Debuting in January 2011, the Highlander, like other makes from the Japanese automaker Toyota, captured America’s senses and held it for long. A midsize crossover with a car-like body, the said model became a hit to consumers who loved taking their entire family along with some bulky cargo on long drives to vacation destinations. There are several admirable qualities that the Highlander has, and these can only be shown further by the continuing production of the units in the Kyushu plant as of 2012.
2001 – 2007: The safe, comfy inside of a seven-seater crossover
Running on a four-wheel drive, the seven-seater Highlander was very promising because of hitting several areas where consumers wanted to put their money on. Starting with the independent rear suspension and the unibody construction, the unit could travel soundlessly on-road while providing superior comfort to passengers. Customers could also opt for an all-wheel drive that equally split control between and front and rear of the vehicle. Three trims were available: the base, the Sport, and the Limited. The standard features that came in 2002 were rear-seat armrests, a redesigned center console, and cabin air filtration, while the following year, the spare tire became fuller. The other features offered in this generation were the head-protecting curtain side airbags and front torso side airbags, while the optional features included a third-row seat, curtain airbags for the second-row passengers, and rollover deployment for the airbags.
2008 – present: Power, control, capacity, and safety upgrades
A considerable upgrade in power happened in this generation. The base Highlanders squeezed out 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque from a 2.7-liter engine. The other versions had a 3.-5-liter V6 that produced 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque; these numbers were better than that of the first-generation models by about 50 points. A six-speed automatic transmission was available, and towing capacity was 3,500 pounds for the Hybrid units and 5,000 pounds for the gasoline-powered units. In this generation, a power tailgate, a sunroof, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a better audio system were seen as improvements. Some unique features were also introduced, including the Electric Power Steering, which used a motor to make steering control easier for the driver, and the Smart Key System, which was a great security feature. In 2010, the rear styling was revised, sporting black with chrome accents, while the front fascia had new headlights and front grille. Also, front and rear air conditioning was provided along with a cruise control and power locks and windows. Hill Start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control, and Vehicle Stability Control became standard features.