The 2018 Toyota Highlander is one of the best picks available for a versatile three-row crossover SUV. Thanks to a comfortable and quiet ride, abundant standard features and a just-right size, it should serve you well as a do-all family hauler.
While the Highlander isn't as big as traditional truck-based SUVs such as Toyota's Sequoia, it's easier to maneuver around town, yet it still has three relatively usable rows of seating. The third row is a bit tighter than we'd like, but kids will fit just fine back there. We also like how Toyota outfits every Highlander with its Toyota Safety Sense bundle, which include adaptive cruise control, lane departure intervention, and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
If you need a crossover with a roomier third row, you'll probably be happier with a Honda Pilot or Volkswagen Atlas. Toyota's also a bit behind the times in smartphone connectivity — you can't get Android Auto or Apple CarPlay on the Highlander. Overall, though, this popular and well-rounded crossover is certainly worth a test drive.
The 2018 Toyota Highlander is a large three-row crossover SUV with seating for eight, but optional second-row captain's chairs reduce capacity to seven. There are LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited and Limited Platinum trim levels. The LE isn't a stripped-down model, but its standard four-cylinder engine is a bummer. The LE Plus has key upgrades such as the V6 engine (optional on the LE), a power liftgate and tri-zone automatic climate control, while the XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum essentially slather on luxury features. The SE stands out with unique styling and sportier driving dynamics.
The base LE comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (185 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The 3.5-liter V6 (295 hp, 263 lb-ft) that's standard on all other trims is optional on the LE and comes paired with an eight-speed automatic. All-wheel drive can be added to the V6 as an option.
Other standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, rear privacy glass, the Toyota Safety Sense bundle (automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure intervention, and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking), a rearview camera, rear air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split second-row seat (slides, reclines, folds), a 60/40-split third-row seat (reclines, folds), five USB ports, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player.
The LE Plus adds a height-adjustable power liftgate, a flip-up rear window, foglights, tri-zone automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery and trim, a power-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a higher-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, and a variety of smartphone-connection apps.
On top of the LE Plus' equipment, the XLE adds a sunroof, roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems, an upgraded instrument panel, leather upholstery (first and second rows), simulated leather third-row upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, second-row window sunshades, a 110-volt power outlet, Driver Easy Speak (carries the driver's voice through the rear speakers to distant passengers) and a navigation system.
The SE is equipped similarly to the XLE but has LED running lights, sport-themed styling elements and suspension tuning, 19-inch wheels and sporty interior trim.
The Limited starts with the XLE's content and adds LED running lights, different 19-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, a rear cargo cover, heated and ventilated front seats, driver-seat memory settings, heated second-row captain's chairs (optional on the XLE) and a 12-speaker JBL audio system.
The Limited Platinum gains a panoramic sunroof, automatic wipers, a 360-degree parking camera, front parking sensors, Safety Connect emergency communications, a heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats.
The Limited and Limited Platinum can be optionally equipped with the second-row bench. A rear-seat entertainment system is optional on all but the LE and LE Plus.