2013 Toyota Highlander Consumer Review: Rear Entertainment System issu

2013 Toyota Highlander - Consumer Review

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Rear Entertainment System issue
By jkb7 on


2013 Toyota Highlander Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)


Just bought this vehicle with rear ent. sys and was extremely disappointed to find that Toyota decided to apparently use a new radio this year that is not connected to the rear entertainment system.
Audio for movies is available through the included wireless headphones or you have to use an aftermarket solution like a bluetooth connection (not provided) or run a manual cable from one of the headphone jacks of the ent. system to the auxillary jack on the radio which should work in theory.
Considering Toyota is still charging a premium price for the Rear Entertainment System, and the dealers are not even aware that the sound is not avbl thru the speakers, I wanted to warn potential buyers.

Recommend (83) (39)

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By afishism
on 05/01/13 22:21 PM (PDT)

Potential 2013 Highlander LTD buyers beware! As noted above, the in-dash audio/navigation unit in this model/year (the last of the 2nd generation Highlander) is just that -- audio and navigation only. It does not connect to the rear DVD unit, as our far-superior 2011 Highlander's integrated audio/navigation/DVD did. This means you can't turn the DVD sound on from the dashboard, you can't hear the DVD's sound through the vehicle's audio speakers (what?!), and the kids must use the clumsy wireless headsets to hear the DVD -- which my 3-year-old simply won't do, rendering the unit entirely useless for him and us. Inexplicably, the in-dash audio/nav unit has a place on the touch screen indicating at least some DVD functionality, but it is "ghosted" out (inactivated) on the screen. This seems like a mistake or a defect, but Toyota stands firmly/defiantly behind the system as is, offering no explanation of the blanked-out DVD indicator on the touch screen, or the change to a less-(non-)functional unit for 2013. It's truly a worthless system, yet they're still charging a grand or more for it. Don't buy it! Aside from this, the nav screen is very undersized (a puny 6.1 inches vs. the 8-inch screen in the 2011 model). You can barely make out the navigation map and icons. In exchange for a tiny display and no DVD functionality, apparently, you do get the "Entune" technology, with some apps (stock checking, etc.) that you don't need in a vehicle anyway. Yippee! And let me just say that the dashboard aesthetics and controls of the 2013 audio/nav unit are atrocious, embarrassing for a $40,000-plus LTD vehicle. It almost looks as if Toyota ran out of the custom-made units for this final model year, and instead went cheap and tried to jam an undersized, after-market JBL unit into the dashboard, complete with a fabricated plastic "blank" around the unit to fill the space that was intended for a larger, custom-fit unit. Where the old unit "flaired" outward at the top as part of the dashboard aesthetic, the new unit is a straight rectangle. Below the screen, where various other dashboard control buttons previously resided, they have fabricated a hollowed-out plastic hole -- for a wallet or something, I suppose. Toyota took the large control knobs that were used in the previous model years' integrated audio/nav/DVD unit and make them nearly-useless, oversized push-buttons for the passenger airbags and warning flashers. Those are now two of the biggest buttons on the dashboard. On top of this, to operate the audio controls, the new undersized unit has these additional, tiny (and very cheesy control knobs), like an old aftermarket "stereo" from the 1990s. And, as noted above, neither the dealers (nor anyone at Toyota, frankly) seems to be aware of any perceived "problems" with the audio/nav or DVD configuration. They just stand behind it firmly and essentially tell questioning owners to pound sand. I wouldn't have believed any of this if I weren't experiencing it myself, but it is all true. So beware and know what you are buying before closing the deal.

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By hugapug
on 11/12/13 17:18 PM (PST)

You CAN use the car audio for DVDs. There is an "FM TX" function in the DVD Player's Sound Settings that will allow you to tune an FM station and hear the audio (default is 88.3, but 88.7 works better in my city). Still archaic and a poor design, but at least it's a workaround.

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By srikp
on 11/15/13 21:51 PM (PST)

Guys - I have just taken delivery of the Highlander SE today with the extra option of the Rear DVD Entertainment system. I opted for the roof mounted instead of the head rest model. The DVD will be fitted on Tuesday. Now this news that the DVD audio is not integrated with the car radio is unfortunately very hard to swallow!!! Wish I had done my research before. Thanks to hugapug about the workaround. I was given the DVD player as an add-on for $800 (thats the cost of opting for the head rest model but I am being given the roof mount model). Should I refuse the DVD and take a refund and instead put an after market product?

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By carmikeaz
on 10/23/13 20:05 PM (PDT)

Why would anyone spend so much money for a DVD player built into their car? You can buy 2 very nice tablets for around $500-700. Tablets are far more versatile than a DVD player built into your car and cost a lot less. Why does anyone pay $1000 for a Nav system? Does your smart phone not have GPS on it? Can't you buy an Garmin for about $200?? People are crazy with what they spend on cars!

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By lillious
on 01/15/13 12:21 PM (PST)

I too purchased the 2013 Highlander, fully loaded, in October. Since the day I picked it up I have been in communication with Customer Service Toyota Motor Sales in California regarding the inability to hear the audio from the DVD system. Our local Toyota dealership was not aware that one can only hear the system with the wireless headphones. Aside from the danger for little ears it is unacceptable that Toyota has not even told any of their sales departments that the new Highlander has this problem. And it is a problem. I purchased this vehicle solely to transport my 18 month and 3 year old grandchildren. We now have to use a cord and have it hanging from the interior roof DVD system to the port by the radio. Toyota has sent me other devices to try and fix the problem and now they say it isn't their problem. They now say that it is my assumption that the system should work without headphones. Really? My 2011 Sequoia worked fine without headphones. Why wouldn't I assume that the newer model Highlander would work the same? And all those devices they sent would require me to have even more wires hanging in my car. And make the use of my IPhone (which has to be plugged in for Entune to work) void unless I now get a splitter for the Iphone. More wires!!! And the concern that the device will lose it's pairing every time the car is shut off. Should Toyota not resolve this issue I will not be purchasing another Toyota in the future. We are a family that has owned Toyota's for many years. Currently there are 5 in our family and they will be the last. If they aren't telling sales staff about this problem what other problems are they having that they aren't telling us about? All I have asked for, after being patient for 3 months, is for the system I paid a lot of money for to work as it should. There isn't even any information about it in their manuals. Their engineers goofed and they know it. Shame on you Toyota.

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