I purchased my V6 Base AWD Highlander early December 2010 because I was expecting my second child in January and simply wanted something affordable, safe and solid to drive the family around in.
After an extensive pre-purchase research and 3,000 miles later, I can best described the Highlander as the Mario of SUVs.
The Highlander, much like Mario in the Super Mario Brother video game franchise, is not the biggest, strongest, fastest or best looking SUV around.
But it just seems to do everything just right (e.g., affordability, fit and finish, interior space / configuration, engine, controls, safety features, comfort, dash layout, MPG) much like Mario.
So it is the perfect all-around SUV
My favorite features are the V6 engine (smooth, quiet, and fast I cant stress how impress I am with the V6),
the middle row of seats( slides, reclines, captain chairs capable, remove center seat and walk through to 3rd row, no middle floor hump), simple, clean and intuitive dash board layout and controls, the split third row, and the quick flat fold release handles in the trunk.
I wish the base model had power lift gate as an option (wife hates leather), the 3rd row access quick release on both sides (only on passenger side), smaller wheel wells and or deeper floor in 3rd row to increase room, flush handle bar with the driver side arm rest (the driver side handle bar is vertical and about 2 inches behind the door / window controls so you must reach around the handle to access the controls. Toyota should have just made it horizontal / flat and flush with the arm rest so you can rest your arm and access the controls, which you cant currently do), a 3rd LATCH (only has two)