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#4

in 2011 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $20,725 - $29,456
Original MSRP: $28,090 - $37,045
MPG: 20 City / 25 Hwy
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2011 Toyota Highlander Interior

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

The Toyota Highlander's interior receives positive reviews for its family-friendly versatility. One of the only complaints is the sparse amount of cargo room with all three rows of seats in use.

  • "The 2011 Toyota Highlander features an attractive cabin, especially the top-of-the-line Limited model. Visibility is excellent, while the straightforward layout of gauges and controls makes for refreshingly intuitive operation." -- Edmunds
  • "The quieter interior you notice right away, because this is not your typical SUV, with a cabin more akin to a mid-price sedan. Even with the lower overall height, the driver still gets the feeling of an SUV's higher seating -- that 'I'm in control' position." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "It may not be the flashiest crossover, but it's hard to beat the Highlander's interior space and cargo room for its starting price, unless you want to consider a minivan." -- Cars.com

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Seating

For 2011, the Highlander gets standard seating for seven in three rows of seats. Though some complain that the third row is cramped, this is common for the class. In spite of this, almost every reviewer loves the third-row access thanks to a sliding and folding second-row bench.

If you routinely have passengers in your third row, a better option might be the Chevrolet Traverse, which is about $1,000 less and features seating for up to eight and a third row that's comfortable even for adults.

  • "In the previous version, the third-row seats seemed like an afterthought, but the latest Highlander's third row is spacious enough for smaller adults to use. Even compared with heavier full-size sport-utility vehicles, the Highlander features competitive interior space and comfort for seven occupants." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The front and second-row seats are plenty comfortable, but the third-row seats lack of legroom makes it best suited to pre-teen passengers." -- Edmunds
  • "It's behind the front seats that the Highlander shows its stuff, with more tricks than Cirque du Soleil. I especially liked the center section of the second row that turns two seats into three. Flip the padded section back and presto! A table! Lift the ends of the table and discover two big bins. Remove the whole thing, slide it under the front console, and walk through to row three." -- About.com

Interior Features

The base Highlander comes with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, power windows and door locks, keyless entry, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel and cruise control. It also features a family-friendly conversation mirror, which allows the driver to keep an eye on kids in the back without turning around. Note that very few options or upgrades are available for the base model.

A premium sound system with Bluetooth, a voice-activated navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system are optional for the SE and Limited models. However, make sure to consider the options packages carefully. The SE and Limited models offer Extra Value Packages that combine several optional features and can take up to $1,500 off the price of adding them individually (savings vary by package).

  • "The base Highlander lineup comes fairly well equipped, but buyers seeking more luxury and optional equipment such as a leather interior, a sunroof, a premium stereo, or satellite navigation will have to opt for the Sport or Limited trim level." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Highlander Limited comes with an impressive lineup of available cabin tech, which rivals that of SUVs from luxury brands like Acura and Infiniti." -- CNET
  • "The third row doesn't split, which is an absolute shame, and the 'Select' button on the DVD player in the rear was useless. After multiple failed attempts to select 'Play' (the curser always jumped to an unwanted location), my husband and I were happy to accidentally select the repeat-play feature because it meant the movie actually came on." -- Mother Proof

Cargo

Overall cargo space in the 2011 Highlander may be impressive, but space with all three rows in use still doesn't measure up to top rivals. With the third row in use, it provides just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo space (nearly the same amount of space as the considerably less expensive Dodge Journey). With the third and second rows folded down, it provides 42.3 and 95.4 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively.

By contrast, the Honda Pilot, which costs about $2,000 less than the Toyota, provides a more impressive 18 cubic feet behind its third row. Still, it provides less space than the Highlander overall -- only 87.0 cubic feet -- with the second and third rows folded down.

Small storage areas are a high point for the Highlander. Features include a center console with a whopping six cup holders, storage compartments and second-row seat vents. Two-row Sport models also get a cargo area under-floor storage compartment. Second-row seat one-touch fold-flat levers are standard on Sport and Limited models.

  • "Fold all the seats down, and the Highlander's 95.4 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume is class-competitive. With the second and third rows up, however, there's just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo volume -- small for this league." -- Cars.com
  • "Consider the matter of 10 cupholders and 4 bottle holders. Plus enough nook-and-cranny storage to please the Thomas English Muffin people." -- MarketWatch

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