2009 Toyota Highlander SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Toyota Highlander SUV

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Toyota Highlander Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.7 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 187 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Toyota Highlander

  • With plenty of room, power and features, the 2009 Toyota Highlander is optimized for family use. If you're shopping for a midsize crossover SUV, make sure you try this Toyota.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful yet fuel-efficient V6, easy to maneuver for its size, user-friendly cabin design with reconfigurable second-row seats and a fully usable third row.

  • Cons

    Third-row seat folds as a single unit rather than in 50/50 sections.

  • What's New for 2009

    Toyota offers a four-cylinder version of the Highlander for 2009, but only on the base two-wheel-drive version of this popular crossover.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (10 total reviews)


The best bang for your

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

This car is great, bought used with less than 60K, but in near mint condition at purchase, engine is strong, easy to move seats down for storage and has a lot of nice creature comfort features. Its got decent power for a 4 cylinder and since I'm not towing, and this is primarily a people mover, the gas savings are perfect. Drives like a car, would recommend to anyone looking for a mid size suv that is reliable, fun to drive and very functional.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great suv!

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

We love our Highlander I4 with convenience package. This car has all the features I need and nothing you don't need-perfect. We love the space and comfort, ride quality and general feel of this car. The assembly quality is first rate. It had defective water pump after one year but it is one of the first ones that they put together. In any case, it didn't stop in the middle of the road. The 4 cyl engine is great. It is quiet, and powerful enough to pull full load on our 1000 mile trip. It lacks a passing power a bit but it is a great cruiser and plenty of pep around town. Efficiency was as low as 19 mpg and as high as 29 mpg. Road feel is good but 6 spd transmission is too shift-happy but smooth.




4 cylinder worth consideration

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

I have had a pleasant experience owning 4 cylinder base Highlander 2009 model. The city mileage is 24 and highway 28 - could not have asked for better from mid-size SUV. I cruised at 70 while traveling from Boston to NY and never felt the vehicle does not have enough power. Dealers should inform the customers hybrid is not the only way to get decent fuel economy. Also, driving in snow was not bad either.




Wonderful car

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

I'm very happy about my decision. I was looking for a SUV to replace my VW Passat which is economical and could satisfy my SUV Dreams. I'm happy that I purchased this base model highlander. For my regular commute it give 24 in average and for longer trips it give 26.5mpg. Handling is very good and very very comfortable. Dealer converted the seats to leather for $1099 with heated seats (front and second row). I will recommend this car to anyone without any regret.




Highlander 4cyl with 3rd seat

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

I purchased the car this weekend. Hard to find a 4cyl with the third seat. Drove ~300 miles to pick it up, so I got a little highway time and have driven it around town some. I drove both the 6cyl and 4cyl models and really like the balance of the 4 with the 6 speed transmission. Sure, it won't win any drag races, but the performance is very good. If you want a sports car, buy one. I got ~26mpg on a brand new motor driving 75 mph. Mileage will only improve once it's broken in. So far - love the Highlander. Rated reliability high from my experience with my other Toyota products.




Great product

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Vehicle: 2009 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

I love this car. It is like a fine swiss watch. I am averaging 26 MPG with the 4 cylinder. My car has the trailer towing package. This made it a much stronger vehicle. I had to order the vehicle to get the towing package, but it was worth the wait.



Full 2009 Toyota Highlander Review

What's New for 2009

Toyota offers a four-cylinder version of the Highlander for 2009, but only on the base two-wheel-drive version of this popular crossover.

Introduction

Boasting midsize SUV versatility without the attendant poor fuel mileage and trucklike handling and ride, the 2009 Toyota Highlander exemplifies the virtues of a now-flourishing vehicle breed -- the crossover SUV. When the first-generation Highlander debuted nearly a decade ago, it was a trailblazer in this segment, demonstrating that a vehicle could look and function like an SUV without driving like one. Today, the second-generation Highlander is in its sophomore year of production, and it's just one of many highly competent crossovers on the market. It remains one of the best, though, thanks to its flexible and ergonomically sound interior, secure handling and forceful yet frugal V6.

For 2009, the Toyota Highlander stands pat with the exception of a new four-cylinder version being offered in base two-wheel-drive trim. As such, most new Highlanders will still be fitted with Toyota's superb 3.5-liter V6 that is doubly blessed with impressive output (270 horsepower) and higher-than-average fuel economy. Inside, the Highlander continues to offer useful features such as Center Stow, which allows easy stowage of the center section of the 40/20/40 second-row bench seat, thus providing walk-through access to the third row.

