2021 Toyota Highlander

MSRP $34,600 - $38,400

Ranked #5 in Suv

8.7

Overall Rating

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2021 Toyota Highlander Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: July 7, 2021

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The three-row SUVs are the perfect companions for a large family and the Toyota Highlander has been one of the favorites for the Americans for the better part of the last two decades ever since it was first introduced. In spite of rising competition in this segment from the fellow Japanese and the new Korean brands, the Highlander is a best-selling SUV of its class and the extensive list of features and great value is what has helped it achieve this feat.

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Pros

Sharp and attractive exterior design 

An exhaustive list of standard features

Plush and silent cabin

Good all-round visibility 

Cons

Useless third-row seat

Average trunk space

Cluttered interior design

What's New?

New sporty-looking XSE trim 


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$34600

bodystyle

4dr SUV

passenger capacity

8

top speed

115 mph

drivetrain

front wheel drive

engine type

displacement

211 cu.in.

horsepower

295 hp @ 6600 rpm

torque

263 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm

transmission

8 speed Automatic

chassis

brake rotors (f/r)

13.3/13.3 in.

dimensions

wheelbase

112.2 in.

length

194.9 in.

width

76 in.

height

68.1 in.

curb weight

4145 lbs.

ground clearance

8 in.

capacity

passenger volume

141.3 cu ft.

cargo volume

84.3 cu ft.

towing capacity

5000 lbs.

payload capacity

1685 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

7.2 sec.

zero to 100 mph

18.2 sec.

standing 1/4-mile

15.3 sec.

warranty

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

5 yr./ 60000 mi.

corrosion warranty

5 yr./ unlimited mi.

roadside assistance

Yes


Pictures & Videos


Trims

L$34,600 onwards

LE$36,800 onwards

Colors and Styles

2021 Toyota Highlander in blizzard pearl color
blizzard pearl

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Ratings

Pricing and Features

8.1

Engine and Performance

7.9

Fuel Economy

7.8

Interior

8.4

Exterior

8.4

Safety

9.4

Competition

9.5

8.7

OVERALL RATING

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide

8.7

Overall Rating


The 2021 model year sees no changes as the SUV recently received a complete overhaul just the previous year and only sees an addition of a new sporty-looking XSE trim. The striking design is what attracts buyers first and the comfortable and well-insulated cabin loaded with plenty of creature comforts make all the difference. The 2021 Highlander starts at an MSRP of $36,260 as it competes against the likes of the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Hyundai Palisade

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV front view
2021 Toyota Highlander SUV rear view

7.9/10
Engine and Performance

7.8/10
Fuel Economy

8.4/10
Interior

8.4/10
Exterior

9.4/10
Safety

9.5/10
Competition


2021 Toyota Highlander Features

The 2021 Highlander is now offered in 6 different trims with two drivetrain options to better suit each and every budget of the buyers. The base L trim comes packed with plenty of features with the LE and XLE trims adding a few more convenience functions. The newly introduced XSE trim gets an aggressive exterior design with black exterior accents and unique 20-inch wheels, along with a sportier calibration for the suspension. The Limited trim gets most of the latest technology and creature comforts while the Platinum trim takes it a notch further. 

Trims

L

LE

XLE

XSE

Limited 

Platinum

MSRP (FWD)

$36,260

$38,460

$41,260

$42,855

$45,215

$48,415

MSRP (AWD)

$37,860

$40,060

$42,860

$44,805

$47,165

$50,365

Key Features

Adaptive Cruise Control

Front Fog/Driving Lights

Universal Remote Transmitter

Black Roof Rails

Automatic Parking Assist

Adaptive Self-Leveling Headlights

 

Lane Departure Warning

Blind Spot Warning

Multi-Level Heating Front Seats

SofTex Cloth / Leatherette Seat Trim

11-speaker 1200W JBL audio system

Reverse Tilt Passenger Mirror When Vehicle In Reverse

 

6-speaker audio system

Leather Steering Wheel

Leatherette Upholstery

20-inch Alloy Wheels

Front And Rear Parking Sensors

Multi-Level Heating Rear Seat

 

3 Months Of Paid Satellite Radio

Pre- & Post-Collision Safety System

Sliding & Tilting Glass Sunroof

 

Heated Steering Wheel

Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers

 

Three Zone Climate Control

LED Taillights

   

Ventilated Front Seats

 
 

8-Way Power Driver Seat

     

Leather Upholstery

 
 

Cloth Upholstery

     

Front, Side, And Rear View Camera

 
 

18-inch Painted Alloy Wheels

     

20-inch Chrome Alloy Wheels

 

Which trim should you buy?

Although the Highlander offers an abundant number of creature comforts and features, the prices rise considerably as well, and hence it is better to opt for the XLE trim with AWD that gets plenty of usable features and practicality while also keeping the prices in check. 

2021 Toyota Highlander Engine and Performance

7.9/10

The 2021 Highlander does not see any changes to the powertrain and continues to be powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine under its hood which produces 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard with the power being sent to the front wheels only. There is an option for an all-wheel-drive setup that improves practicality in slippery and snowy conditions.

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV engine bay

The performance is pretty strong for a midsize SUV as it manages a 0-60 mph sprint in 6.7 seconds and crosses the quarter-mile marker in under 16 seconds. The performance is linear and the engine does not feel strained in most circumstances but one has to work the gears to keep the engine in the meat of its powerband. The 5,000 lbs towing capacity is one of the best of the segment and the Highlander offers a wholesome performance overall. 

Model

Toyota Highlander L

Ford Explorer Base

Honda Pilot LX

Hyundai Palisade SE

MSRP

$36,260

$34,170

$33,725

$33,860

Engine

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated V6

2.3L, Turbocharged Inline-4

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated V6

3.8L, Naturally Aspirated V6

Drivetrain

FWD

RWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

8-speed automatic

10-speed automatic

9-speed automatic

8-speed automatic

Power

295 hp @ 6,600 rpm

300 hp @ 5,500 rpm

280 hp @ 6,000 rpm

291 hp @ 6,000 rpm

Torque

263 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm

310 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm

262 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm

262 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm

0-60 mph (sec)

6.7

5.6

6.2

7.2

Quarter Mile (sec)

15.9

15.1

15.6

16.3

Top Speed (mph)

114

122

113

112

Towing Capacity (lbs)

5,000

5,300

3,500

5,000

In terms of performance, the Ford Explorer with its turbocharged Ecoboost engine is the stand-out performer in the segment. It not only achieves a blisteringly quick 0-60 mph acceleration but also manages to tow upto 5,300 lbs. The Honda Pilot is pretty quick as well but lacks in the towing department, whereas the Hyundai Palisade is the slowest of the pack with the towing prowess on par with the Highlander, which is also the priciest of the lot. 

How does the 2021 Toyota Highlander SUV handle?

The Toyota Highlander was designed with family usage in mind that includes daily driving to the schools and office with weekend getaways for the family with a trunk full of luggage. And although the Highlander is no Mazda in terms of driving dynamics, the SUV surprisingly feels planted and stable when switched to Sport mode that tightens up the throttle response, and the chassis remains flatter and more agile.

That is with the standard model, the sportier XSE trim with stiffened suspension setup should do even better in the high-speed corners. The car feels comfortable at both low and highway speeds and takes on broken pieces of roads rather well. The AWD system offers enough grip to take on the dirt and slippery wet roads comfortably but the limited ground clearance means one can only venture off the road only to a certain extent in the Highlander. 

2021 Toyota Highlander Braking Performance

The lightweight construction of the Highlander and the modern-day safety systems assures a good and confident feel behind the wheel in a panic braking scenario. The 13.3-inch front and rear disc brake rotors do a great job of stopping the car at a braking distance of 116 feet in the 60-0 mph braking test. 

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV brake rotor

Model

Toyota Highlander

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Hyundai Palisade

Brake Rotors - Front (in)

13.3

13.6

12.6

13.4

Brake Rotors - Rear (in)

13.3

12.6

13.0

12.0

Curb Weight (lbs)

4,145

4,345

3,982

4,127

60-0 mph (ft)

116

121

129

126

The Ford Explorer weighs a bit more and employs a larger set of front and a smaller set of rear brakes and hence travels farther than the Highlander. The Hyundai Palisade takes over 10 feet more than the Highlander to stop while the Honda Pilot which weighs the least has the longest stopping distance here.

