Overview of the 2021 Toyota Highlander
The 2021 Toyota Highlander is a midsized 3-row SUV with an attractive, sporty design and comfortable handling over long distances. It has six trims and comes with either the standard V6 engine or hybrid engine, extensive smart driving assistance features, and semiautomatic emergency steering. Despite the smaller third row and cargo space, our review of the 2021 Toyota Highlander finds this vehicle a great value for money.
Features and Specifications
The 2021 Toyota Highlander comes in the L, LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum trims, and the Hybrid Highlanders are available in LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum trims. All trims come with LED headlamps, manual slide window shades for privacy, wireless smartphone chargers, excellent legroom, and thigh support. The cargo space for all the
Highlanders can comfortably fit four carry-on suitcases, making it great for grocery runs and road trips. The tiered dashboard design is great for organizing and storing small items, which is handy for a family SUV, and the control panel is angled towards the driver for comfortable steering.
The basic L trim has 18-inch wheels, active safety features, cloth upholstery, and either the two-wheel or all-wheel drive at an extra cost. The Platinum trim has luxury features like 20-inch wheels, best-in-class audio, surround-view camera system, leather upholstery, cooled, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and ambient lighting.
The L and LE trims carry eight passengers, while the higher trims are configured for 7 passengers, with the smaller third row in all the 2021 Toyota Highlander trims designed for children. Additionally, the XSE trim looks edgier than the rest with 20-inch wheels, unique bumper design, sporty suspension, and steering.
All 2021 Toyota Highlanders come with the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 2.5+ advanced driving assistance system, which is an upgrade of the TSS 2.0, so it now includes intersection support for left turns and emergency steering for evasive maneuvers. The L, LE, and XLE trims also have upgraded headlights for better after-dark visibility.
The TSS 2.5+ features are adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane centering, lane keeping and lane departure assistance, road sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian detection, and forward-collision warning system.
The TSS 2.5+ is fully customizable to adjust the sensitivity of some of the features or turn them on or off when driving, giving our review of the 2021 Toyota
Highlander one of the highest safety ratings today.
All the 2021 Toyota Highlander trims offer unique entertainment systems. They all feature Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, SiriusXM satellite radio, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity with a free 2GB data plan for 3 months Safety Connect subscription service with a free 1-year trial.
The Highlander Hybrid models come with extra entertainment options like Remote Connect for one year free and Service Connect for 10 years free. The Limited trim also comes with Destination Assist for one year free, an impressive voice recognition system for three years free, and a JBL 11-speaker sound system.
As for display options, all trims come with an 8-inch touchscreen, except for the Platinum trim that has a 12.3-inch touchscreen display. The display is very responsive and intuitively designed, so it’s a great idea to personalize the infotainment features to suit the driver’s needs.
The standard 2021 Toyota Highlander engine is a V6 engine, 3.5-liter 295-horsepower with 8-speed automatic transmission that allows front-wheel or all-wheel-drive configurations. The 243-horsepower Hybrid powertrain is more fuel-efficient but comes at a premium price of $1,400 above the V6 offering.
It is based on a 4-cylinder 2.5-liter engine and includes continuously variable transmission (CVT) and electric driver-assist motor, and the battery pack is set underneath the back seat. There is also a second electric motor that recharges the battery and the regenerative braking system. In the all-wheel configuration, the rear wheels are powered by a rear axle electric motor.
Our review of the 2021 Toyota Highlander finds several driving modes, such as Normal, Eco, and Sport. However, the EV, Trail, and Brake Hold modes give better control over the vehicle in different scenarios.
The EV mode is great for short distances and slow speeds in which the Highlander can go fully electric. Brake Hold is ideal in high traffic because it automatically maintains the right pressure on the brake pedal at traffic lights.
Top Reasons to buy the 2021 Toyota Highlander
The 2021 Toyota Highlander scores highly on fuel efficiency for its size, especially for the Hybrid powertrain. However, the sporty XSE trim gives the Highlander an edge above the typical family-style SUV.
It delivers a stable driving experience and the best safety on and off the highways and off-road. A clean, functional interior and an athletic exterior make the 2021 Toyota Highlander a stylish, spacious, and comfortable ride for the whole family.
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