2010 Toyota Highlander SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2010 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 2010 Toyota Highlander

  • The 2010 Toyota Highlander's gutsy powertrain, versatile interior and carlike maneuverability make it an ideal choice as a do-all family vehicle.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful and fuel-efficient V6, user-friendly cabin with innovative second-row seat design, easy to maneuver considering its size.

  • Cons

    Less total interior capacity than some competitors, one-piece third-row seatback limits passenger/cargo-carrying flexibility.

  • What's New for 2010

    The 2010 Toyota Highlander is unchanged other than a new sunroof option on base four-cylinder models and an available rearview camera that's now offered on base V6-powered versions.

Full 2010 Toyota Highlander Review

What's New for 2010

The 2010 Toyota Highlander is unchanged other than a new sunroof option on base four-cylinder models and an available rearview camera that's now offered on base V6-powered versions.


What do you get when you cross a sport-utility vehicle with a sedan? Something that looks an awful lot like the 2010 Toyota Highlander. One of the first of a new breed of crossovers when it debuted almost a decade ago, the midsize Highlander quickly carved out a niche for itself by combining the shape and practicality of a traditional SUV with the more refined ride and handling qualities of a passenger car.

Representing the model's second generation, the 2010 Highlander remains a standout in an increasingly crowded segment. One of the Highlander's better attributes is what you'll find under its hood. Though a passable 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine was introduced in the base model last year, it's the 3.5-liter V6 that's the real attraction because of the nice balance it offers between zippy performance and relatively good fuel economy.

The conservatively styled Highlander also scores on the inside. There you'll find comfortable seating for up to seven passengers, though accommodations in the standard third row are on the tight side compared to other three-row crossovers. However, the unique 40/20/40-split second-row seat with a center section that can be removed to provide easy walk-through access to the third-row seats is an especially bright idea.

While the 2010 Toyota Highlander has a lot to recommend it, it faces some stiff competition. The midsize crossovers from General Motors -- including the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia -- are appealing alternatives by virtue of their cavernous interiors with seating for up to eight passengers. The capable Ford Flex, the luxurious Hyundai Veracruz and sporty Mazda CX-9 also have their own distinct advantages. That said, we still think the Highlander hits an ideal sweet spot between SUV utility and passenger car comfort.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2010 Toyota Highlander is a midsize seven-passenger crossover offered in base, Sport, SE and Limited trim levels. The entry-level Highlander comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, cloth upholstery, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. A fold-flat third-row seat is standard on V6 models and can be deleted if desired.

Step up to the Sport model and you get 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, automatic headlights, foglights, roof rack side rails and a flip-up rear window in the liftgate. Inside upgrades include a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cargo area-mounted releases for folding down the second-row seats, along with a 3.5-inch screen that displays trip computer info and the image from the standard back-up camera.

The Highlander SE reverts to 17-inch wheels and the regular suspension but has a standard sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, leather seating and a power passenger seat. The cabin also gets an upgraded driver seat, a power front passenger seat, keyless ignition/entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass and a satellite-radio-ready audio system with a six-disc CD changer.

The Highlander's options list varies by trim level and region, but those available include a sunroof, a power liftgate, heated front seats, automatic rear climate control systems and a towing prep package. Entertainment goodies include a rear DVD entertainment system and a premium nine-speaker JBL sound system that includes Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. A navigation system is also available, but it's only offered on models equipped with the JBL audio system.

Powertrains and Performance

The Toyota Highlander is available with a choice of two engines. Base models can be had with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out a respectable 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

By far the more popular (and better) powertrain is the 3.5-liter V6 that's rated at 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is available as an option. This latter combination propelled a Highlander Limited V6 AWD we tested from zero to 60 mph in just 7.8 seconds, a result that makes it one of the quickest crossovers out there. Properly equipped, V6-powered versions can also tow up to 5,000 pounds, another healthy number for this category. With front-wheel drive, the Highlander V6 returns EPA estimates of 18 city/24 highway/20 combined; adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers by 1 mpg.


The Highlander comes with a long list of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes, stability control and hill-start assist that helps keep the vehicle from rolling backward when motoring away from a stop on an incline. All-wheel-drive models also come with Downhill Assist, which helps the driver make a slow, controlled descent on steep, slick surfaces like snow-covered driveways.

The Highlander's cabin is fitted with a total of seven airbags, including side-impact airbags for front seat passengers, side curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seats and a driver-side knee airbag. Whiplash-reducing active front head restraints are also standard.

In government crash tests, the Highlander earned five stars (the highest possible) for the driver and four stars for the front passenger in frontal impacts, and five stars for side impacts. In tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Highlander received "Good" ratings in both frontal-offset and side impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2010 Toyota Highlander features an attractive cabin, especially on top-of-the-line Limited models. Visibility is excellent and the straightforward layout of gauges and controls makes for refreshingly intuitive operation.

Compared to the previous generation, the 2010 Toyota Highlander's passenger compartment offers noticeably better head-, leg- and elbow room. That said, competitors like the Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Flex offer more spacious interiors that may make them a better choice for buyers with large families.