2021 Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy

7.8/10

Toyota is known for building dependable and frugal vehicles and in spite of its large dimensions, the Highlander manages an overall fuel efficiency of 24 mpg as rated by the EPA. Opting for the AWD reduces the fuel economy by 1 mpg in each aspect but the sizable 17.9-gallon fuel tank does a decent job of offering around 400 miles of driving range on a single tank of gas. 

Model

Toyota Highlander

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Hyundai Palisade

MPG (City)

21

21

20

19

MPG (Highway)

29

28

27

26

MPG (Combined)

24

24

23

22

Fuel Tank Capacity (gal)

17.9

17.9

19.5

18.8

Range (City / Highway / Combined) (miles)

376 / 519 / 430

376 / 501 / 430

390 / 527 / 449

357 / 489 / 414

The turbocharged engine under the hood of the Explorer returns pretty fuel economy ratings as that of the Highlander and also has an identical gas tank capacity. The Honda Pilot on the other hand is marginally less frugal but employs a much larger gas tank which translates to a class-leading driving range. The Hyundai Palisade has the highest fuel consumption and in spite of the larger fuel tank, struggles to offer a decent driving range. 

2021 Toyota Highlander Interior

8.4/10

The cabin of the Highlander isn’t as striking or appealing as its exterior and instead offers a simple and logical layout of controls that are well within the reach of the driver but sometimes feel cluttered. The materials aren’t as premium as many of its rivals but feel robust and utilitarian with no compromise being made in terms of fit and finish quality. 

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV front seats

In terms of space, the front and second-row have ample amount of space wherein 5 adults can be seated comfortably even on longer journeys. That being said, managing to fit 8 occupants and not making any compromise in the first two rows means the third row is best only suited for young kids. The 16 cu-ft of trunk space can be extended to 48.4 cu-ft with the third row folded while folding down the second row opens up 84.3 cu-ft of space.

Model

Toyota Highlander

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Hyundai Palisade

Seating Capacity

8

7

8

8

Front Row (Head / Shoulder / Leg) (in)

41.2 / 59.0 / 42.0

40.7 / 61.8 / 43.0

40.1 / 62.0 / 40.9

40.7 / 61.2 / 44.1

Second Row (Head / Shoulder / Leg) (in)

39.4 / 58.7 / 41.0

40.5 / 61.9 / 39.0

40.2 / 62.0 / 38.4

40.1 / 60.8 / 42.4

Third Row (Head / Shoulder / Leg) (in)

36.1 / 55.0 / 27.7

38.9 / 54.6 / 32.2

38.9 / 57.6 / 31.9

37.8 / 55.2 / 31.4

Trunk Capacity (cu-ft)

16.0

18.2

16.5

18.0

The Ford Explorer and the Hyundai Palisade have the most spacious front row of seats and also offer a much larger trunk at the rear. The Palisade is in fact the most spacious amongst all the SUVs present here. The Honda Pilot offers a more balanced layout with plenty of space in all three rows while the Explorer has the most spacious third row but compromises a bit in the second-row legroom. 

  • 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat including power lumbar support and 4-way power-adjustable front passenger seat
  • Heated/Ventilated Front Bucket Seats w/seat memory function
  • Bucket Folding Captain Heated Manual Reclining Fold Forward Rear Seat w/Manual Fore/Aft
  • Fixed 60-40 Split-Bench 3rd Row Seat w/Manual Recline and Manual Fold Into Floor
  • Leather Upholstered Dashboard and Seat Trim w/Leatherette Door Trim Insert
  • Tilt/Telescoping Heated Leather/Piano Black Steering Wheel
  • Three-Zone Automatic Air Conditioning w/Separate rear seat controls
  • Digital Rearview Mirror w/HomeLink
  • Head-Up Display

What’s there to keep you entertained?

Toyota offers all sorts of amenities and technology that one would expect from a modern-day family SUV. The base model gets an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system which also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard along with Amazon Alexa, Wi-Fi hotspot, and SiriusXM satellite radio. 

