2021 Toyota Highlander

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2021 Toyota Highlander Review: Fighting To Keep The Crown

by Aiden Eksteen

With over two decades to refine the recipe for success, the now fourth-generation 2021 Toyota Highlander continues to offer polished performance, versatility, practicality, and leading safety and reliability standards. Its long-standing excellence and continued refinement have led the Highlander to become the best-selling midsize SUV in the USA. Though significantly enhanced and modernized for the current market, Toyota still upholds the same winning recipe. Beneath the modish hood of the 2021 Highlander is a naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine that churns out up to 295-horsepower for the SUV's front- or all-wheel drivetrains. A lot of exceptional sport-utility vehicles have entered the fray to do battle in he popular classification, so the Highlander SUV's competition is tougher than ever before. The Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Honda Pilot are all also very compelling options, so does the Highlander still have what it takes to remain at the top?

Read in this review:

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2021 Toyota Highlander Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Highlander?

The big news is the addition of the Toyota Highlander XSE model, a designation generally reserved for sportier models. To differentiate it from the rest of the range, Toyota adds black exterior accents, model-specific 20-inch alloys, and a sportier suspension setup. All models now feature projector LED lights as standard, and Toyota's Safety Sense 2.5+ is also standard across the range. This safety suite includes pedestrian detection, road sign assist, and dynamic radar cruise control.

Pros and Cons

  • Polished, compliant, and quiet ride
  • Versatile and practical seating
  • Generous consignment of features
  • Extensive safety consignment
  • Superb safety rating and reliability
  • Mundane handling dynamics
  • Overly cluttered dashboard
  • Third-row seats aren't for adults

Best Deals on 2021 Toyota Highlander

2021 Toyota Highlander Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
Hybrid LE
2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
Hybrid XLE
2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Toyota Highlander Trims and Specs

2021 Highlander Exterior

2021 Toyota Highlander Front View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Highlander Rear View CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Highlander Front Angle View CarBuzz
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  • Length 194.9 in
  • Wheelbase 112.2 in
  • Height 68.1 in
  • Max Width 76.0 in
  • Front Width 65.3 in
  • Rear Width 65.4 in
  • Curb Weight 4,145.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Celestial Silver Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Opulent Amber
  • Blueprint
  • Blizzard Pearl, Build Out: 04/30/2021
  • Moon Dust
  • Ruby Flare Pearl
  • Moon Dust, *PRICE TO FOLLOW*

2021 Highlander Performance

2021 Toyota Highlander Forward Vision Toyota
2021 Toyota Highlander Engine Bay CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Highlander Driving Back View Toyota

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid, 3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    8-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

2021 Highlander Interior

2021 Toyota Highlander Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Highlander Steering Wheel Controls CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 42.0 in
  • Front Head Room 41.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 41.0 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.4 in

2021 Highlander Trunk and Cargo Space

2021 Toyota Highlander Third Row Seats Folded CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Highlander Trunk Space CarBuzz
2021 Toyota Highlander Cargo Room CarBuzz

2021 Highlander Safety and Reliability


  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    2 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Maintenance:
    2 Years \ 25,000 Miles

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the 2021 Toyota Highlander A Good SUV?

The 2021 Toyota Highlander is perhaps the closest thing the perfect 5-door family SUV at a very reasonable price. It just ticks all the right boxes when it comes to what the savvy family head would look for safe and comfortable family traveling. It's a good-looking vehicle, too, but one that prioritizes comfort and convenience above all else. It delivers solid performance and good fuel economy returns, its ride is quiet and refined, and if you need to tow anything under 5,000 lbs, it'll do it with ease. There are all the features a family could need as well as a comprehensive array of driver aids and safety systems. The interior is spacious and comfortable, barring the third-row seats, but when are grandad and grandma ever relegated to the hindmost quarters?

After an in-depth review of the 2021 Toyota Highlander, both the NHTSA and the IIHS availed the nameplate with superb ratings and even a Top Safety Pick+ award. That standard is matched by Toyota's firmly established proclivity for long-term reliability.

Though not the most fun or engaging car to drive, the Highlander is one of the most pragmatic cars money can buy. It's comfortable, safe, and dependable - ideal for an family.

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2021 Toyota Highlander Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Toyota Highlander:

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