The 2018 Toyota Highlander is one of the best options available for a three-row crossover SUV. Thanks to a comfortable and quiet cabin, abundance standard features and the right size, it should serve you well as a family vehicle.
The 2018 Toyota Highlander shapes that are not as big as traditional truck-based SUVs such as the Toyota Sequoia, making it easier to maneuver around the city and still have a relatively usable three-row seating. The third-row is somewhat tighter than we expected, but the kids will sit comfortably there. Toyota also provides every Highlander with Toyota Safety Sense package, which includes lane departure intervention, adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
If you want a larger third-row crossover, you may have to consider the Volkswagen Atlas or Honda Pilot. Toyota is also a bit outdated in smartphone connectivity, you can not get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Highlander. But overall, this popular crossover is certainly worth a test drive.
Trim and Features
The 2018 Toyota Highlander is eight-passenger large crossover SUV available in six trim levels: LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, Limited and Limited Platinum. The optional second-row captain chairs reduce capacity to seven
The base LE comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, a height-adjustable driver seat, a rearview camera, rear air conditioning, a 60/40-split second-row seat (reclines, slides, folds), cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split third-row seat (folds, reclines), Bluetooth, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, five USB ports and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player. Also standard is the Toyota Safety Sense, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, lane departure intervention, forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
The 2018 Toyota Highlander LE Plus adds foglights, a flip-up rear window, a height-adjustable power liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power-adjustable driver seat, upgraded upholstery and trim, a higher-resolution 8-inch touchscreen, a variety of smartphone-connection apps, HD and satellite radio.
The XLE adds keyless entry and ignition, a sunroof, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems, roof rails, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an upgraded instrument panel, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, simulated leather third-row upholstery, second-row window sunshades, a navigation system, a 110-volt power outlet and Driver Easy Speak.
The SE is similar to the XLE but also add sport-themed styling elements, 19-inch wheels, sport-suspension tuning, LED running lights and sporty interior trim. The Limited starts with the XLE content and adds different 19-inch wheels, LED running lights, a rear cargo cover, rear parking sensors, driver-seat memory settings, ventilated and heated front seats, heated second-row captain chairs (optional on the XLE) and a 12-speaker JBL audio system.
The 2018 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum adds a 360-degree parking camera, automatic wipers, a panoramic sunroof, front parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats and Safety Connect emergency communications.
The Limited and Limited Platinum can be equipped with the optional second-row bench. A rear-seat entertainment system is optional on all except the LE and LE Plus.
The 2018 Toyota Highlander LE comes standard with front-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produce 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. EPA estimated fuel economy at 22 mpg combined (20 mpg city/24 mpg highway), which is barely better than the ratings for the stronger V6 engine.
Optional on the LE and standard on all other trims is a 3.5-liter V6 engine. It produces 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. All-wheel drive can be added to the V6 as an option. The front-wheel-drive V6 achieves an EPA estimated 23 mpg combined (21 mpg city/27 mpg highway), while the AWD V6 rated at 22 mpg combined (20 mpg city/26 mpg highway).
In performance testing, the 2018 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, which is about a second quicker than the average for this segment. An FWD Limited still outpaced most competitors with a run to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds.
Properly equipped, the 2018 Toyota Highlander LE can tow up to 1,500 pounds. All V6 models rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The hard plastic that was once the Highlander major deficiency has since been replaced by a pliable surface with luxurious stitching. The cluster gauge has a contemporary look thanks to some multifunctional information display located in the center. Although the 6.1-inch touch screen is slightly basic in form and function, the available 8-inch screen is more satisfying with improved functionality and graphics.
Toyota has added a number of practical storage features into the 2018 Highlander interior. There’s a unique built-in shelf on the dashboard that can work as a place to put your phone and other small personal items. But the short height of the rack can make it difficult to fit your hands in there to place or take the stuff. Wider is the storage box under the console armrest that big enough for a large purse.
If you are expecting a spacious space in the 2018 Toyota Highlander, you should know that adults will find the third-row relatively narrow compared to some rivals. Kids will be fine, and the three seats strengthen the Highlander status as a minivan replacement. Behind the third row there are 14 cubic feet of cargo space, and folding all the rear seats will open a maximum of 83.7 cubic feet, an average figure for this class. The height-adjustable power liftgate with memory height settings is also a benefit in garages with low ceilings.
Official pricing for the base LE starts at $32,025 (prices include the $995 destination fee). The LE Plus start from $36,455, while the popular XLE starting at $39,915. The SE starting price of $41,085 and the Limited begins at $43,075. The range-topping Limited Platinum costing $47,655.