2019 Toyota Highlander
The 2019 Toyota Highlander is a three-row crossover with space for up to eight occupants, or seven if captain’s chairs replace the second-row bench seat. This family-oriented vehicle provides a spacious cabin, durability, modern amenities, and fuel efficiency along with Toyota’s legendary reliability and high resale value.
The ‘19 Highlander is available in six trim levels: LE, LE Plus, SE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum; there is also a Highlander Hybrid offered, but we’ll just discuss the gas-only version here. There is ample cargo space, especially when both rear rows are folded down. The base four-cylinder engine combined with its six-speed automatic transmission achieves an EPA-rated 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway; this changes to 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway with the optional all-wheel drive added. The more robust V6 with its efficient eight-speed transmission achieves up to 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with FWD, dropping ever so slightly to 20 city/27 highway with AWD.
The novel Nissan Energy program is included to enable storage of renewable energy, such as harvested solar power, in the Leaf Plus’s battery and to transfer energy between the vehicle and larger electric systems: vehicle-to-home, vehicle-to-building, and vehicle-to-grid. This innovative setup even allows Leaf owners to use their car’s stored energy to power home systems during an electricity outage.
Safety and Technology
Some impressive active safety features come standard on the ’19 Highlander within the technology bundle called Toyota Safety Sense. It includes automatic braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high-beams. That’s in addition to the six safety features that come standard as part of the Star Safety System: traction control, an anti-lock brake system, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, Smart Stop technology, and vehicle stability control. On higher trims, a blind-spot monitor and parking sensors are available.
On the connectivity side of the Highlander’s technology features, the Entune infotainment system is the nerve center for your music, communication, and information; it features an 8-inch touchscreen on all but the base LE, which receives a 6.1-inch touchscreen. There is a generous amount of tech present in the Highlander to meet the needs of eight passengers: plenty of USB ports, an auxiliary-input jack, and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. The LE Plus increases the tech equipment by adding SiriusXM satellite radio and Scout GPS Link, which enables navigation apps on smartphone devices and displays directions to the Entune screen. Buyers of the Limited trim can also opt for a rear-seat Blue-ray entertainment system.
Performance and Comfort
The base LE comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with front wheel drive. All other trims, including the base equipped with AWD, get a 3.5-liter V6 engine that boasts 295 horsepower is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Highlanders equipped with the four-cylinder engine can tow up to 1,500 pounds while the V6 models can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds.
The second row comes standard as a three-seat bench, which allows the Highlander to fit eight passengers, or with the available pair of captain’s chairs instead, which drops capacity to seven. There is 14 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which increases to 42 cubic feet with the third row folded down. With both sets of 60/40-split rear seats folded down, the Highlander’s cargo capacity grows to 83 cubic feet. All trims but the base LE come with a flip-up rear hatch window, allowing for easy loading without fully opening the tailgate door. Features added on the XLE and above include a sunroof, roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, and Driver Easy speak, which allows the driver’s voice to be projected through rear speakers to facilitate conversation with all of the passengers.