2011 Toyota Highlander SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Toyota Highlander SUV

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Toyota Highlander Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 270 hp @ 6200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Toyota Highlander

  • The 2011 Toyota Highlander's V6 engine, versatile interior and carlike maneuverability make it a good choice as a do-all family vehicle, though several competitors offer more interior space and utility.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful yet fuel-efficient V6; user-friendly cabin with innovative second-row seat design; easy to maneuver.

  • Cons

    Less overall passenger and cargo space than some competitors; carlike refinement though not SUV utility.

  • What's New for 2011

    For 2011, the Toyota Highlander receives a refresh that includes restyled front and rear ends and a few more standard features. Among the latter are a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat and rear climate controls for base and SE trims. Lastly, the Sport trim level has been dropped.

Full 2011 Toyota Highlander Review

What's New for 2011

For 2011, the Toyota Highlander receives a refresh that includes restyled front and rear ends and a few more standard features. Among the latter are a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat and rear climate controls for base and SE trims. Lastly, the Sport trim level has been dropped.


When it debuted 10 years ago, the Toyota Highlander blazed the trail for midsize crossover SUVs. At the time, we wondered whether people would like this "Camry wagon" (the Highlander typically has had a lot of Camry in its DNA) or continue to stick with truck-based SUVs. Well, the last decade has pretty much proven that refined carlike crossovers have prevailed.

Thanks to a quiet, fairly roomy cabin, a V6 engine that is both smooth and comfortable and a reputation for reliability, the Highlander has remained one of the most popular midsize crossovers. A refresh for the 2011 Highlander brings updated styling and additional standard features. A new third-row seat has a 50/50-split folding design that makes it easier to configure the vehicle for passenger use or cargo hauling.

Otherwise, the 2011 Toyota Highlander stays the course. This means a smooth, quiet ride and comfortable seating for up to seven passengers (though the third row is a bit tight compared with some of the Highlander's competition). The Highlander also boasts a 40/20/40-split second-row seat with a removable center seat that allows walk-through access to the third row, not to mention the comfort of captain's chairs with fold-down armrests in the second row.

While the midsize 2011 Toyota Highlander has a lot going for it, this crossover faces some stiff competition. The larger crossovers from General Motors -- the 2011 Buick Enclave, 2011 Chevrolet Traverse and 2011 GMC Acadia -- offer more cavernous interiors with seating for up to eight passengers. The 2011 Ford Flex and 2011 Mazda CX-9 also have their own distinct advantages, as do the totally redesigned Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer. We suggest checking out these models, but in general we still believe the Highlander hits the sweet spot between passenger-car comfort and SUV-style utility.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Toyota Highlander is a midsize seven-passenger crossover offered in base, SE and Limited trim levels.

The entry-level Highlander comes equipped with 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, rear privacy glass, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split-folding second-row seat that both reclines and slides fore and aft, a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat, air-conditioning (with rear controls), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack.

Step up to the SE and you get a sunroof, power tailgate (with a separate glass hatch), roof rails, foglamps, windshield wiper de-icer, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cargo area-mounted releases for folding down the second-row seats, a back-up camera, and an upgraded audio system (optional on base) with satellite radio, a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio.

The Limited adds 19-inch cast-aluminum wheels, additional chrome exterior trim and power-folding/heated outside mirrors with puddle lamps. The cabin also gets upgraded leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition/entry, a 10-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat and wood-grain accents.

The Highlander's options list varies by trim level and region, but those available include a towing prep package, an upgraded JBL sound system (with six-disc CD changer and subwoofer), a navigation system (includes the JBL sound system but with a four-disc CD changer) and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2011 Toyota Highlander is available with a choice of two engines. The Base model can be had with a 2.7-liter inline-4 engine that puts out 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/25 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined.

Optional for the base and SE and standard for the Highlander Limited is a 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 optional. A Highlander Limited AWD tested by Edmunds sprinted from zero to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds, performance that makes it one of the quickest crossovers on the road.

Properly equipped, a Highlander V6 can 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 these numbers to 17/22/19.


The Highlander comes with a long list of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes, stability control and hill-start assist. All-wheel-drive models also come with hill-descent control, which electronically intervenes with the antilock brakes to control speed 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 (the highest possible) in both frontal-offset and side impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2011 Toyota Highlander features an attractive cabin, especially the top-of-the-line Limited model. Visibility is excellent, while the straightforward layout of gauges and controls makes for refreshingly intuitive operation.

The front- and second-row seats are plenty comfortable, but the third-row seat's lack of legroom makes it best suited to pre-teen passengers. The Highlander's second-row bench slides fore and aft and reclines for greater comfort. This seat's unique 40/20/40-split design, which has 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.

