2019 Toyota Highlander Review

2019 Toyota Highlander - Hybrid Highlander excels in comforts, fuel economy


 Multiple choices are offered when it comes to the 2019 Toyota Highlander sport utility vehicle. Trim levels number five, beginning with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder LE and continuing through the V6 models of LE Plus, XLE, SE and Limited.

In addition to these gasoline-only Highlanders, Toyota offers hybrid powerplants in the LE, XLE and Limited trim levels. In effect, that adds up to eight Highlander offerings for 2019.

Prices range from $36,000 to $48,000 depending on trim inclusions, front- or all-wheel-drive and size of engines. In a recently tested 3.5-liter V6 model, the engine worked in concert with  a nickel-metal hydride battery pack to reach 306 horsepower. The asking price was $45,510 for this model.

The tested AWD, four-door, three-row, seven-occupant midsize Highlander is quite a vehicle and, for the price, it should be. First, the fuel economy. With two adults aboard during the week in combined city and highway driving, the usage averaged 28.8 miles per gallon. Most of the driving was in suburban communities. Since the vehicle weighed 4,861 pounds and the combined weight of adults was 350 pounds, that fuel usage was remarkable. SUVS that weigh 1,000 pounds less would do well to match that economy.

Second, the hybrid Highlander is quiet and comfortable. Whether sitting in the front or the middle rows, leg and body room serves occupants as tall as six-feet, four-inches and weighing about 250 pounds. Seats are wide and cushioned well.  Insulation is top notch. Neither exterior noise nor the throbs of a working  engine intrude into the cabin.

Third, since the tested Limited hybrid is almost at the top of the trim lines (Limited Platinum is at the top), amenities include voice activated radio (AM, FM, satellite) and navigation system, power windows for two rows (express down), reclining second and third row seats, power tilt, express open and slide sunroof, flip-up third-row hatch window and memory settings for two including front seats.

More standard and expected fare are  power and heated exterior mirrors and front seats, leather upholstery, power lift-gate and door locks, remote keyless entry, smart start and five USB ports (three front, two rear).

In addition to 83.2 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, there are chrome overhead roof rails for more storage capability. The third row folds into the floor allowing for 42.3 cubic feet of carpeted and lighted storage behind an upright second row. Behind the upright third row the storage space is 13.8 cubic feet.

The exterior look is enhanced with LED lamps, fog lights, color-keyed rear spoiler with LED center high-mount stop light and 19-inch, five-spoke chrome alloy wheels with black center caps. The wheels support P245 tires. The spare is a temporary tire.

Toyota's "safety sense" is standard on all 2019 Highlanders. It includes lane departure warning, steering assist when sensors detect unintentional drifting, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection (effective at low speeds), hill start assist, downhill assist control, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and sonar rear parking assist. These safety features are in addition to the traditional traction and stability controls, antilock braking systems, headrests and seatbelts, air bags front (including driver knee), sides and overhead.

For a family of four or five traveling long distances the Highlander is a great choice. Toyota has the larger Land Cruiser and Sequoia if more interior room and power are necessary. The company's smaller SUVs are 4Runner, RAV 4 and C-HR.

In the midsized three-row category of SUVs, Consumer Reports magazine editors rank the Highlander as the top choice. In the large SUV category, the top choice of editors is the Sequoia.

Vehicle: hybrid  Limited model of 2019 Toyota Highlander

Type: seven- or eight-seat midsize three-row, four-door sport utility vehicle

Power : 3.5-liter, V6 gasoline engine, metal-hydride battery pack combine for 306 horsepower

Transmission: continuously variable with overdrive

Fuel: regular unleaded

Fuel tank: 17.2 gallons

Towing: 3,500 pounds

Payload: 1,305 pounds

Weight: 4,861 pounds

Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance  in inches: 109.8, 192.5, 75.8, 68.1, 8

Legroom in inches: 44.2 front, 38.4 second row, 26.7 third row

Cargo: 13.8 cubic feet behind upright third row, 42.3 cubic feet third row folded, 83.2 cubic feet second and third rows folded

Turn radius: 19 feet, four inches

Tires, wheels: 19-inch

Warranty: 36 months or 36,000 miles, five years or 60,000 miles powertrain, eight years or 100,000 miles hybrid electrical components, roadside assistance two years or unlimited mileage

Information: www.toyota.com

Jerry Kuyper

Born on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Jerrold E. Kuyper quickly became familiar with tractors, pickup trucks and related agricultural equipment. He left that behind to graduate from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and attend graduate schools in Evanston and Chicago. He was hired as a reporter for the Kenosha News, a daily newspaper in Kenosha, WI. After a stint of a dozen years at the Kenosha News, he became a columnist, layout, page and sections editor at the Northwest Herald, a daily newspaper based in Crystal Lake, IL serving northwest Chicago suburban communities.

While with the Northwest Herald he helped create, write reviews and opinion columns as well as edit the newspaper's Wheels section, a 16- to 40-page broadsheet that appeared weekly in the newspaper's Friday edition. Wheels was devoted to reviews of new vehicles, looks at automotive history, current trends in the automobile world and columns by automotive enthusiasts. Midwest Automotive Media Association members who contributed to reviews and columns included Mitch Frumkin, Phil Arendt, Matt Joseph and James Flammang as well as photo journalist Doug Begley and dragster specialist Fred Blumenthal.

Kuyper, who lives in Salem Lakes, WI, is a founding member of MAMA, is married, has three children and six grandchildren.