Sweet V6, a smoothie everywhere on the tach. Decent power, but it has a lot of SUV to move here. Full-throttle upshifts are also incredibly supple, though pretty slow. Our quickest runs came using the old brake-throttle overlap method at launch to bring the revs up slightly. The AWD launches the Highlander pretty hard when doing this, with zero wheelspin. Using the Sport or Manual shifting mode was about a tenth quicker than Drive, but it still upshifts for itself at 6,000 rpm anyway. Manual shifting is via the console lever (pull back for downshifts). Does not blip the throttle on manual downshifts.
Moderate to spongy pedal feel, a decent amount of nosedive but still well-controlled stops. Oddly, hardly any ABS commotion or tire screech, but reasonably good stopping distances for such a heavy vehicle. The first stop was the longest at 123 feet, the second stop was shortest at 116 feet. The sixth and final stop took 121 feet.
Slalom: Steering is on the slow side, but still intuitive nonetheless. Meaning, it goes where it's pointed. That said, this is a lot of SUV to move from side to side around the cones, and the suspension is on the soft side so there's a lot of body roll. The stability control system initially seems tuned perfectly in terms of gentle cut-in. That is, until you really start throwing the thing around, and then it stabs the brakes dramatically. Skid pad: Considerably better grip than the previous Highlander. And what's cool is that dialing the throttle in and out has big effects on the oversteer/understeer. It responds well, though there's no denying the amount of body lean allowed causes major abuse on the outside front tire.