Driving Impressions

If you're used to the lumbering trucklike feel of a traditional SUV, the 2011 Toyota Highlander will be a pleasure to drive. The fully independent suspension delivers decent handling, at least by family-hauler standards, and the ride quality is surprisingly smooth. The steering feels light enough for easy parking-lot maneuverability, though it is rather numb and uninspiring compared to its crossover rivals.

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great car...some quality issues...poor customer

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

The only negative regarding this car relates to quality issues (power windows and sun visor) and specifically the way the dealership and Toyota executed their customer service. Otherwise, the vehicle is a joy to drive and (so far) very reliable. The driver's sun visor has broken twice in less than three years. The dealership, Rice Toyota, and Toyota have, in the end replaced the sun visor at no charge, however Toyota corp's customer service has disappointed me due to failed follow up promises. The power window failed due to a nut that came off the window...a repair we paid for. These relatively "minor' repairs make me less positive toward the brand's quality and customer service.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

I tried to like it,

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Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

Positive: Suppose to have stellar reliability and has a good resale, quick, relatively roomy and comfortable if you are not a driver. Negatives: Most surfaces and materials don't belong in $40,000 car (ok with me) , drives like minivan/truck crossover with very light and not communicative steering (does not drives, but floats), 3 rd row not usable - not just because of size/just plywood covered in cheap vinyl, no blind spot monitoring ( a must because of size, blind spots), no adaptive xenon headlights, average MPG for it size ( computer always overstate by 1 MPG). Toyota keeps being arrogant and substantially raised prices for 2012 without any improvements, that worked in my favor. My last 5 cars were Toyota's. After buying my first Mazda and then a Subaru I discovered that they are build as good or better than Toyota and pleasure to drive. Checked with Consumer reports and others and discovered that it is not only my opinion: Subaru and Mazda are higher rated that Toyota. Replaced 2011 Highlander Limited with 2012 CX-9 GT for only $2000 extra (no financing): pleasure to drive and handing like compact CUV/sedan (yet substantially bigger than Highlander), very usable 3rd row, near luxury interior/exterior, all the extras and safety futures not even available in Highlander, reliability should be terrific also - six year of the model and built in Japan.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Stay away from the pricy

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Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

Good overall, but it doesn't mean competition is bad. If you're interested in the Nav, the only advantage you'll get for $2000 extra is the bigger backup camera screen. Nav is terrible for $2000. TOYOTA MUST GIVE AWAY this nav rather than sell it. It's very old tech. Many owners also get lost because they can't park the car just to make corrections. Voice command is very ancient and limited (only 3 entries shown at a time). Save the $2000, buy the high-end portable nav, and keep the difference. You'll get better and safer guidance. I drive with the screen always off because of the frustrating User interface.

The best suv in the

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Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

Hello, The Highlander is the best in the segment i would say. The ride quality is far better than other suvs in this segment. You got to drive this decent SUV ... I am sure there will be no one who would not love it. Decent fuel economy, Robust feel while driving ( sturdy), very reliable, Smooth V6 and superb drive quality, best for family with small kids, Amazing family car

8 of 14 people found this review helpful

Comfy family hauler absent of

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Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

My wife insisted on buying this car as a family vehicle. The car is very comfortable, quiet and has good acceleration. It's spacious, loads lots of stuff and has been reliable. Fuel economy is good for the class, but nothing to bragg about (it is after all a hulking SUV). We average about 22 miles/gallon. On the negative side, the car has prominet torque steer if you make use of only half the power, the steering is as numb as could be and the car floats more than it drives. Excitement factor is zero. It's totally incapable in snow despite its appearance. Rear visibility is very poor and the backup camera a must. Blue tooth is very basic and doesn't switch between different phones.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

2011 toy highlander v6 4wd

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Vehicle: 2011 Toyota Highlander 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)

Excellent vehicle overall. Excellent alternative to a van. Previously owned vans for the past 10 years (Sienna & Odyssey). It was time for a change. We shopped around for the best mid size replacement as an alternative to a van at our price point. Our biggest concern was loosing the versatility of a van, which will always be there. We drove the Ford Edge, GMC Terrain, and Toyota Venza. Of the three we ruled out the Edge & Terrain. The Venza was the best of the three. We then realized a must for us was a 3rd seat to accomodate additional passengers as needed. We realized we had to increase our price point & test drove the Highlander. We immediately realized this to be a perfect fit.

Talk About The 2011 Highlander

2011 Toyota Highlander Discussions See all Started By

The Highlander sounds like what I need, if it only had a 4wd on-demand option, which it doesn't....

Does anyone has any idea if Toyota is going to come up with 2012 Highlander in November or December, or they'll continue with 2011 model....

2 dealerships have sent me 47% residual for the Highlander!...

Read more about the 2011 Toyota Highlander

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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