Review Of The Car – 2021 Toyota Highlander


Overview of Vehicle

Less maintenance cost, great fuel economy, and reliability are what Toyota offers against the competition.  The Highlander, being the modern-day family station wagon, gets the job done with safety and comfort. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient three-row crossover SUVs and provides great safety features. The 2021 model has offered a new look among the highlander trim levels; the sporty XSE model. The lower trim levels are modest and capable while the higher one is the rival of luxury SUVs. It has off-roading capabilities and can tow up to 5000 pounds.

Features and Specs

In the 2021 lineup, there are 6 trim levels to choose from; L, LE, XLE, Limited, Platinum, and the new XSE. 

The basic trim level L provides features that include keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, emergency communications, power-adjustable driver seat, second and third row 60/40 split-folding seats, 18-inch wheels, etc.

Other features available in the higher trim levels such as the LE includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, fog lights, height-adjustable power liftgate. The XLE trim includes a sunroof, wireless charging pad, simulated leather upholstery, roof rails, auto-dimming rearview mirror, second-row captain chairs, heated front seats, and second-row sunshades. 

Limited includes 20-inch wheels, heated steering wheel, a household power outlet, leather upholstery, a hands-free liftgate, ventilated front seats with memory functions, intercom system (broadcasts the driver’s voice through the speakers so those in the back can hear them).

The highest trim level Platinum includes 20-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, automatic wipers, panoramic sunroof, digital rearview mirror, heads-up display, heated second-row seats, etc. 

Some of the safety features are as follows:

Adaptive cruise control, automatic braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, automatic high beam headlamps, side-impact beams, electronic stability control, front and rear parking assist, frontal collision mitigation, surround-view camera system, etc. 

The Highlander is available as an eight-seater as well as a seven-seater. Captain’s chair in the second row is an option in the higher trim levels but platinum gives it as standard. With the captain’s chair in the back, long journeys will not feel long anymore, taking comfort to the next level.

Entertainment Specs

The basic trim level comes with an eight-inch infotainment screen having features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Amazon Alexa smartphone integration. The sound is heard through the six-speaker audio system. Onboard Wi-Fi hotspot is also standard. 

On higher trim levels we get a bigger infotainment screen, intercom system, 11-speaker JBL audio system, panoramic sunroof, heated second-row seats, etc.

The integrated intercom system allows us to have fun conversations with family and friends without compromising safety and helps keep drivers’ attention on the road. 

All of the highlander variants can chirp their tires when we floor it while many of the competition aren’t able to; making the highlander more fun to drive. 

Mechanical Specs

All of the trim levels can be equipped with the optional AWD except for the Limited and the Platinum, where it comes standard. The former handling issues of the steering wheel have been dealt with, providing excellent maneuverability and comfort. 

There are two types of engines offered in the 2021 Highlander; a 3.5L V6 for non-hybrids and a 2.5L inline 4 for the hybrid variants. Given as follows:

  • 3.5L V6 making 295hp and 263 lb-ft of torque with an eight-speed automatic transmission. 0 to 60mph in 6.7s.

It manages a reasonable 23 mpg combined with 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.

  • Hybrid 2.5L inline 4 with 2 electric motors, produces 243 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque with a continuously variable automatic transmission CVT. 0 to 60mph in 7.3s

It manages 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg combined.

The newest edition, the XSE comes with stiffer suspension, tighter steering, meatier roll bars, and many other performance-enhancing upgrades that make it sportier and thus more fun to drive. It’s not track-oriented but we can feel the thrill while cruising on the roads.


The all-wheel drive is different among variants; the L, LE, and XLE get the normal AWD system that sends 50 percent of the power into the rear wheels while the limited and the platinum gets a more sophisticated AWD system with torque vectoring that can shuttle that power on the single side when needed to prevent wheel spin.

Top Reasons to Buy the Vehicle

The many reasons to buy the Highlander include: low maintenance cost, great standard safety features, amazing field of vision, good mileage, comfort, and quality.

Highlander’s hybrid mileage is lower than some of the competitor’s mileage, but the price is much lower than the competition, i.e. 10k lower than the Ford Explorer’s hybrid. 

Warranty and maintenance are also a plus, where the hybrid gets a separate 8 years or 100,000-mile coverage.  

The NHTSA gave it 5 stars overall and IIHS gave it top good scores and it earned the Top Safety Pick+ award, as most of the safety features are standard.

We at ALM Roswell feature a large range inventory of certified pre-owned cars for you to choose from. If you are looking to own a used Toyota Highlander then there is no better place than ALM Roswell, the best used car dealership in Roswell Georgia.