2012 Toyota Highlander Review
Test drivers agree that overall, the 2012 Toyota Highlander is a good contender among three-row crossover SUVs, but shoppers who want a fun-to-drive family vehicle won't get it here.
Automotive journalists say that the 2012 Toyota Highlander performs well for a family-oriented crossover. Buyers who aren’t expecting stellar performance will be happy with the optional six-cylinder engine’s ample power, and those who prioritize fuel economy will find it with the base four-cylinder engine. Auto reviewers say that the Highlander has an exceedingly smooth and comfortable ride. Plus, families will love the easy-to-access third row and numerous storage cubbies.
However, the Toyota Highlander does have a few drawbacks. Its base engine is underpowered, and its third row isn’t as big as some competitors. And though its maximum cargo capacity is class-competitive, the cargo space behind the third row is pitiful.
Still, test drivers maintain that the Highlander is a reasonably-priced, comfortable minivan alternative that should be on the shopping list of anyone who’s considering a seven-seat crossover.
Other SUVs to Consider
Though the Toyota Highlander costs less than much of the competition, there are still some cheaper alternatives. The Kia Sorento is significantly less expensive than the Highlander, and comes with a cabin that’s similarly well-equipped and high-quality. But even though you’ll save money by opting for the Sorento over the Highlander, you’ll be trading off cargo capacity and third-row space as well.
If you want a sportier SUV and have a bigger budget, check out the Mazda CX-9. It costs a bit more than the Highlander, but reviewers say it’s a family SUV that’s actually fun to drive. Plus, it seats the same number of passengers as the Highlander, and its cargo capacity is even larger than the Toyota’s.
Details: Toyota Highlander
The Highlander comes in base, SE and Limited trims. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is reviewed separately. Since the Highlander was thoroughly refreshed in 2011, it doesn’t see any significant changes for the 2012 model year.
See the full list of 2012 Toyota Highlander specifications.
- "Highlander is a competent, refined, family-focused SUV that offers great practicality, cargo and passenger versatility, and evident quality.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The 2012 Toyota Highlander is an excellent choice for a do-all family vehicle, though several competitors offer more interior space and utility.” -- Edmunds
- "But let's not forget that the Highlander is a fine, capable, and well-built crossover in its own right.” -- Motor Trend