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2013 Toyota Highlander

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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 370 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

Probably will not buy another Toyota

By on Saturday, August 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 58,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Cons: "Steering much too sensitive at highway speeds"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

"My car has ridiculously sensitive steering at highway/freeway speeds. You must continually correct. An eight inch correction is too much. After a long trip it is exhausting. Four wheel alignment was done. Deal says NORMAL. Service advisor told me they get quite a few complaints, but the response is "Electronic Power Steering" Having been in the automotive repair business for 40 years you would think with a bulletin and scanner, a good tech could repair complaint. Just say no. a"

4 star Toyota SE Highlander.

By on Saturday, August 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Dependable. Reliable."

Cons: "Noisy engine. Weak rear A/C."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Spacious interior. Loads of cargo space with rear seats down. Better than average MPG. VG utility vehicle. My 3rd Toyota Highlander."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

I love this car

By on Monday, July 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"This car is so comfortable to drive. I've never enjoyed a car so much. Because of its size/shape, sometimes i have trouble parking straight, but that's just me. no one else has this problem. The back-up camera is a nice touch for me. My previous car didn't have one. However, when it rains or in the dark, the camera is very limited. The camera on the 2014 Kia Sorrento I drove for a month is far superior. And i'm noticing some rattling on the car now that I've been driving it for a couple years. One would think that for what this car sol;d for, the rattles should be farther down the line."

10 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Best SUV I have ever owned

By on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Very nicely appointed."

Cons: "MPG is around 20 city and 24 highway."

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

"The 2010 Toyota Highlander is the best SUV I have owned, and I have owned quite a few. The styling is attractive, the V6 engine is powerful and very dependable. Transmission (automatic) shifts smoothly and silently without a tremor or jerk. The interior is very comfortable. The leather seats are luxurious. Knobs and dials are in the right places for easy access. Mine has a sliding electric sun roof, which is nice. The cargo area is voluminous. All in all a great vehicle. I will buy another one in about 200,000 miles."

8 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Great car; is our 3rd Highlander; 06-85K; 08-144K

By on Tuesday, July 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000

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

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

"No problems; great for mountains in Western CO and in NC; quiet, roomy, fun to drive, good nav system."

9 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Great Smaller SUV with TONS of Room!

By on Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I don't own this car

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: "keeps it's value, comfortable, classic style"

Cons: "no split far back seat, no bluetooth"

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

"This is such an excellent vehicle for in city and in the country. Gets really good gas mileage and I've taken very good care of it. What I love the most is the extra 3rd row of seats that adults can comfortably sit in for a short road trip, but also collapses for more room in the back for storage or to fit a sleeping in. The leather seats make it easy to keep clean. I also appreciate the extra features on the stereo system, the steering wheel and the keyless door entry and push start! The captains chairs in the middle row are pretty sweet for comfort, too."

12 people out of 23 found this review helpful

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