16 Best Family Cars: 2016 Toyota Highlander
Making its third consecutive appearance in our Best Family Car honor roll, the Toyota Highlander earns its spot with a solid combination of comfort, quality, space and convenience features that continue to make it a truly formidable player in its segment while offering buyers a choice of trims from the entry-level LE model to a range-topping Limited with ultra-lux Platinum Package.
A rolling home away from home, the Highlander makes it easy to settle in and enjoy a journey of any length. Its command seating position gives the driver a great view of what's ahead, main control layouts are logically arrayed and there's plenty of space for people as well as their gear including a large covered center bin and an innovative under-dash tray. Even the LE bolsters its Entune Multimedia system and 6.1-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth wireless phone and music streaming, a USB port and a trio of 12V powerpoints. Moving up the line to XLE/Limited trims brings additional primo touches like leather upholstery, bigger screens and more inputs plus the option of adding a rear-seat Blu-ray DVD entertainment system with a 9.0-inch screen.
The Highlander features room for eight -- seven with optional captain's chairs -- and its second-row seats fold and slide to provide easy access to the innermost perches that will accommodate adults but are better suited to younger folk. While the Highlanderâ's 13.8 cu ft rear bay capacity falls somewhat short of its key rival, the Honda Pilot, the two are virtual equal-opportunity haulers when both rear rows are dropped.
The Power to Please
With an economical 185-horsepower 4-cylinder engine -- front drive only -- a potent 270-horse V6 in FWD/AWD or an all-wheel-drive Hybrid variant with 280 gas/electric ponies, the Toyota Highlander offers an unsurpassed level of choice in the motivation department. For 2016, all V6-powered models, including the Hybrid, also come with a standard 5,000-pound tow package. Last but far from least, the Highlander features Toyota's full Star Safety System and is surprisingly easy to live with on a daily basis matching good control and maneuverability with a genuinely appealing personality.
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