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    2019 Toyota Highlander review: Still competitive, but showing its age

    The Toyota Highlander in showrooms at the moment has basically been round since 2014. Sure, it obtained a midcycle replace a pair years in the past, nevertheless it’s nonetheless largely the identical ol’ Highlander. Against brisker opponents just like the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas, Toyota’s three-row stalwart has a tough time standing out. But that does not imply you must overlook the Highlander. Toyota’s midsize SUV has had spectacular endurance in its present technology. In reality, the Highlander had its best-ever gross sales yr in 2018, with greater than 244,000 of them discovering properties. It may not be the freshest three-row providing, however I can actually see why it has attraction.Same because it ever wasThe Highlander troopers on into 2019 with no styling tweaks, save the brand new LED foglights on my Limited-spec take a look at automobile. Still, Toyota’s midsizer wears pretty bland sheetmetal and styling. It does not look dangerous, nevertheless it actually does not have a lot curb attraction.

    Like the skin, the inside carries over unchanged and is freed from visible sizzle. Instead, you get an easy and purposeful format that is simple to work by, with massive local weather controls, a number of nooks and crannies to stash issues and roomy lodging for people within the first and second rows of seats. There’s additionally fairly a little bit of cargo house at your disposal, with 42 cubic toes of actual property behind the center captain’s seats that grows to almost 83 with them flipped down.

    In addition to a staid design, the inside supplies are sort of meh. Likely the largest strike towards the Highlander inside is the laughable third-row lodging. Small children will have the ability to wedge themselves again there, however youngsters or shorter adults are out of the query due to the dearth of legroom.Aging tech that lacks featuresTo quarterback infotainment features, the Highlander has Toyota’s acquainted Entune interface within the middle stack. Operation-wise, it is a stable system, with a responsive, 8-inch touchscreen that shortly swaps between all of the totally different menus. It’s intuitive to work by due to massive, clearly labeled icons. Entering locations into the Limited’s commonplace navigation system is straightforward with route calculations getting accomplished in a flash. Entune additionally contains a good, however not nice 12-speaker JBL audio setup, Bluetooth, satellite tv for pc radio and real-time climate info.Sadly lacking from Entune’s characteristic menu are issues like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wi-Fi hotspot — issues that every one are just about commonplace among the many Highlander’s aggressive set. That, together with the not very recent and vibrant display imagery, causes the infotainment system to essentially present its age.Entune is responsive, however missing in options.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    One factor that’s as much as snuff is the Highlander’s energy port sport, consisting of two 2.1-amp USB ports, a normal USB and two 12-volt retailers which might be simply accessible up entrance. Rear passengers get one other pair of two.1-amp USBs and a two-prong 120-volt plug on the again of the middle console. No telephone or pill ought to ever go lifeless onboard this Toyota.For security, each Highlander will get the Toyota Safety Sense suite of options that provides adaptive cruise management, ahead collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep help and automated excessive beams. The Limited’s security tech record additionally will get bulked-up with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, that are each useful options to have.Comfort in spadesWhile you will get four-cylinder and hybrid-powered Highlanders, my tester is provided with a easy 3.5-liter V6, making a stout 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. That works with an also-slick eight-speed automated gearbox that sends energy to all 4 wheels. The drivetrain combo is refined, with linear energy supply and well-timed up- and downshifts. The solely small annoyance is muted throttle response at tip-in, however after that it simply goes to make simple work of expressway merging and passing.

    The 3.5-liter V6 is each easy and highly effective.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    With all-wheel drive, the EPA estimates the V6-powered Highlander will return 20 miles per gallon within the metropolis, 26 mpg on the freeway and 22 mpg mixed. After per week of blended winter driving, I noticed 20.2 mpg. Considering the lengthy idle instances throughout cold-morning start-ups, to not point out my heavier proper foot, that is not too dangerous. But the Highlander does fall behind a lot of its extra trendy competitors on the gasoline economic system entrance.

    When it involves dealing with habits, consolation is the Highlander’s primary sport. On crummy Michigan roads, the gentle suspension tuning is welcome. The suspension softens blows from frost heaves and potholes to make working round city greater than tolerable. Lightly weighted steering with somewhat play on middle can also be becoming of the automobile’s calmer demeanor. No, this Toyota is not notably enjoyable to drive, with a physique that strikes round below braking and thru turns, nevertheless it’s not overly clumsy. It is, nevertheless, nonetheless a lot competent, and its 19-inch Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 tires are positive on these damaged, snowy roads. If you need one thing livelier to wheel round on this section, go for the Honda Pilot or Mazda CX-9. For those that put journey high quality above all else, the Highlander is your finest guess. A extra forgiving suspension makes the Highlander an excellent journey on damaged roads.
    Jon Wong/Roadshow
    Still a stable selectionThe Highlander Limited take a look at automobile pictured right here prices $45,185, together with $1,095 for vacation spot. That’s not completely unreasonable, however grabbing an XLE mannequin is a barely extra price range aware possibility that is available in below $42,000. With that you’re going to nonetheless get issues like heated seats, blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross site visitors alert, however must dwell with out the Limited’s cooled entrance seats, the JBL sound system and blue ambient inside lighting. Hey, $3,000 is $3,000.After per week with the 2019 Toyota Highlander Limited, I completely perceive why this outdated canine nonetheless sells in addition to it does. The inoffensive styling, punchy V6 drivetrain and supremely comfy journey high quality are all issues that certainly examine all the foremost bins for a lot of customers. Spruce up the inside and provides this factor a contemporary tech refresh, and the Highlander may simply be a segment-best choose.

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