2006 Toyota Highlander SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Toyota Highlander SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Toyota Highlander Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.3 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 215 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/23 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Toyota Highlander

  • With its fuel-efficient engine lineup, full complement of safety features and easygoing demeanor, the 2006 Toyota Highlander is one of our top recommendations to those who need SUV utility but don't want any unnecessary bulk or fuel bills.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Rides and handles like a Camry, smooth V6 engine, fuel-efficient four-cylinder, lots of standard safety features, high crash-test scores.

  • Cons

    Poor access to optional third-row seat, bland personality.

  • What's New for 2006

    A Sport trim level debuts and revised SAE testing procedures have resulted in reductions in the stated horsepower and torque ratings, though actual output is unchanged.

Full 2006 Toyota Highlander Review

What's New for 2006

A Sport trim level debuts and revised SAE testing procedures have resulted in reductions in the stated horsepower and torque ratings, though actual output is unchanged.


The Toyota Highlander SUV debuted in 2001. It was one of the first midsize "crossover" SUVs to appear, and Toyota designed it to complement the more rugged and trucklike 4Runner. The Highlander has a carlike unibody design which leads to better handling, less cabin noise, improved crashworthiness and easier entry and exit for passengers.

The Toyota Highlander is meant for people who like the image and versatility of an SUV but prioritize the ride, handling and comfort of a sedan. Think of the Highlander as an oversize Camry wagon that went clothes shopping at REI, and you've got the general idea. Even in its sixth year on the market, the Highlander remains one of the better values for families who need a comfortable, easy-to-drive vehicle that can carry a fair amount of cargo, handle occasional snow and ice during the winter months and still turn in respectable fuel economy. Although you should definitely explore all your options in this segment, the 2006 Toyota Highlander offers a well-rounded package for the average crossover SUV buyer.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The four-door Toyota Highlander SUV comes in three trims: base, Sport and Limited. The base models are decently equipped with items like 16-inch wheels; power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; air conditioning; keyless entry; and a CD player. The Sport spices things up with 17-inch polished alloys, sport suspension, foglights, color-keyed grille, chrome exterior trim, power driver seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift and a CD player. The Limited features automatic headlights, 17-inch non-polished alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, power-adjustable front seats, a fold-flat third-row seat, an upgraded JBL sound system and HomeLink. Popular options for the Highlander include a rear-seat DVD-based entertainment system, an in-dash CD changer, a tow package and, on the Limited trim, leather seating and a navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance

There are two engine choices for this Toyota SUV: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (that comes with the base Highlander) or a 3.3-liter V6 (optional on the base model and standard on the Sport and Limited trims). The four-cylinder makes 155 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, while the smooth V6 puts out 215 ponies and 222 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard on four-cylinder models, while V6 Highlanders upgrade to a five-speed unit. Tow ratings are on the light side, the maximum being 3,500 pounds on a properly equipped V6 model. The Highlander comes in both front-wheel-drive (2WD) and all-wheel-drive configurations.


All Highlanders come with four-wheel antilock disc brakes equipped with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and BrakeAssist, a stability control system, a tire-pressure warning system and whiplash-reducing front seats. Optional on all models are seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows. In government crash testing, the 2006 Toyota Highlander scored five stars (out of a possible five) for frontal-impact protection. In side-impact tests, it again received five stars for both front and rear passengers. In frontal offset crash testing administered by the IIHS, the Toyota earned a "Good" rating (the best possible).

Interior Design and Special Features

The Highlander's passenger accommodations are reasonably spacious, but newer competitors offer more room in the second row. Ordering the third-row bench allows the Toyota SUV to seat two additional passengers, preferably small ones, for a total capacity of seven. Unfortunately, the second-row seat's lack of a flip-and-fold mechanism makes the third row tougher to access than most. When it's time to haul groceries, the third-row seat folds flat into the floor (without requiring removal of the headrests), opening up 38.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Drop the 60/40-split second-row seats and there are 81.4 cubes to go around.

Driving Impressions

A fully independent suspension delivers an excellent combination of comfort and control, although, like the Camry, most Highlanders favor ride quality over handling. Drivers looking for a flatter cornering attitude will want to consider the Sport version with its firmer suspension tuning. Regardless of trim level, the Highlander weighs less than many other crossover SUVs, giving a more nimble feel. The base four-cylinder engine provides adequate power for those who travel light, but most buyers will prefer the V6, which provides smooth, strong acceleration in all situations.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Transmission sucks!! you've been warned

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

This car has shuddered while accellerating since we bought it and on our road trip has us stranded now in Virginia because the transmission is messing up. The car surges forward and tries to drop gears while accelerating. The car jerks very hard and comes to a complete stop in the highway! I've seen many reviews saying they have the same problem!! I'm missing college and work and cant afford this fix and according to reviews it is a widespread problem with this particular vehicle.

Still love it 6 years

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV AWD w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Purchased Jan. 2006 at the time my requirement was back seat size, trunk space, side curtain air bags and great than 20 MPG. This brought us to the Toyota Highlander. It has been FANTASTIC for our family. I travel an average of 25,000 miles a year and have NO real complaints. I still when I get in say "i love this car". No major mechanical issues at all! Just routine maintenance. Change the oil every 5-7,000 miles - it is perfect.

3 of 10 people found this review helpful

Defective cylinder head bolt threads

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV w/3rd Row (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

We purchased this as a new vehicle and have been very pleased with it until today. We found out that we have a leak that can only be fixed by a $5000 bandaide that Toyota has defined in Toyota's techincal bulletin T-SB-0015-11. The bolt holes in the cylinder block must be tapped to install an insert to hold new bolts. We now have to find a way to replace this vehicle! So much for Toyota!

2006 highlander nice choice

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Typical good Toyota quality, interior very bland and plain, small armrest, 3rd seat is so small it is unusable Smooth running, great in the snow. with 4WD Overpriced compared to other similar SUV But is a good vehicle with no problems so far.


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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV w/3rd Row (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

I owned a '07 Mitsubishi Endeavor and traded with this vehicle for more seating capacity. I thought Toyota is dependable but I was wrong. Something is draining the battery AND brakes travels longer at first stop. I freaked out when it feels my vehicle will not stop. Dreaded when I come back to my vehicle and wondering if it will start. NHTSA has many reports in regards to my brake issue. Toyota have not recall this vehicle and hope it will soon.

Still love it 3 yrs

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Vehicle: 2006 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

Always wanted a Toyota and I love driving it now as much as I did at first. Always dependable, no problems whatsoever. I like the tight steering, low turning radius... drives like a car. Easy to handle, even when loaded with weight. 4 cyl. is plenty of power for me. Big enough for my 6'2 stocky husband. I get about 20-22 MPG mixed city/hwy driving... wish it was more, but hey, I can't complain. I love this vehicle.

Talk About The 2006 Highlander

2006 Toyota Highlander Discussions See all Started By

I bought the HH new, have taken good care of it, have 72,000 miles without any problems. Toyota says that after 90,000 miles or 6 years I should get my timing belt changed. Is there anybody out ther?...

I have a 2006 v6 AWD Highlander. 4551 miles. I will have it one year in February 2007. Today when I started car (twice) the 'Maint Req' light on the dashboard flashed 6 times then went out. It does no...

My 2006 non-hybrid V6 AWD Highlander seems to have lately emitted a smell that I can only describe as vinegar....

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 23
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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