2021 Toyota Highlander

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2021 Toyota Highlander Review: Fighting To Keep The Crown

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:

8.6
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2021 Toyota Highlander Changes: ๐Ÿš™Whatโ€™s the difference vs 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 Highlander

2021 Toyota Highlander Trims and Prices

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
L
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$35,085
LE
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,285
XLE
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$40,085
XSE
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$41,680
Limited
3.5L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$44,040

Highlander Exterior

2021 Toyota Highlander Front View CarBuzz
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Dimensions

  • 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
  • Moon Dust
  • Ruby Flare Pearl

Highlander Performance

2021 Toyota Highlander Forward Vision Toyota
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2021 Toyota Highlander Driving Back View Toyota

Engine and Transmission

With its commanding size and a 4,000-pound plus curb weight, the 2021 Highlander SUV employs the services of a 3.5-liter V6 gas engine that's been modulated to produce up to 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. Power from the V6 is delivered in a level-headed and smooth fashion, but its getting a little peaky and outmoded and will need to be worked hard especially with a full cabin. It comes mated with a fairly pleasant 8-speed automatic transmission that delivers quiet and efficient shifts. Both front- and all-wheel drive are available across the board. To attain the Highlanders 5,000-pound maximum towing capacity, you'll only need to opt in the towing package.

  • Engine
    3.5L V6 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Highlander Gas Mileage

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    17.9 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 21/29 mpg
* 2021 Toyota Highlander L FWD

Highlander Interior

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Seating and Interior Space

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

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

Highlander Safety and Reliability

Warranty

  • 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: ๐Ÿ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.

๐Ÿš—What Toyota Highlander Model Should I Buy?

With the 2021 Toyota Highlander SUV's price coming in at $35,085 and topping off at $49,190, it's clear that there's a fair amount of choice for this model year. As is typically the case, we'd recommend going for one of the mid-spec models where one can find the most value for their money. Not quite so coincidentally, this is where Toyota positioned the all-new XSE model, which, with its sporty adornments and luxury features, is a really compelling option. It comes fitted with LED headlights, a mesh grille and sportier bumper, black roof rails, fanciful 20-inch alloy wheels, and a twin-tip exhaust. It also comes standard with keyless entry, push-button start, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, leather seating upholstery, and tri-zone automatic climate control.

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Toyota Highlander Popular Comparisons

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2021 Toyota Highlander Video Review

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