Front and second-row seats are plenty comfortable, but the third-row's lack of legroom makes it best suited to pre-teen passengers. The second-row bench slides fore and aft and reclines for greater comfort. This seat's unique 40/20/40-split design, with a removable center section that stows neatly in a special compartment beneath the center console, also makes it easy to access the way-back bench even with a pair of child car seats strapped into the second row.

When you've got cargo to haul, the Highlander offers a healthy 95.4 cubic feet of space with the second- and third-row seatbacks folded down. The fact that the third-row seat folds down as a single unit instead of being split 50/50 as in many competitive models is a disadvantage, especially when trying to schlep both passengers and cargo.

Driving Impressions

If you're used to the lumbering trucklike feel of traditional SUVs, the 2010 Toyota Highlander will feel like a pleasure to drive. The fully independent suspension delivers decent handling, at least by family-hauler standards, and the ride quality is surprisingly smooth even with the slightly firmer suspension on Sport models. The steering feels light enough for easy parking lot maneuverability while retaining enough precision to inspire confidence in everyday driving.

The 3.5-liter V6 adds to the appeal by providing strong acceleration that makes this 4,000-pound crossover seem smaller than it is. The fact that this powertrain is also among the most fuel-efficient in the category is an added bonus.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Not perfect, but ok

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

My wife and I bought this car as the Family vehicle. Luckily, we purchased an extended warranty when new. The Gold standard I have of a reliable vehicle is just gas it up and go. I also include regular service intervals at dealer. This Highlander is not that vehicle. Although mechanically it seems great the car has its flaws. Automatic tailgate does not work reliably. Ours has been replaced but the problem has returned. Check enthusiast web sites and you can see the problem well described. We have also used our extended warranty on AC water leak into cabin, replaced sensors and a headlight switch. The warranty has paid for itself. My wifes 1st toyota and she does not want another toyota.

Toyota empty promisses!

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

It's really a gas guzzler i never got more than 11 miles per gallon on it. I did like all of us, first I look at the numbers promise by Toyota, than I tought I would make a rational decision, then comes the deception. Took it many times to the dealer, all is fine, no check engine light on, no codes, nothing at all! Tire size is the rignt one, pressure is fine, I only use premium gas (no ethanol filler gas), used recommanded oil, 99% of the time I drive on flat surface road, still get bad gas milage. I change my old 4runner for a Highlander, what a bad choice, made to deceive. Maybe whit all the new subcontacts Toyota is a china made machine with a Toyota sticker on it!

4 years later, still a

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Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

I purchased my Highlander in November 2009. 48k miles later and she still drives like she did off of the lot. Plenty of cargo space to accommodate our family of 4. Enough acceleration to make merging onto any freeway a breeze. It's average around 20 mpg. The interior of the car has held up very well. Plenty of room and head clearance (I'm 6'3"). Quiet and soft ride. It handles much like a Camry. We've had no problems, other than the tires wearing out at 30k miles. Put some Michelin tires on and they haven't had any wear after 18k miles. I do wish it had an outside temp reading on the dash. The 3rd row is very cramped, and hard to get to, but we don't really need it anyways.

Great ride!

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

I really enjoy my 2010 Toyota Highlander Limited. This vehicle definitely has a great amount of power along with a smooth and quite ride. I have previously owned some of Lexus's high end SUV's and I must say I don't see much of a difference in the ride quality, features, style, etc. Granted I did purchase the limited so the features are much improved over the base model. The only thing I can say negative about the highlander is fuel economy. I get around 16 mpg with a good mix of highway and city driving. I understand that is not awful for a midsize to somewhat larger SUV but I just don't like that they state its 20 city & 27 highway. That being said BUY THIS VEHICLE!

We like it

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Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

Really the only thing I can think to complain about is the steering. The steer by wire requires constant correction and has a different feel to it. AWD was adequete for my wife this winter without winter tires. Plenty of pickup when you want it! No outside temp reading on base model??? 29k come on lets add in a few basic options that all competitors have. I like the interior set up ecspecially the backseat space. Never get better than 18.5mpg mixed driving with 8k on odometer.

Great, versatile vehicle

by on
Vehicle: 2010 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)

Purchased in Dec 2009. 17000 miles later, still loving it. Lots of room for our 2 dogs and camping gear in the back with seats folded down. Very comfortable for 4 on a road trip with the seats up. Rock solid reliability. Bought the 4cyl with tow pkg. We occasionally tow our jetski to the beach and the 4 cyl is more than up to the task. Our only complaint, we were hoping for better gas milage. We have yet to see the EPA rated 27 on the highway, no matter how conservatively we drive. We've averaged 22.1 MPG since new with about a 50/50 mix of highway and city. Our best milage on road trip with just the two of us and no cargo was 25.38. Overall though, very pleased.

Talk About The 2010 Highlander

2010 Toyota Highlander Discussions See all Started By

I got in my 2010 Highlander and started it and the small display screen that shows gas milage, air temps, time, temperature. etc. just went white. It appears to have light behind it but will not displ...

Does anyone know when the 2010 Toyota Highlander will be released for sale to the public?...

Any word on when the newly re-designed 2014 Hignlander will debut? It should be soon. Any available spy pics? And what would your wish list include for new changes or features? I currently own a 2010?...

Gas Mileage


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