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#3

in 2010 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $16,449 - $24,878
Original MSRP: $25,855 - $34,670
MPG: 20 City / 27 Hwy
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2010 Toyota Highlander Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2010 Highlander offers strong engine power and a smooth ride, though most complained about its numb steering and subpar handling.

  • "Compared with a traditional body-on-frame SUV, the unibody structure is less heavy and cumbersome, which gives the Highlander driving dynamics similar to those of a large car but with a high seating position." -- Car and Driver
  • "Performance could've used a bit of an increase in size. Some staffers went so far to say they had to double-check that it wasn't a hybrid Highlander they were driving, and not simply because of how quiet it is once you push the ignition button." -- AutoWeek
  • "Ultimately, the Highlander's performance bends under its own weight, but doesn't break. It's a soft ride and electric power steering provides a solid, but not precise, feel. Making it bigger naturally has caused it to add about 300 pounds, tipping the scales at 4,000 pounds." -- The Detroit News
  • "Although the redesigned Highlander is considerably larger and heavier than before, it's still easier to drive than most midsize SUVs, even those of the crossover variety." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Highlander comes with a 2.7-liter, 187-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Sport, SE and Limited models upgrade to a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 270 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed automatic. Reviewers largely preferred the extra power of the V6 engine.

According to the EPA, four-cylinder models achieve 20/27 mpg city/highway, which is on the high side for the class. Front-wheel drive V6 models achieve a less impressive 18/24 mpg city/highway, while all-wheel drive V6 models achieve 17/23 mpg.

  • "The 4-cylinder provides adequate acceleration overall. Passing punch is lacking, but its 6-speed automatic transmission has smooth shift action. Models with the conventional V6 engine have good all-around power. They're peppy off the line and competent during midrange passing." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Although we hadn't yet driven a Highlander with the new, 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine at publishing time, we don't expect it to move the roughly 4000-pound Highlander with any real gusto. The V-6 is far better suited to hauling around a Highlander loaded to the gills with occupants and their stuff." -- Car and Driver
  • "In accelerating to 60 mph from a full stop, we timed the Highlander at 7.9 seconds, which is reasonably speedy for an SUV." -- BusinessWeek
  • "We found the 3.5-liter V6 is buttery smooth. Also smooth is its five-speed automatic transmission, which downshifts seamlessly to provide ample passing punch." -- New Car Test Drive

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers found that the Highlander has car-like road manners and a soft ride. However, the Highlander's steering is a low point because of its numb feel.

  • "Among the best in class. Test Limited models floated smoothly over smaller bumps, though larger ones sometimes pounded through. Note that the Sport model has a sport suspension that rides more stiffly." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The suspension is tuned to give a quiet and supple ride that will absorb most road imperfections with ease, even when equipped with the optional 19-inch wheels." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Highlanders handle like tall, thoughtfully engineered station wagons. Ask them to change direction, and they do it without the trucky reluctance one often encounters in real S.U.V.'s." -- The New York Times
  • "Since Camry based, Highlander has car-like manners. Ride is soft so you don't get beat up and bounced around the cabin. But handling is very minivan-like. Expect wide swings in corners, lean in turns, and loose, less-than-pinpoint steering with a tendency to wander." -- Chicago Tribune
  • "Steering feel ... with Toyota's new electric assistance, felt numb, offering little feedback from the road to the driver's hands. On paved roads, the steering delivers a small but constant vibration that contradicts the feeling of separation." -- Popular Mechanics

Next Steps: 2010 Toyota Highlander

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