As good as it is, the Highlander now competes in a segment that is awash with many strong candidates. General Motors' Lambda-platform quadruplets (Buick Enclave/Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook), Hyundai's Veracruz and Mazda's CX-9 are all excellent choices. The Highlander isn't quite as cavernous inside as the GM crossovers, so it might not be the best choice for bigger families. However, if you don't have five kids who could stand in for the New England Patriots' defensive line, and you find the Toyota's all-around versatility appealing, the refined and relatively economical 2009 Toyota Highlander is hard to top.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Toyota Highlander is a midsize crossover SUV with seven-passenger capacity. Toyota sells it in three trim levels -- base, Sport and Limited -- all of which are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD).

The base version comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, a fold-flat third-row seat (which can be deleted for a credit), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, a CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack and full power accessories. Stepping up to the Sport provides 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, automatic headlights, foglights, a flip-up rear hatch window, a 3.5-inch information display screen, a back-up camera, an in-dash CD changer (with MP3/WMA capability), upgraded seat fabric, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and one-touch folding capability for the second-row seats.

Like the Sport, the Highlander Limited wears 19-inch wheels but goes with softer suspension tuning and adds more luxury in the form of power-folding and heated outside mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition and wood-grain interior trim.

Options include a rear air-conditioner for base and Sport models, automatic rear climate control for Limited models, a power sunroof, a power liftgate, heated front seats, a rear DVD entertainment system and towing preparation. The premium-grade JBL sound system supplies Bluetooth connectivity and increases the speaker count from six to nine, but its in-dash changer maxes out at four CDs instead of the usual six. The available navigation system can only be ordered in conjunction with the JBL audio upgrade.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2009 Toyota Highlander except the base front-wheel-drive version comes with a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 270 hp and 248 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on all but the base four-cylinder model. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard, and regular 87-octane fuel is all that's required. The new 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is not exactly a slouch, cranking out 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, and it's matched to a six-speed automatic to optimize performance and fuel economy. At our test track, a Highlander Limited V6 AWD sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, making it one of the quickest vehicles in its segment. Properly equipped, the V6-powered Highlander can tow 5,000 pounds, a respectable figure for this segment.

With the V6, the front-drive Highlander's fuel mileage stands at 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined; an AWD V6 version rates 1 mpg less across the board. As of this writing, estimates for the four-cylinder Highlander were not yet available.

Safety

All expected safety equipment is standard on the Toyota Highlander, including antilock disc brakes, stability control and hill-start assist (which keeps the vehicle from rolling backward when starting on uphill grades). All-wheel-drive models come with a downhill assist feature to enable slow, controlled descents down snow-covered driveways. Airbag coverage includes front-seat side airbags, three-row side curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag.

In government crash tests, the 2009 Toyota Highlander scored five stars (the highest possible) for the driver and four for the passenger in frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. In frontal offset crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Highlander earned the top rating of "Good."

Interior Design and Special Features

Larger adults will find the Highlander's interior more accommodating than in the previous generation, as first- and second-row room have grown noticeably in all directions. At the same time, the control layout remains simple and easy to understand, and the quality of the interior materials is high.

The Highlander's third-row legroom falls short of what's available from competing large crossover SUVs, but getting into the third row is much easier, thanks to the second-row seats' improved fold-and-slide mechanisms. There's also a specialized center section of the 40/20/40 second-row bench seat that provides walk-through access to the third row. The middle "20" section simply slides into its own cubby under the front seat center console.

Cargo space is scant when all three rows are in use, measuring just over 10 cubic feet. Folding the third row yields 42 cubes, though, and with the second row down, there's a healthy 95.4 cubic feet -- still short of the Mazda and GM crossovers, but otherwise a good figure for this class. Our only complaint is that the third-row seat folds as a single piece rather than offering a 50/50 split, thus limiting your options when you have a mix of passengers and cargo to carry.

Driving Impressions

Although the current Highlander is considerably larger and heavier than the previous generation, it's still more pleasant to drive than most other midsize SUVs, even those of the crossover variety. Visibility is excellent all around, and the steering is light enough to make the 2009 Toyota Highlander easy to maneuver in tight spaces yet adequately precise while cornering. The V6 is a highlight, delivering strong, smooth acceleration in any situation. The ride quality leans toward the soft side, even with the Sport trim level, but that's to be expected in a family-oriented crossover.

Talk About The 2009 Highlander

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 20
  • cty
/
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs