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2011 Toyota Highlander

Overview
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2011 Toyota Highlander Review

By

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 360 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

Outatanding SUV. Probably my last new car

By on Monday, April 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,600

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great reliability, all the goodies,plenty of room,"

Cons: "Poor OEM tires, wish it had memory seats."

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

"Searched all over to find a replacement for my 2007 Caddilac SRX (don't like the new style). The highlander won out over the Pilot in several areas. Bought the LTD model and for some reason Toyota deleted the compass when you have nav. But for $200, you can have the standard mirror replaced with a factory mirror with the compass. It's not a Caddilac, but it comes pretty close with the LTD package. Handles extremely well in rain/snow and has the best traction of any car I've had-even with those crummy OEM tires. I'm now 70, bet I'll never have to buy another vehicle for myself. Almost positive it will out live me. Never had a problem nor has anybody I know had anything major with their Toyotas."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Comfortable for 6'6" driver, poor gas mileage

By on Saturday, April 11, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 92,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"Overall, I am pleased w/2008 Highlander. Has been extremely reliable, no major repairs in 8 years. On the downside, the tires wear out very quickly. Gas mileage is mediocre. Handling is a little "clunky" or truck-like. Headlights could be more effective. Audio system/speakers should be improved. But, when I keep a car for 8-plus years, it usually means that I am pleased with the vehicle."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Very good and reliable vehicle

By on Monday, April 06, 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: "Fun to drive gets 27 mph highway and 19 city"

Cons: "Has very large blind spots on both rear sides"

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

"I purchased vehicle new in 2012. I purchased because of the reputation for good mileage and low maintenance costs. It came with a good 30,000 mile two free service which was nice since I do a lot of driving. I have only had to replace the tires and have had no major failures or breakdowns. I have just turned 50,000 miles and its still running good. It handles well at 70 to 80 MPH only glitch is that since it is front wheel drive it will tend to crawl to the left or right when you are stopped and then punch the accelerator. I guess this is typical of front wheel drives. Riuns good in snow and wet weather."

Solid pluses, definite minuses

By on Sunday, March 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4

"The same things that attracted me initially are what I continue to like about this 2013 4WD SE: Toyota reliability and "brand," powerful and very refined V6 (this engine is quiet and QUICK, best in class,) effective cold weather package and winter handling, compliant Camry-based ride, drive characteristics are great (in fact, the critics claim that it drifts too much in hwy driving is not accurate, it does fine in that regard--just my experience.) For a "heavy" 4wd veichle, this car is nimble and impressively quick for passing and getting out of trouble. Again, very strong engine is probably the car's best asset. Also, all the options work just as advertised. HOWEVER: interior fit and finish was subpar on this car, turns out 2013 was not good for Toyota overall in this regard. Too much cheap plastic up front. and so not surprisingly, several ANNOYING rattles quickly developed in the dash area (been in for it, fixed one big one but the others elude a solution.) Also an equally annoying wind noise rattle from somewhere in the rear at hwy speeds. No excuse for this in a $36,000 car. I HATE RATTLES!! Also, the leather seats always did look kind of cheap (definitely not "plush") and have not "broken in" as comfortable enough for extended driving, and the armrests and console are thinly padded and not placed well enough for either me or my wife. New car, and my wife has to use a cushion to compensate for the lack of seat comfort! If I had to, I could live with this car given its obvious strong points, but two years into a three-year lease, I'm looking to get out of it if I can without losing my shirt."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Great looking ride

By on Sunday, March 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,075

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great acceleration,cool look,good gas"

Cons: "no hands free phone hook up"

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

"I've owned my Highlander for a little over 2 years now, I purchased her with 18,000 miles and she is now at 35,075. Very minor flaws and minor flaws they are. Great condition, dark window tint and aggressive/cool tire tread."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

2nd highlander. Love it

By on Thursday, March 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,500

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: "Comfy, roomy, 4 cup holders."

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

"Looking to trade in for newer model. Love it. 2nd highlander. Bought 1 st one new. 2nd one used and going now for 3rd used!"

7 people out of 7 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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