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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
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 361 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

Good car compared to other SUVs - Holds it's value

By on Saturday, April 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000

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
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Air brake, smooth ride, large cargo area"

Cons: "Mold spores blown out of AC vents - cause illness"

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

"I bought this car in February or March of 2013. Traded in my 2008 Highlander. The dealer didn't have what I wanted, so they shopped until they found an (almost) exact match for me and had it brought in. It had a sunroof, which I didn't want, but everything else was perfect. It is silver with gray leather interior. I have lower back problems so getting in and out of a vehicle can be a problem for me. This Highlander fits me perfectly. I am 5'6" so am able to sit into the seat comfortably, and the under-the-knees support which can be adjusted to anyone's comfort level is so nice. There are some cars that I feel like I'm sliding out of the seat because there is no support under my knees. It rides very smoothly. We travel to NM a few times a year and we LOVE the air brake on this car. All we have to do is take the foot off the accelerator and the car will slow itself depending on the rate of descent and the curve of the road. It is great because it saves wear and tear on brakes. We took our 3 granddaughters on a 2000 mile road trip a few years ago, two teenagers and one pre-teen, plus our mini-weiner dog, and there was room for everyone and everything. We had added a rack on top, so some of the cargo went up there. It was a great trip, and we heard very few complaints. Our Highlander did great traveling from S. Texas into Canada. The only complaint I have with Highlanders is that the air conditioner smells moldy from time to time. I found an article a few years ago about a lady who had taken her Highlander in many times due to the mold and her children being sick all the time. Every time, the dealership told her the AC vents needed cleaning. When she finally had the manager of the dealership drive it over the week end, she got his attention. He had the car taken apart. What he found was (as I understand it) water from the AC drain had dripped onto the insulation between the firewall and the engine. It was moldy. Somehow the air coming into the cabin was drawing that mold into the vents. For some reason, this problem isn't reported on all of Toyota's products, but the reports do run the gamut of all of their lines, including the Lexus. My 2008 did not have the mold problem. Regrettably, as much as I love this Highlander, I will never buy another Toyota because of the dangerous level of mold spores in the Toyota vehicles. I have warned everyone I know about this. My friends and my granddaughter wanted to buy Toyotas. I talked them out of it. How unfortunate. I am surprised that there has been no class action lawsuit brought. Toyota is still producing automobiles with this problem, and until they re-engineer their cars, or until a huge settlement is made, there will be no change."

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 5 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

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