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2011 Toyota Highlander

Overview
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2011 Toyota Highlander Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.2

The Highlander has been a family favorite for ten years running, a reliable, comfortable and dependable way to move passengers and cargo around without breaking the bank at the dealership or the gas pump. Growing in size and opulence over the years, many Highlander owners consider their vehicles to be nearly Lexus-like inside, which is not surprising considering the Highlander shares much of its structure with the Lexus RX 350. Environmentally conscious consumers can benefit from the Highlander Hybrid, an option not offered on any of the Highlander's competitors. Although it receives a minor update this year, the Highlander's styling is nowhere as distinctive as its upscale cousin. But, the Highlander offers its owners multiple benefits that include excellent ratings in the areas of safety, service and reliability, not to mention resale.

You'll Like This Car If...

If a well-regarded mid-size crossover with standard third row tops your wish list, you should take a good look at this one. It's feature-laden, neither too big nor too small and should prove reliable for many years.

You May Not Like This Car If...

For buyers with more specialized needs or wants, the Highlander's well-rounded personality might not be as appealing as the sporty character of the Mazda CX-9 or Ford Flex. Similarly, the Highlander can't match the higher towing capacity of the Nissan Pathfinder or Chevrolet Traverse.

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the Toyota Highlander receives new front and rear fascias, hood and bumpers, plus expanded availability of the four-cylinder engine and standard three-row seating with rear climate controls. The hybrid model gains a more powerful V6 engine, while the entire line has access to more high-tech features.

Driving the Highlander

Driving Impressions We drove one of our test Highlander Limited 4x4s in intermittent rain on alternating wet and dry asphalt and found it confidence-inspiring all the while. Even if it isn't as...

fast as the V6 version of the RAV4, its little brother, the Highlander's 270-horsepower V6 is about as silky and powerful as you'll find in the category. Informal zero-to-60 miles-per-hour acceleration tests showed the Highlander to accelerate with sport sedan alacrity, while we noted fuel economy ranging between 16 and 20 miles per gallon. Except for its still difficult-to-access third row, the Highlander's seating was roomy and comfortable, and its ride, handling and braking excellent.

Center Stow Seat
This clever feature allows the second row of seats to be converted from three-across to two-across seating, opening a convenient pass-through area to access the third-row seats. The seat stows easily out of sight in the center console.

Hill-Start and Downhill Assist Control
If you live in rolling terrain, you'll appreciate these features that prevent the Highlander from rolling backward at a stop on steep up-grades and controls downhill speed (on non-hybrid four-wheel drive models) during slippery descents.

2011 Toyota Highlander Details
Interior

The Highlander's spacious interior is at once conservative, functional and attractive. Nice touches include huge round knobs for the primary radio and climate controls – easy to find and operate even while wearing gloves – and plenty of convenient spots for things like drinks and cell phones. The steering wheel offers manual tilt and telescope adjustment and, on Limited models, easy-to-access audio and climate control buttons. The reclining second-row seats also slide 4.7 inches fore-aft and offer a lift-out middle seat cushion for pass-through into the rear row, while the third-row seat can comfortably accommodate not only children but even limber adults, at least on shorter trips.

Exterior
2011 Toyota Highlander photo

Styled in California, the 2011 Highlander design intentionally moves away from traditional SUV styling. Toyota says it makes a statement of strength instead of ruggedness, intelligence over toughness. We can tell you that it is an attractive vehicle that is designed more to blend into the automotive landscape than stand out from it. While it's definitely more curvaceous than the original Highlander, it offers a traditional SUV profile but is lower and more car-like, which makes sense based on its Camry roots. It is not as distinctive as the Hyundai Veracruz or the Buick Enclave crossovers, for instance, but it is handsome. Available 19-inch wheels help balance the more substantial look.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base front-wheel-drive Highlander rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes with halogen headlamps, AM/FM/CD MP3/WMA-capable six-speaker stereo, tilt/telescope steering wheel, interchangeable Center Stow seat and center console, third-row 50/50 split-bench seat and an aerodynamic rear spoiler. Standard safety features include seven airbags, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. The Sport trim adds 19-inch wheels/tires, a back-up camera, a USB port, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-CD changer and a 3.5-inch multifunction display. The top-of-the line Limited coddles its owners with full leather and woodgrain trim, power front seats, dual-zone climate control and a "smart" keyless entry and ignition system.

