By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
Toyota's 2013 Highlander crossover SUV continues to impress with its abilities, features and resale value. The vehicle that basically invented the segment, the Highlander established its beachhead and never let go. No longer the smallish tall wagon that it was originally, the 2013 version (still just the second generation) has grown considerably in size and sophistication. That growth translates into a roomy, 7-passenger SUV ideal for growing families. Sharing much of its architecture with the Lexus RX 350 luxury SUV gives the Highlander another leg up on its competition, as does the vehicle's impressive ability to hold its value over time. There is a hybrid model that attains best-in-class fuel economy without sacrificing power or interior space.
When you combine the 2013 Toyota Highlander's wide model range, exceptional resale value and strong owner-satisfaction figures, it may look hard to justify buying anything else.
The Toyota Highlander's only change for 2013 is a rearrangement of standard equipment and trim-level packages. A new Highlander Plus package replaces what was the Tech package and adds some features, including a rearview camera.
Driving Impressions Between full-time 4-wheel drive (4WD) and electronic traction and stability control, the 2013 Toyota Highlander is about as confidence-inspiring as you could want on slick, variable surfaces. The 270-horsepower V6...... engine is smooth and responds instantly to the slightest request for more power. It moves the Highlander around smartly, and with EPA city/highway fuel-economy numbers of 17/22 mpg, the efficiency is there. Those willing to trade a little power and smoothness for even better mpg should check out the 4-cylinder, front-wheel-drive (FWD) models, whose fuel-economy figures are a frugal 20/25. If money is no object and you want the best in fuel-stretching technology, shoot for the Highlander Hybrid. Regardless of powertrain, the Highlander delivers the expected on-road experience. Ride and handling qualities are finely developed but conservatively targeted, meaning no one will be either inspired or let down.
CENTER STOW SEAT
This clever feature allows the second row of seats to be converted from 3-across to 2-across seating, opening a convenient pass-through area to access the third-row seats. The central seat panel stows easily out of sight.
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 4WD models) during slippery descents.
The 2013 Toyota Highlander SUV has an attractive if somewhat conservative interior. Big round knobs on the dash for the radio and climate control are easy to use even when wearing bulky winter gloves. There are loads of little storage spaces thoughtfully placed, and the rear-most occupants get their own climate controls. The Highlander features a sliding second-row seat that can move 4.7 inches fore or aft depending on where you need to maximize space. And a flexible center section can serve as a middle seat, a console, or fold away to create an easy path to the third-row seat.Exterior
The 2013 Toyota Highlander has a sporty and dashing look to it. Rather than going for a macho and rugged SUV-like image, Toyota has targeted buyers who want the functionality of a big SUV in a vehicle that is both strong and intelligent. The Highlander SUV's profile is lower than a Chevy Traverse's or Dodge Durango's, which makes sense given it shares a common platform with the Toyota Camry. Large rear doors provide more space to easily access the third-row seat, and the flip-up tailgate opens high to minimize bumping your head on the corners.
The base front-wheel-drive (FWD) 2013 Toyota Highlander rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes with halogen headlights, AM/FM/CD MP3/WMA-capable 6-speaker stereo, tilt/telescope steering wheel, clever second-row fold-away Center Stow seat and 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 4WD versions include standard Downhill Assist Control. The Highlander Hybrid comes very well equipped, as what was the Leather Premium package is now the base spec.
Options available on the 2013 Toyota Highlander are largely bundled into the Plus, SE and Limited equipment packages. They offer such niceties as an 8-way power driver's seat, a flip-up liftgate window, fog lights, upgraded seat fabric, automatic climate control, power moonroof, rear-seat entertainment system, power liftgate and a navigation system with premium audio, voice activation and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Four-wheel drive is available in all grades with the V6 only; the 4-cylinder engine, with front-drive only, is available in base and Plus configurations.
