I have only owned Toyota vehicles, a Celica, 4 Runner and now the Highlander. All in all I like the Highlander, however I do have one big gripe, for some reason, when the car is on, but not moving or moving slowly, the car vibrates (which can lightly be felt in the steering wheel, foot pedal, and seat). I took it to services at the Toyota dealership and was told that it was the motor idling and the sales manager even told me that this was a glinch in the 2006 four cylinder Highlander model. I don't know.
I bought this SUV late June after considering multiple sedans and other model SUVs. I test drove the Highlander and instantly fell in love with the drive and comfort. So far, gas mileage is OK (haven't really officially clocked city and highway) and the air conditioning system is great! (Cools the car within seconds.) Overall, this car is a great value for the money. The 4 cylinder engine has enough pep for both highway and city driving so I didn't see a need to purchase the V6 model.
Purchased Jan. 2006 at the time my requirement was back seat size, trunk space, side curtain air bags and great than 20 MPG. This brought us to the Toyota Highlander. It has been FANTASTIC for our family. I travel an average of 25,000 miles a year and have NO real complaints. I still when I get in say "i love this car". No major mechanical issues at all! Just routine maintenance. Change the oil every 5-7,000 miles - it is perfect.
Our Highlander has been nothing but flawless. Not a single warranty issue and it does an excellent job as our family vehicle. The only thing I would have done different was not get the 3rd row seat. It was never used once in the almost 4 years I have owned it. Also, if you want to buy a first generation Highlander, I highly recommend getting a 2005-2007 model. This was after the Minor Model change and the interior is much better than the 2004 and earlier models.
Not many 4 cyl SUVs drive and have the ride this one does. I get great gas mileage (25+) I also liked the feature that this suv is rated to tow a 3,000 lb trailer. I was impressed by that because most of the crossover suvs can only tow 1,000 lbs. The brakes could stop on a dime.