Optional Equipment

Options available on the base Highlander include the Tech Audio package that adds USB port, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, backup monitor with 3.5-inch multi-information display, an eight-way power driver's seat, a flip-up liftgate window, fog lamps, upgraded seat fabric and a rear cargo cover. Stepping up to a Sport or Limited brings a much broader spectrum of add-ons, most notably front dual-zone automatic climate control (standard on Limited), automatic rear air conditioning, multi-stage heated leather front seats, power moonroof, rear-seat entertainment system, power liftgate and a navigation system with premium audio, voice activation and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Four-wheel drive models are available in all V6 grades, while the front drive SE can now be ordered with the four-cylinder engine.

Under the Hood

The 2011 Highlander base and front-drive SE model is powered by a 2.7-liter four cylinder engine, while a larger V6 is optional on the base and standard on the Sport 4WD and Limited trims. The 2.7-liter is near the top of its class in the areas of fuel efficiency and power, with 187 horsepower on tap and upwards of 25 miles per gallon in highway driving. The Highlander V6 model packs a 270 horsepower 3.5-liter dual-variable-valve-timing V6 under its sculpted hood. The four-cylinder engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox, while the V6 model makes due with an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with selectable manual shift control.

2.7-liter in-line 4
187 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
186 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25

3.5-liter V6
270 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
248 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (FWD); 17/22 (4WD)

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2011 Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 351 Ratings for the 2008 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.0/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

more than i expected

By on Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "toyota quality and reliability, excellent in snow"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I have owned several Toyota models over the years and have never been disappointed in any way. This Highlander is no exception. The ride is smooth. The reliability is just what you'd expect from a Toyota. What really impressed me about this model was it's handling in the snow. I currently also own a Landcruiser so my expectations are quite high when it comes to bad weather driving. No, it's not on par with the Landcruiser but it does quite well for what it is. No complaints. Awesome alternative to the minivan (traded in our 99 sienna with almost 200k (trouble free) miles on it for this)."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Great vehicle

By on Thursday, January 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Quality through out"

Cons: "Trouble keeping windshield smear free."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Previously drove a 4 Runner. The Highlander keeps some of the features of the 4 Runner, but adds some luxuries."

8 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Went west, drove over 6,000 miles, average 26mpg

By on Thursday, January 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "It is easy to drive and very comfortable"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"highway. It 4 wheel drive, very comfortable, handles good on rough off road driving. Handles grades of 12% very good."

16 people out of 27 found this review helpful

Great family Vehicle (SE V6 Loaded)

By on Friday, January 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Good MPG, great family SUV, Value holds up"

Cons: "Driving dynamics, cheap interior plastics, Tires"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Great SUV so far with better MPG than expected. 19-21 in city and 23-25 MPG highway. Pretty good considering a strong V6 AWD. 3rd row seats are great for small kids. Second row seating is huge with a lot of space. Handling is only subpar and definitely not very responsive, but its not supposed to be either. Interior plastics are cheap, hard and not attractive, but everything is responsive and works well. Leather seats are a must but not comfortable or supportive on long highway trips, and we certainly take a lot of them. It is a must to get rid of Toyota's standard Toyo Tires ASAP as they wear fast and are not good in the snow. We like anything Yokohama on ours. Value holds up amazingly on these vehicles which was one of our selling points. The front grill looks great but overall body definitely needed an upgrade to its looks, which it got with the 14 model year."

9 people out of 18 found this review helpful

great SUV. I have bought new 2015 Highlander

By on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"good, serviceable vehicle. Just near perfect for my needs Only complaint is that fenders are easily displaced with minor dings."

3 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Excellent Vehicle.

By on Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,500

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
Not Rated

Pros: "Smooth running, handles excellent, a quality vehic"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The best SUV vehicle I have ever owned. The engine, transmission, and all functions are excellent.. Have not had one problem with it."

19 people out of 28 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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