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2013 Toyota Highlander

Overview
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2013 Toyota Highlander Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need an SUV that can be taken off-road, or that can tow more than 5,000 pounds, a Toyota 4Runner or Dodge Durango with a HEMI V8 might be a better choice.

What's New for 2013

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 the Highlander

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.

2013 Toyota Highlander Details
Interior

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
2013 Toyota Highlander photo

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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.

2.7-liter inline-4
187 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/25 mpg (FWD only)

3.5-liter V6
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)

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2013 Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 339 Ratings for the 2008 - 2013 models.

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

Reliable, quiet. Few luxuries,

By on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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

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
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"A very quiet motor, comfortable, great for hauling things. The steering column is a pain because it does not tilt automatically. The wipers and cruise controls are in a location behind the steering wheel. It is sometimes difficult to see which setting you want. The rear wiper is not wide enough. The carpet is very thin and cheap. Unless they have made these changes, I would not buy this model again."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

No problems, no complaints. Would buy again.

By on Monday, October 06, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130,000

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Cons: "Model I have does not have outdoor temp display"

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

"This has been a solid, reliable vehicle. Over the past 20 years, I have gone through several vehicles. My Highlander is the one vehicle that I've had longer than any other. It serves all my needs and is a dream to drive a 16 hour round trip in, which we do a few times a year to visit relatives/vacation. Its comfortable, quiet and performs exceptionally well."

9 people out of 16 found this review helpful

My second Highlander. Best car for me.

By on Monday, September 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200

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

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."

14 people out of 22 found this review helpful

Great family vehicle....

By on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000

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
6/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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

Great Vehicle

By on Thursday, August 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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

Excellent, comfortable, reliable, great gas mileag

By on Thursday, August 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

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: "4wd, gas mileage, comfort, reliability"

Cons: "None"

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

"This is my first Highlander. I have owned several Camrys and found them all to be excellent and reliable vehicles. The Highlander is as comfortable and reliable as all of the Toyotas I have owned. The third row seat comes in very handy. The 4 wheel drive is very useful in the mountainous terrain and bad winter driving conditions of Western PA. The gas mileage is better than advertised. My Highlander averages 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. With its great gas mileage, spaciousness, and comfort it is a great vehicle to take on vacation."

6 people out of 6 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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