The 2013 Toyota Highlander crossover SUV uses a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine in FWD versions of the base, Highlander Plus and SE trim levels. A 3.5-liter V6 is optional on those, standard on the Limited, and mandatory with all 4WD applications. The 2.7 liter scores well on fuel efficiency and power, with 187 horsepower and upward of 25 mpg in highway driving. The 4-cylinder engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission while the V6 model makes do with an electronically controlled 5-speed automatic. The Highlander Hybrid teams the 3.5-liter V6 with two electric motors for a total of 280 net horsepower. The Hybrid's unique on-demand 4WD system uses a second electric motor powering the rear wheels, avoiding the need for transfer gears and a shaft.
187 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 mpg (FWD only)
270 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 mpg (FWD), 17/22 mpg (4WD)
3.5-liter V6/AC 650-volt permanent-magnet motors
231 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm (gas engine)/280 horsepower (net combined)
215 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/28 mpg (4WD only)
The 2013 Toyota Highlander SUV starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $30,000 for a base, front-drive, 4-cylinder model, and about $2500 more for a 4WD, V6 version. The top-line Limited trim runs from about $38,700 to $43,000. The Highlander Hybrid starts close to $41,000 and tops out about $51,000. We expect our Fair Purchase Price values to reflect real-world transaction prices at or near sticker price. Toyota Highlander resale values typically are some of the strongest in its class. A Hyundai Veracruz, as an alternative, offers a lower price for a comparably equipped model but won't have the Highlander's strong resale value. The V6-powered Honda Pilot is probably the closest competitor in terms of price, features and resale.
By Anotheroldtimer on Monday, September 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quiet, pleasure to drive, great sound system."
Cons: "Nothing that 400hp wouldnt cure."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in my 2008 se after 89,000 mi on a 2013 Limited. It was used one owner with 958 mi.(to me that's new) Got it for 21K and trade. I feel we got a good deal. I love the second Gen. Highlander. Not so fond of the 2014&15 they made some changes that I just don't like. This 13 is so nice, with all the extras. AWD is a must for us, with mountain snow and all. It rides smooth and quite, steering is same as my 08, so no surprise that you have to pay attention. I'm still getting used to all the gizmos, Bluetooth, Nav system, Love the JBL speakers a big improvement over the 08 we had. My wife likes the power lift hatch. I love the remote start, I can get it cooling down without even going outside. The reliability was the real reason we bought another. I had zero problems with my 08 and was just about to get the brakes done when we found this new one. Just Syn. oil, tiers and wipers. We're close to retirement so having the higher end model will be nice. I don't plan to buy another car ever and I think this will be good for about 300Kmi with proper care. I've never used the third row seats on either car but it's nice to know I can. Some day we may take the grand kids on a trip. The running boards do help my Mom get in and out. She's 89 now with bad knees, she likes the leather Captain seats in the second row. I would recommend a Highlander to anyone looking at an SUV, and if it's in your budget, get the higher end Highlander it's worth the extra cash. It's not for serious off road but it can handle most gentle trails with ease. Towing is good at 5000lb rating. Power is a modest but good 270hp. It will step lively when you need it and MPG is good. Resale value I think is good, we made a good trade on my 08. The moon roof and roof rack is nice for those things that don't quite fit in the back. I honestly cant find anything to complain about in this new model. It's every bit as good as the 08 but the upgrade to a Limited is so much nicer and pleasant to drive."
10 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By royalray on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Dependable safe and good looking..."
Cons: "Seems like its floating on turns....but its not."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car but it floats on turns and although very stable it sometimes doesn't feel that way...A great safe vehicle...I would definitely purchase another...but I don't think this one will wear out!"
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By RTC on Thursday, August 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price, Smooth Ride, Great Family Vehicle"
Cons: "Gas Mileage is about 20mpg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Wonderful vehicle! Great price! Holds its value. This is the second Highlander I've leased. The lease price has been really affordable. I love the smooth ride and the space. It's a great vehicle for moving kids around, hauling dirt and plants for the garden, and carting a wet dog home from the lake. It handles really nicely for an SUV and the third row seating is great for kids. My only wish is that the gas mileage was better. I average 19 mpg going to and from work. On long trips I get 24 to 25 mpg on the highway."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful