We drove a $42,000 and a $50,000 Toyota Highlander to see why it's one of the best family SUVs money can buy — here's what we discovered

Toyota Highlander SE

  • The 2018 Toyota Highlander is one of the most popular crossover SUVs in the US. 
  • Toyota sold nearly 216,000 Highlanders last year, making it the third best-selling, mid-size SUV in America.
  • The 2018 Highlander starts at $31,230 while top-of-the-line Hybrid Limited Platinum models start at $48,480.
  • We loved the Toyota Highlander’s versatility and refinement, but we were disappointed with its poor driving dynamics and lackluster infotainment system. 

The Toyota Highlander has long been one of America’s most popular family crossover SUVs. In 2018, Toyota sold nearly 216,000 Highlanders in the US, making it the third best selling mid-size SUV behind only the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Through May, sales are up 12% this year with more than 92,000 Highlanders rolling off American dealer lots.

The Toyota Highlander originally debuted in 2000 as a softer, more family-friendly alternative to the company’s rugged and pricier 4Runner. After all, the Highlander is built on Toyota’s trusty K-platform that also underpins the Camry sedan and Sienna minivan.

Since then, the Highlander’s combination of versatility and reliability has earned the trust of America’s SUV buyers. With consumer demand for SUVs skyrocketing, the success of the Highlander is paramount for Toyota. In 2017, mid-size SUVs accounted for 14.6% of all vehicles sold in the US, making it the third largest segment in the market behind only full-size pickup trucks and compact SUVs. 

The third generation Highlander arrived in 2014 and received a refreshed front fascia in 2016. Recently, we got the chance to spend some quality time with the 2018 Toyota Highlander. 

Toyota lent us a pair of new Highlanders for evaluation in mid-grade SE V6 AWD and top-spec Hybrid Limited Platinum V6 AWD trim. Our grey SE carried an as-tested price of $42,545 while the brown Hybrid Limited Platinum stickered for $49,499. 

The base four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive Highlander LE starts at $31,230. 

Here’s a closer look at the 2018 Toyota Highlander:

Meet our Toyota Highlanders. Here’s Hybrid Limited Platinum and…

Here’s the SE.

The Highlander’s main rivals include the Ford Explorer,…

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