The 2019 Toyota Highlander is a family crossover SUV with three rows of seats and space for up to eight occupants. It has morphed from mid- to nearly full-size over the
years and has become one of our favorite versatile family cars for its spacious interior, impressive safety record, and strong, reliable V-6 engine option.
All in, the 2019 Highlander scores 6.5 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Highlander received a visual refresh a few years ago, and the changes for 2019 are all cosmetic as well. The SE trim gets blacked-out headlights, taillights, wheels, and fog lamps, while other trim levels feature a new black plastic rocker panel on the sides and a few more chrome touches. The 2019 Highlander is available in a myriad of trim levels, including LE, LE Plus, SE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum, many of which can be ordered with a hybrid powertrain.
The 306-horsepower, V-6-powered Highlander Hybrid is one of the most fuel-efficient large crossovers, but the majority on dealer lots are powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with 295 hp. The base powertrain is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder with just 185 hp and comes only with front-wheel drive. The rest of the Highlander lineup can be had with all-wheel drive. For all but the lightest duty use, either of the V-6 Highlanders provides good acceleration. The Highlander has a soft, luxurious ride and it handles well for a vehicle that can seat up to eight in comfort.The Highlander’s blocky styling might suggest a more rugged side than competitors like the Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot, but the Highlander is still a car-based crossover meant to handle inclement weather, not off-road trails. For those looking to hit the unpaved path, Toyota offers the plenty-capable 4Runner.
What the Highlander does better is haul passengers. Its front and middle rows are spacious and comfortable and even the third row has decent room for older children or smaller adults. A well thought-out interior with excellent small item storage adds to its appeal.
Toyota has also fitted the Highlander with standard active safety technology, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights, and this family crossover also earns five stars in federal crash tests.
The Highlander’s myriad trim levels span a nearly $20,000 range from a $32,000 base Highlander to the plush, Lexus-like Highlander Limited at about $50,000 in Hybrid trim. No Highlander is spartan, but they’re the among the only three-row crossovers on the market without Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality.