Used 2015 Toyota Highlander LE SUV Review

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2015 Toyota Highlander LE SUV.

Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars
4 Cylinder gets great Mileage!
Tim Fisk,07/23/2015
LE 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)
I bought the base model LE Highlander and I am impressed with it, especially the suspension and drivetrain. It is very smooth, quiet, and fuel efficient. The four cylinder model has all the power you need, as I have never had a lead foot. I got great mileage above the EPA 20 -25 mpg advertised. I averaged 26.2 mpg on a 3600 mile trip. By keeping your foot out of the gas, you can achieve good results and still do 70-80mph on the Interstate. It handles well and has good control in rain and mountains. The climate control system is superior and I liked everything about this vehicle, except the cloth seats could be better quality. My wife complained that the side mirrors are too big, but I like them as is. As an old geezer I don't really care about the new computer technology gizmos and this base model suits my needs admirably. After comparing numerous mid sized SUV models, I chose this vehicle because I have had good luck with Toyotas. This is my fourth. 1/23/17 update: Had car for One and a half years. 12,600 on odometer. Still impressed. Only complaint is 4 cylinder on cruise control can't hold top gear on slight inclines at freeway speed. It constantly power downshifts at 75-80mph, which keeps me honest and ticketless. The comfort of the suspension is still awesome. It is mainly my wifes car and she gets 18-22 mpg around the city 'cause she likes to juice it more than me. Very satisfied owner. 1/26/18 update: Vehicle is still going strong. 24K on odometer. Moved to the Rockies, car handles high altitude and snow very well. No problems at all. Still, it's a mom bomb that rides like a cadillac so I'm happy with it. Starts right up in cold weather (-5 degrees), warms up quickly, and the snow feature keeps you from slipping on packed snow on the road. I think front wheel drive is 90 percent as good as all wheel drive if you don't get too crazy with dirt roads, mud, and snow. Overall, the vehicle is holding up very well with the limited abuse I subject it to. It is a good value for a base model.
2 out of 5 stars
Good Car But Don't Buy- Poor Dashboard Technology
Gene,03/12/2016
LE 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)
The navigation system leaves a lot to be desired. I read some of the other reviews and I agree that it's not intuitive to operate and the lack of functions that can be used when moving is not good. I have an example as to why I don't trust the navigation system. I was 2.5 miles from home. I know how to get there. To show the issue let me say I compared the Toyota system to my Garmin unit, Apple Maps, and Google Maps. All three non-Toyota devices computed the route successfully as 2.5 miles and about 6 minutes. The Toyota wanted me to take another route which was 3.9 miles and 11 minutes. Not good. I pulled over to better use the controls. The Toyota showed 2 routes (the alternate was the same as Short so I am not including that). Quick 3.9 miles 11 minutes Starting in 2018 the radio (dashboard display) would go blank and reboot itself. It would do this sometimes more than twice in a 10 mile trip! I have owned many vehicles. This is the first one where the radio and related technology is giving me a problem. Most likely my last Toyota The voice recognition system is also poor. I set up the "training" session with the unit. If I say "Call Jane Doe" and Jane Doe is not in my contacts it does not tell me that it fails. So I have a difficult time doing voice commands. I then contact Toyota and ask if there is a way I can disable the dashboard "intelligence" and talk directly to Siri. They say, "no:. They add that it would be dangerous but all I have to do is push a button on my phone and it DOES understand me. Short 2.5 miles 6 minutes How can the quickest route be 5 minutes longer than the "short". The "short" was both less miles and less time. The Garmin understands short to mean distance and quickest to be the fastest time. Lastly, if you have a way point (destination) you can't cancel the route, the Toyota option is to "Delete" it. But you are not deleting it as it still goes into "previous destinations". Just bad terminology for a navigation system. I have engaged Toyota on this and this and other issues that I have and there is "nothing they can do" If I go some place that is new, I take my Garmin. I have owned many cars over the years. I have never had a car’s radio die before. Actually it doesn’t die it just reboots the dashboard panel. It happens out of nowhere several times during a long trip. I don’t know what causes it but it very annoying. I am done with Toyota.
3 out of 5 stars
Technology challenged!!!!!
Dan,03/19/2016
LE 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)
This car has the absolutely worst interface i have ever experienced. I had numerous lexus models and never had a problem with their electronics. I realize this is not a lexus but the Toyota brand has sunk to terrible lows in putting the Head unit ( navigation and entertainment) in this car. They ruin the entire experience of ownership. A car that does a reasonable job on comfort and economy falls down terribly when the navigation and entertainment system shuts down every fifteen mins. After ten shop visits and a final escalation to Toyota HQ, the answer was the unit is not completely compatible with the Apple iPhone. Really, not compatible with the most popular phone on the planet. I didn't believe it at first but i have come to believe them. After having been stranded many times due to navigation failures i gave up and sold the car. I move back to MB and i have never been happier. I hope someone in Toyota reads this and realizes they lost a customer for ever. I would never buy another vehicle from them.
4 out of 5 stars
Toyota Highlander review
Bob,07/07/2018
LE 4dr SUV (2.7L 4cyl 6A)
Total costs associated with the dealership

