ordered for the second row, increasing the passenger capacity to eight, and the center rear position is reasonably comfortable thanks to a nearly flat floor.

The difficulty comes with the third row, which supposedly seats three. But it is small and cramped and suitable mainly for small children or in an emergency. Moreover, it takes physical dexterity to squirm back there, although a simple single lever flips the second row seat forward for access.

Family-friendly surroundings include an abundance of cup holders and dedicated spaces for juice boxes. A roll top console between the front seats easily accommodates a large purse, though it doesn’t lock.

In this era of proliferating subcompact and compact crossover SUVs, the Highlander feels quite big at first. But it is an inch shy of 15 feet long, so is maneuverable in traffic and reasonably easy to park once you get used to it.

There’s plenty of muscle from a 270-hp V6 engine with 248 lb-ft of torque, which delivers its power to all four wheels through a six speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive. City/highway/combined fuel consumption is 18/24/20 mpg, respectable for a 4,500-pound vehicle.

If you have a big family and travel a lot, and you want the confidence of all-wheel drive, the Toyota Sienna still should be your hauler of choice. But if you simply can’t abide a minivan, check out the Highlander.

Specifications

  • Model: 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6, 270 hp, 248 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic with all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet, 11 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 140/14 cubic feet (42, 83).
  • Weight: 4,508 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 5,000 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/24/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $45,390.
  • Price as tested: $45,390.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. For more information, see our .