We are a family of 4 . . . 5 if you count the dog, but it seems like we never have enough room in the car. Whether we are picking up another kid for the soccer team or just going on a short trip as a family, the thought of needing a 3rd row keeps coming up. That’s why we were excited to test drive for a week the Toyota Highlander.
We were pretty impressed by how large the Highlander was, but the first thing that caught my attention was the appearance. I think the older version used to look more like a mini-van, but the new Highlander has a nice big and wide appearance that looks more like a sleek SUV.
This is a perfect family car, Toyota is known for their reliability and safety, and both of these features are prominent in the Highlander. After driving it for a while, I really think this might be the best 3 row SUV available in its category.
Here are some of my top observations as to why this is the perfect 3 row SUV for your family.
Safety – the Highlander grades out incredibly well in the safety category. It is an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus and also received 5 stars from NHTSA for an Overall Safety Rating. Their Star Safety System and available Pre-Collision System will help make sure every ride is a safe ride. Also a whopping 8 airbags will be there if needed too.
Interior – I really like how the inside of the Highlander is put together. It is roomy and flows nicely. It is not over the top, but the room in the 3rd row is exceptional. Even with the 3rd row there is plenty of storage room and if you lay the 3rd row seats down you can move just about anything. Also, there are 3 different climate zones for driver, passenger and the 2nd/3rd rows, to help add to the comfort. I really like the 2nd row and the cockpit style seating, there are some cool features like a folding tray that simply disappears!
Tech – The Highlander is all tech’d up. I love the Entune system, it takes care of everything you need, from music, to navigation to ordering movie tickets! A backup camera with projected path is standard in every model. Available options like Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Available Lane Departure Alert allow you to have the tech make the Highlander even safer for the fam.
Performance – The Highlander has improved its MPG thanks to smarter engines. This helps make the Highlander great to drive on both the highway as well as the city streets. If you want to get out of the city, the Highlander has a 5000-lb. towing capacity to help you enjoy even more family adventures.
Hybrid available – Families tend to pay a little more attention to all the monthly expenses. The Highlander has a hybrid version as well. The Hybrid comes in at a higher price tag, but lets you squeeze out some extra MPGs. The non-hybrid gets around 20/25 MPG where the Hybrid Highlander gets 27/28. That is a significant difference if you do a lot of city driving.
Appearance – I know this isn’t as important as the other items to a family, but let’s be honest, moms and dads like to (try to) look cool from time to time. The new design has a very aggressive look on the front end, combined with all the other features, the Highlander looks the part too!
Overall, the Highlander offers a great combination of safety, spacing, comfort, style and fun driving. All of these characteristics make it a perfect choice for the family on the move. Toyota has improved the Highlander and with these improvements the Highlander ranks very high in the 3 row SUV category.
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