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 Toyota Highlander LE SUV

Pros & Cons

  • Refined interior appointments
  • quiet, compliant ride
  • smooth and strong V6 engine
  • seating for up to eight
  • fresh technology offerings.
  • Lackluster four-cylinder engine
  • third-row seat isn't as roomy as those in some other top rivals.


Full Edmunds Review: 2015 Toyota Highlander SUV

After last year's thorough redesign, the 2015 Toyota Highlander stays true to its no-nonsense roots. It remains a top choice in the three-row family crossover class.

Vehicle overview

With so many people haulers out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Well, let's start with your list of needs. Do you need room for up to eight people? A comfortable and quiet ride? Good performance and fuel economy? How about the option of rear seat DVD entertainment or even occasionally towing up to 5,000 pounds? If this reads just like your short list, then Toyota would like you to take a look at the versatile Highlander crossover SUV. It's back after a thorough redesign last year and better than ever.

The 2015 Toyota Highlander, now in its third generation, is a top contender in this family-friendly crossover SUV segment. Tossing out minivans and V8-powered toy box-hauling behemoths, the Highlander is likely the sweet spot for most. Offered in front- or all-wheel drive with a choice of four-cylinder or V6 engines, there are five distinct trim levels from which to choose, each offering increasing amounts of content with few factory options. This strategy makes the process of finding the right Highlander pretty easy.

No matter which one you're considering, know that you'll get a comfortable cabin with plenty of room for your family and their things. The Highlander's second row can be either a three-across bench or a double captain's chair affair with a side table. The Highlander is also pleasant and easy to drive, and with its refined V6 and smooth six-speed automatic, it's also one of the quickest SUVs out there (even among V8s). If tech is your thing, there's enough available high-end gear on the upper trim levels to keep you and your co-pilot "infotained" for days on end.

In light of all these qualities, we awarded a top "A" rating to the 2015 Toyota Highlander. Of course, that's not to say that Toyota's crossover is the best at absolutely everything. If you want a truly adult-friendly third row with easier access, for example, the Ford Flex would be a better bet. Another perennial favorite of ours is the Mazda CX-9, which is more fun to drive and offers more cargo space as well. There's also the handsome-looking V8-powered Dodge Durango or the three-row Hyundai Santa Fe, which stacks up nicely against the Highlander across the board. But the Highlander has history and the Toyota nameplate on its side, and it's one of our top picks for 2015.

2015 Toyota Highlander models

The 2015 Toyota Highlander is a three-row midsize crossover offered in LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum trim levels. Eight-passenger seating is standard on the LE, LE Plus and XLE, while seven-passenger seating (featuring second-row captain's chairs instead of a three-person bench) is optional on the XLE and standard on the Limited and Limited Platinum. Note that the related Highlander Hybrid is reviewed separately.

The base LE gets things started with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated exterior mirrors, privacy glass, a rear spoiler, cruise control, a rearview camera, fabric seating, manually adjustable front seats (six-way driver, four-way passenger), a sliding and reclining 60/40-split second-row seat, a 60/40-split third-row seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch central touchscreen and a six-speaker audio system with voice control, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.

Picking the LE Plus adds foglights, a flip-up rear hatch window, an adjustable-height power liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery with synthetic leather (SofTex) accents, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, satellite radio and HD radio.

The XLE further adds a sunroof, roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery for the first and second rows (SofTex for the third), an upgraded driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 110-volt power outlet in the second row, retractable second-row sunshades, driver voice amplification for communicating with rear passengers (Driver Easy Speak), an 8-inch central touchscreen, a navigation system and smartphone app integration (Entune App Suite).

Nearing the top, the Limited comes with 19-inch wheels, LED running lights, LED ambient interior lighting, second-row captain's chairs, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory functions, a four-way power passenger seat, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alerts, rear parking sensors and a 12-speaker JBL audio system.

