Full 2007 Toyota Highlander Review
What's New for 2007
Front-seat side airbags and two-row side curtain airbags are standard on the 2007 Toyota Highlander. Toyota's midsize crossover SUV also gets revised headlights this year.
Representing the seventh year of the model cycle, the 2007 Toyota Highlander is the oldest midsize crossover SUV on the market. Like most Toyotas, though, it was well designed from the start and has aged gracefully over the years. Key strengths include a comfortable ride, easy maneuverability in tight spaces, above-average gas mileage and a high-quality interior with ample room in the first and second rows. Toyota added a third-row seat in 2004 to keep up with newer rivals, but it's more of an afterthought than it is functional and buyers who need seven-passenger capacity will be better served by one of the Highlander's competitors. For families of four, though, the Toyota Highlander remains an acceptable choice, especially considering its many standard safety features and strong crash-test ratings.
Based on the 1997-2001 Camry platform, the Highlander immediately won over consumers with its refined driving dynamics. At a time when most SUVs in this price range were still built on truck platforms and were unwieldy to drive, Toyota gave buyers the equivalent of a tall station wagon with optional all-wheel drive and a choice of a frugal four-cylinder or a smooth V6 engine. Make no mistake: The Toyota Highlander has never been a particularly stylish or sporty vehicle. Rather, it's a highly practical and economical vehicle for buyers whose lives are consumed by children, commutes and grocery store runs.
The problem is that the Highlander's useful packaging has been copied many times over, and many peers are now doing it better. Perhaps the stiffest competition comes from Toyota's own RAV4, which is now almost as big as the Highlander and offers just as much headroom and legroom. In addition, the less expensive RAV handles better and can be equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that's more powerful and fuel-efficient than the Highlander's 3.3-liter V6. Other competitors you'll want to consider include the Ford Edge; Honda Pilot; Hyundai Santa Fe; Mazda CX-7 and CX-9; Mitsubishi Outlander and Endeavor; Nissan Murano and the Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook triplets. All of these vehicles have their merits, but the well-rounded Pilot, Santa Fe and CX-9 are our top choices in this group. If you still want to purchase a 2007 Toyota Highlander, we won't stand in your way, but we would encourage you to test-drive a few other crossover SUVs before doing so.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A car-based midsize SUV, the 2007 Toyota Highlander comes in three trim levels: base, Sport and Limited. The base models are decently equipped with items like 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a six-speaker CD stereo, full power accessories and keyless entry. The Highlander Sport spices things up with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension (4WD models only), foglights, a color-keyed grille, chrome exterior trim, a power driver seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (with audio controls). The top-of-the-line Toyota Highlander Limited features automatic headlights, heated outside mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, a fold-flat third-row seat, automatic climate control, an upgraded eight-speaker JBL sound system and wood-grain interior trim.
Popular options for the Highlander include leather upholstery, a sunroof, an in-dash CD changer, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a tow package and, on the Limited only, a navigation system. The third-row seat is optional on base and Sport models.
Powertrains and Performance
There are two engine choices on the 2007 Toyota Highlander. Base models come standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated for 155 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. Optional on base Highlanders and standard on the Sport and Limited is a 3.3-liter V6 good for 215 hp 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 automatic. Buyers can get front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) with either engine. Fuel economy ratings range from 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway on 2WD four-cylinder models to 18/24 on AWD V6 Highlanders. Tow ratings are on the light side, the maximum being 3,500 pounds on a properly equipped V6 model.
All 2007 Toyota Highlanders come with antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for the first and second rows. A tire-pressure warning system and whiplash-reducing front head restraints are also included. In NHTSA crash testing, the 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 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 for poor access to the third row and limits the seven-passenger Highlander's appeal for carpooling. When it's time to haul groceries, the third-row seat folds flat into the floor (without requiring removal of the headrests), opening up 39.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Drop the 60/40-split second-row seats and there are 80.6 cubes to go around.
A fully independent suspension delivers a solid combination of comfort and control, although even in Sport trim, the Highlander favors ride quality over handling. One advantage the Highlander has over many of the newer midsize crossover SUVs is a lower curb weight, which gives it a more nimble feel than some of them. The base four-cylinder engine provides adequate power for those who travel light, but most 2007 Toyota Highlander buyers will prefer the V6, which provides smooth, capable acceleration in all situations.