Please Wait....

    2018 Toyota Highlander Buying Guide | A popular 3-row crossover, explained

    The Toyota Highlander is a quiet and comfortable midsize crossover with three rows of seating, a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, along with two engine options. Redesigned for the 2017 model year, the 2018 Highlander carries over with minimal changes.

    While the base four-cylinder engine sounds fine on paper, the optional V6 is the much better choice. Not only does it have extra power, it's also more fuel efficient since it doesn't have to work as hard to keep the Highlander moving. There is seating for seven or eight passengers, depending on whether you order the second-row bench seat, or separate captain's chairs. While the third-row is handy for families, its limited room makes it best used only for kids. Safety is a high priority in the Highlander and standard features include forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and lane departure warning.

    Here you'll find all the information needed to make an educated buying decision if you're considering a 2018 Toyota Highlander, including safety and reliability ratings, engine specs, horsepower, fuel economy ratings and pricing. We'll also summarize what Autoblog's professional auto reviewers think of the Highlander.

    Is the 2018 Toyota Highlander Safe?

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Toyota Highlander an overall crash-test rating of five stars, the highest score possible. Tested in both front and all-wheel drive format, the two versions of Highlander scored the same four-star rating in front impact tests and rollover resistance. In side crash tests, the Highlander registered a five-star rating.

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which provides ratings for new vehicles based on its own comprehensive crash tests, gave the Highlander a "Top Safety Pick" rating. The Highlander scored a "good" rating – the highest possible – in all crash tests, with the exception of one "acceptable" score related to the effectiveness of its headlights.

    Ratings may differ for Highlanders from other model years, so be sure to visit the NHTSA and IIHS websites to review ratings on the specific vehicle you're researching.

    At the time of this writing, the 2018 Highlander is subject to two ongoing recalls according to the NHTSA. The first involves a brake assist vacuum pump. If it fails, the result could be a sudden loss of braking assist. This recall affects 6,046 vehicles in total. The second recall involves an incorrect load information label, which could lead an owner to overload the vehicle. This recall involves only 649 vehicles.

    Is the Toyota Highlander reliable?

    J.D. Power most recently reviewed initial quality in the 2017 Highlander, which is almost identical to the 2018 model. It gave the Highlander four out of five possible stars for Overall Quality. When it came to the two other main categories – Overall Performance and Design, along with Predicted Reliability – the 2017 Highlander registered three out of five stars, which J.D. Power classifies as an "about average" rating.

    A note about J.D. Power's methodology: we have some rather serious issues with the way it weights serious and less serious reliability issues. Read more about that here.

    How much interior and cargo room does the Highlander have?

    The 2018 Toyota Highlander seats up to eight people in total, with 44.2 inches of front leg room, 38.4 inches in the second row, and 27.7 inches in the third row. Passengers get 40.7 inches of front head room and 39.9 inches in the second-row seats.

    The Highlander offers 13.8 cubic feet of cargo volume with the third-row seats in the upright position. This expands to 42.3 cu. ft. with them folded down, and 83.7 cu. ft. with both the third- and second-row seats folded.

    Find 2018 Toyota Highlander pricing, information, and even ones on sale near you.

    What are the Highlander engines and specs?

    The entry-level Highlander LE comes with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder that delivers 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm. Coupled to a 6-speed automatic transmission – the only gearbox offered across the entire range – the Highlander LE is available only in front-wheel drive format.

    Higher trim levels come with a choice of front- and all-wheel drive, along with the more powerful V6 engine. This 3.5-liter engine delivers 296 hp and 263 lb.-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm.

    What fuel economy does the Highlander get?

    Ironically, the four-cylinder engine is the least fuel efficient. The EPA rates the standard Highlander LE with the 2.7-liter four-cylinder at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway. Highlanders fitted with front-wheel drive and the optional 3.5-liter V6 return 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway. Adding all-wheel drive to the V6 engine drops mileage only slightly. A Highlander equipped with the V6 and AWD has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway.

    Is there a hybrid Highlander?

    Yes, there is a hybrid version of the Highlander. This model comes with a gas-electric powertrain and AWD, and returns 30 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

    Does the Highlander have AWD?

    Only the base Highlander LE with the four-cylinder engine comes with front-wheel drive as the only powertrain choice. All other trim levels offer AWD as an option.

    What is the MSRP of the Highlander?

    The 2018 Highlander LE has a starting MSRP of $31,030 and goes up to $46,660 for the Limited Platinum trim fitted with the V6 and optional AWD. A mid-range Highlander XLE V6 AWD carries a starting price of $40,380.

    Use Autoblog's Smart Car Buying program powered by TrueCar to search out competitive local pricing and savings on the 2018 Toyota Highlander.

    Can I read the latest review of the Highlander?

    Autoblog reviewed the Highlander when it was updated for the 2017 model year. Since the 2018 model is almost entirely the same, our comments and impressions still apply.

    The Highlander is an accomplished vehicle for families, or anyone who simply needs the space and versatility that come with a three-row crossover. While the third-row is too cramped to be used by adults, the rest of the Highlander's cabin scores solid marks for space and comfort.

    The 2018 Highlander lineup is extensive and includes the base LE, SE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum models. All but the entry-level model has AWD optional, not to mention the more powerful V6 – given the poor economy of the four-cylinder, the six-cylinder should be your default choice.

    The higher you venture up the trim levels, the more luxury is added to the Highlander. A Limited Platinum model is fitted with convenience touches like leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, tri-zone climate control, panoramic moonroof and surround-view parking camera, to name just a few.

    To get a sense of how the Highlander's closest competitors stack up, use our Compare Cars tool.

    Related Video:
    Story Page