The 2011 Toyota Highlander possesses a well-balanced combination of carlike comfort and SUV versatility. It's long been among the top picks in the midsize crossover SUV segment thanks to its healthy V6 engine, easy maneuverability, family-friendly 7-passenger accommodations, above average fuel economy and strong reliability reputation ... and the 2011 model is likely to maintain this broad appeal.
And new for the 2010 model year is a refresh responsible for an updated design as well as additional standard equipment. Also introduced this year is a new third-row seat with an easier to configure 50/50-split folding setup, making for more versatile passenger/cargo accommodations. The new Highlander also sports an innovation second-row seat that features a removable center piece, providing for easier access to the third row and comfortable second-row captain's chairs.
While the 2011 Highlander has much to offer, it's still usually a good idea to check out the competition to help make the most informed final buying decision. Worthy rivals that may be worth a comparison include the Chevrolet Traverse which has a larger interior and can seat up to eight passengers, as well as the Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9, each with their own appealing attributes.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Toyota Highlander is available in three trims: base, SE and Limited.
Standard features on the base model include power windows, power doorlocks, power mirrors, 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, halogen headlamps, air-conditioning with rear controls, a 6-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack, a sliding and reclining 40/20/40-split-folding second-row seat, a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat, an aerodynamic rear spoiler, rear privacy glass and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Moving up to the Highlander SE adds leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver seat, a sunroof, a backup camera, a power tailgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, foglamps, roof rails, a windshield wiper de-icer and an upgraded stereo (optional on the base model) with Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio, satellite radio and a USB port.
The top-of-the-line Limited then adds upgraded leather, a 10-way power driver seat, a 4-way power passenger seat, keyless entry/ignition, tri-zone automatic climate control, wood-grain trim accents, 19-inch cast-aluminum wheels, power-folding and heated external mirrors with puddle lamps and additional chrome exterior trim accents.
Available optional features depend on the model and geographic location, but include navigation, a rear DVD entertainment system, a towing prep package and a JBL audio system with a 6-disc CD changer and subwoofer (the navigation system comes with the JBL sound system and a 4-disc CD changer).
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Under the hood of the 2011 Toyota Highlander is a choice of two engines. The Base and SE models come standard with a 2.7-liter inline-4 engine that produces 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic transmission are also standard. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for this setup is a quite respectable 20 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Also available as an option on the base and SE and standard on the Limited is a 3.5-liter V6 that's good for a robust 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. It's paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control and front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. In performance tests, a Highlander Limited with AWD was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a very quick 7.5 seconds, making it one of the fastest crossovers available. And when properly equipped, a Highlander V6 has a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, a very impressive number for this segment.
Gas mileage for the front-drive Highlander V6 comes in at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, while the all-wheel drive is rated at 17 and 22, respectively.
The 2011 Highlander is also well-equipped when it comes to safety, in fact, it's one of the best equipped in the small and midsize SUV segments. Standard safety features include stability control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), hill-start assist, hill-descent control in AWD models, front seat side-impact airbags, active front head restraints, a driver-side knee airbag and side curtain airbags that cover all three rows.
In government crash testing, the Highlander received the highest possible rating of five stars for side-impact occupant protection as well as five stars for the driver and four for the front passenger in frontal-impact protection.
The 2011 Highlander's cabin is attractive, solidly-constructed with higher-grade materials and user-friendly. It's roominess is ample in the first two rows while the seating is comfortable and supportive, although the third row has less legroom and is best reserved for children. Driver visibility is excellent.
The second-row bench reclines as well as slides back and forth for added comfort, while total cargo capacity stands at an ample 95.4 cubic feet with the second and third-row seatbacks folded down. There's also added versatility thanks to the 40/20/40-split second-row's center piece which can be removed and stored under the center console.
The drive of the 2011 Highlander is smooth and quiet yet still provides capable handling and easy maneuverability, although not to the level of being "sporty". Its strong 3.5-liter V6 is particularly impressive, providing some of the strongest acceleration in its class while still not breaking the bank at the pump. And in keeping with its high safety standards, the Highlander's braking is excellent as well.
The Toyota Highlander has been a top family choice for the last decade and has earned a reputation for comfort, reliability, decent fuel economy and strong resale values. Over the years, the Highlander has grown in size and become more upscale in terms of features and materials, with many consumers now comparing its interior favorably with its Lexus cousins. In fact, the Highlander does indeed share much of its structure with the Lexus RX 350.
For those seeking a midsize crossover with a standard third-row, the 2011 Highlander offers a well-rounded personality that's worthy of serious consideration. It's feature-laden, comfortable and will likely be very dependable for many years. It also is attractively priced compared to most midsize SUVs, particularly those with third rows. On the other hand, the Highlander may not be the best match for those seeking an engaging and sporty driving experience or who need to tow very heavy loads.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Wholesale Bank & Government Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.
2011 Toyota Highlander:
Base, 4-cyl, FWD: list price: $27,540, invoice price: $25,142
Base, V6, FWD: list price: $28,695, invoice price: $26,196
Base, V6, AWD: list price: $30,145, invoice price: $27,520
SE, 4-cyl, FWD: list price: $32,145, invoice price: $29,346
SE, V6, FWD: list price: $33,300, invoice price: $30,403
SE, V6, AWD: list price: $34,750, invoice price: $31,726
Limited, V6 FWD: list price: $35,045, invoice price: $31,994
Limited, V6, AWD: list price: $36,495, invoice price: $33,317