The 2017 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV, substantially updated from the previous year, maintains the model's tradition of providing a practical blend of comfort, space and reasonable drivability, while adding a bit more style and a host of new features. Untouched are many of the Highlander's strong suits, including a well-packaged interior, three-row seating, a generous cargo area and available all-wheel drive.
One of the biggest changes for the Highlander in 2017 is the availability of a new, direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque and comes mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that replaces the previous six-speed. Another change this year is the addition of the SE model, which slots in just below the Limited trim level and features sportier suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels and unique exterior and interior trim.
The standard powerplant for the base LE trim remains the 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 185 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. In a vehicle that weighs at least 5665 pounds — depending on drivetrain and options — its performance can only be described as barely adequate. And to bring the Highlander up to par with its rivals, most of which come with a standard V6, the majority of buyers will likely order the optional six-cylinder engine.
A stylish new grille and front and rear lights headline the exterior changes for the Highlander in 2017, along with an overall more muscular look and several new color and finish choices. On-road performance continues to lean more toward comfort, rather than taut handling, although the Highlander remains competitive with its major rivals in this area. Buyers interested in improving handling a bit might want to test-drive the new SE model.
Inside is where the Highlander continues to excel. While not ultra-luxurious, the interior combines plenty of leg, head and shoulder room with updated materials and an abundance of clever storage solutions. And buyers are sure to appreciate the addition of a number of the latest advanced safety features and host of technology options.
The front-wheel drive 2017 Highlander with the four-cylinder engine is EPA rated at 22 mpg combined (20 city/24 highway). The FWD V6 gets a rating of 23 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway) making it a logical choice, especially for those planning to use their Toyota SUV for family vacations.
The base LE trim comes well equipped with many attractive safety and convenience features. The LE Plus and XLE models up the standard features, while the new SE trim offers both additional standard goodies and a few sporty touches. At the top of the line sit the Limited and Limited Platinum versions, which provide considerably increased comfort and luxury. Let Edmunds help you find just the right 2017 Toyota Highlander to meet your needs.