There are no factory options available for the LE or LE Plus trim levels. The XLE can be outfitted with the second-row captain's chairs. An optional rear seat entertainment package for the XLE and Limited includes a Blu-ray player with 9-inch display, RCA jacks and wireless headphones.

On just the Limited you can also select the Driver Technology package, which fits the Highlander with automatic high-beam control headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, frontal collision warning, a frontal impact crash mitigation system (with automatic braking) and Toyota's Safety Connect telematics (emergency assistance, stolen vehicle location and automatic collision notification).

Finally, the top-shelf Highlander Limited Platinum reaps all of the above as standard and further includes a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel and heated second-row seats.

2015 Highlights

The 2015 Toyota Highlander is essentially unchanged.

Performance & mpg

The base Highlander LE starts with front-wheel drive and a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 22 mpg combined (20 city/25 highway), but that's barely better than the ratings for the stronger V6 engine.

That 3.5-liter V6 is optional on the LE and standard on all other trims. It's rated at 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is again a six-speed automatic that may be mated to either front- or all-wheel drive (Limited Platinum comes with standard AWD). The front-wheel-drive V6 configuration achieves an EPA-estimated 21 mpg combined (19 city/25 highway), while the AWD V6 drops a tick to 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway). We easily met these estimates when we recorded a real-world 23 mpg on Edmunds' 120-mile mixed-driving evaluation loop in an XLE AWD.

At the Edmunds test facility, we recorded a 7.3-second 0-60-mph time in that same XLE AWD, which is about a second quicker than the average for this segment. A Limited with front-wheel drive still outpaced most competitors with a run to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds.

The four-cylinder Highlander LE is rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds. An LE or LE Plus V6 is rated up to 2,000 pounds. A properly equipped Highlander XLE or Limited (with standard heavy-duty radiator, alternator and supplemental oil cooler) can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Safety

The 2015 Toyota Highlander comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag, a front passenger seat-cushion airbag and full-length side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also standard.

The Limited trim gets a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and its optional Driver Technology package (standard on Limited Platinum) adds a frontal collision warning and mitigation system (with automatic braking), lane-departure warning and Toyota's Safety Connect telematics (emergency assistance, stolen-vehicle location and automatic collision notification). Unfortunately, these items are unavailable on lesser Highlander trims.

In a simulated panic stop from 60 mph conducted at the Edmunds test facility, a Highlander XLE AWD managed a braking distance of 116 feet, a very good distance for this class.

In government crash testing, the Highlander received a five-star overall rating (out of a possible five), with four stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for total side impact protection. During testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Highlander received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset impact test, the Highlander received the second-highest rating of "Acceptable." Its seat and head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Driving

Most 2015 Toyota Highlander buyers end up with the tried-and-true V6 engine, and it's easy to see why: You get almost the same fuel economy as with the base four-cylinder, along with an extra 85 hp and some of the smoothest acceleration in any crossover at this price. The six-speed automatic transmission works well and provides quick downshifts.

The meaty three-spoke steering wheel is precise, and if you drive quickly around a tight turn, the Highlander remains secure, with a decent amount of grip. As long as you're not looking for handling as athletic as the Mazda CX-9's, you'll likely find the Highlander sharp enough. Of course, the Highlander's bread and butter is ferrying passengers around in comfort, and here it excels. The cabin remains hushed at speed, and road impacts are generally shrugged off by the compliant suspension, though the Limited's 19-inch wheels don't do the ride any favors.

Interior

Hard plastics that were once the bane of the Highlander have since been supplanted by supple surfaces with fancy stitching at the seams. The gauge cluster has a contemporary look thanks in part to the multifunction information display that sits in the middle (especially the XLE and Limited's larger color version). Although the base 6.1-inch central touchscreen is, well, a bit basic in both form and function, the available 8-inch unit is more satisfying with its improved graphics and functionality.

Toyota has baked a number of handy storage features into the 2015 Highlander's interior. There's a unique built-in shelf on the dashboard, for instance, that can serve as a resting place for phones and other small personal effects. The shelf's short height, however, can make it hard to fit your hand in there to place or retrieve those items. Vastly more spacious is the storage box under the console armrest that's big enough for a large purse.

If you're expecting big-time space in the way back, we should warn you that adults will still find it cramped relative to some rivals. Kids will be fine, though, and the three-across seating bolsters the Highlander's credentials as a minivan substitute. On the cargo-carrying front, the available height-adjustable power liftgate with memory height settings is a boon in garages with low ceilings. Maximum hauling capacity tops out at 83.7 cubic feet, which is an average figure for this class of vehicle.

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Toyota Highlander in Virginia is:

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