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV infotainment screen

The higher trims feature a larger 12.3-inch head unit which also gets the dynamic navigation system as standard. The standard audio system lacks depth and feels brash but the premium JBL audio system available on the higher trims is flawless and enhances the drive during both, the family on weekend trips and the daily boring office drives.

  • The 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa integration
  • 11-speaker 1200-Watt JBL Clari-Fi Premium audio system w/subwoofer
  • HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month All Access trial
  • Wi-Fi Connect mobile hotspot w/up to 2GB within 3-month trial
  • Dynamic Navigation w/up to 3-year trial and Destination Assist w/1-year trial
  • Dynamic voice recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth
  • Safety Connect & Remote Connect w/1-year trial and Service Connect w/10-year trial

2021 Toyota Highlander Exterior

8.4/10

The exterior of the Toyota Highlander is nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd of midsize SUVs with the same old large and aggressive grille and chunky bumper with chrome embellishments. No doubt the 2021 Highlander looks striking and appealing but there is very little that would distinguish it radically from its peers and siblings. 

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV 

The overall design is pretty sleek and has a pretty low drag coefficient which aids it in the fuel efficiency department. The standard 18-inch wheels are first for the segment and look really good while the optional 20-inch wheels have their own appeal, makes the ride a bit harsher but doesn’t make it uncomfortable by any means. 

Model

Toyota Highlander

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Hyundai Palisade

Curb Weight (lbs)

4,145

4,345

3,982

4,127

Length (in)

194.9

198.8

196.5

196.1

Width (in)

76.0

78.9

78.6

77.8

Height (in)

68.1

70.2

70.6

68.9

Ground Clearance (in)

8.0

8.2

7.3

7.9

Wheelbase (in)

112.2

119.1

111.0

114.2

The Ford Explorer is longer, wider, and taller than most of its competitors and hence has a more spacious cabin to offer. The Honda Pilot and the Hyundai Palisade on the other hand are pretty identical in terms of exterior dimensions but the Pilot rides much lower to the ground which limits off-road abilities. The Explorer has the highest ground clearance but the difference between the ride heights of the Highlander, Palisade, and Explorer is minuscule. 

  • Automatic Projector Beam Auto-Leveling Directionally Adaptive Auto High-Beam Daytime Running Lights Preference Setting Headlamps\
  • High Grade LED Projector Headlights
  • LED Brakelights
  • Power Liftgate w/Lip Spoiler
  • Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers w/Heated Wiper Park
  • Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Tilt Down Function and Turn Signal Indicator
  • Panoramic Moonroof
  • 20-inch Painted Alloy Wheels

2021 Toyota Highlander Safety

9.4/10

Toyota is known for providing a safe haven for its buyers and their families and the 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and the “Top Safety Pick+” accolade from the IIHS is a clear testament to that. A number of safety functions and features are available as standard right from the base trim while the higher trims add even more driver aids to make it a complete package. A highlight of the most prominent safety features available with the 2021 Highlander is listed below. 

  • Pre-Collision System
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warning
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Front and Rear Parking Assist w/Automatic Braking
  • Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning

2021 Toyota Highlander Competition

9.5/10

2021 Toyota Highlander vs Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer not only costs much less than the Toyota, but it also offers a blistering performance without any compromise in the efficiency and towing departments. The cabin is very spacious and feels a bit more premium than the Highlander. The base Explorer isn’t as loaded as the Highlander but overall feels a lot more valuable than the Explorer. Therefore, we would recommend Explorer for its spacious and premium cabin and potent powertrain. 

Ford Explorer

2021 Toyota Highlander vs Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is also one of the more popular products of the segment and similar to Toyota’s Highlander, is also a large volume seller for its manufacturer. That being said, the 2021 Highlander has a higher towing capacity and fuel economy while the braking performance is better than Toyota. The Pilot may have a more usable third row of seats but it compromises space for the front two rows to make it happen. Therefore, it is better to opt for the feature-loaded Highlander over the Pilot on any given day.

Honda Pilot

2021 Toyota Highlander vs Hyundai Palisade

The Hyundai Palisade is a striking-looking SUV that makes sure to stand out from the crowd with people turning around to have a second look at it. It is one of the most affordable products in the segment and also offers plenty of features. Although the towing capability is on par with the segment, the acceleration and braking performance is sedate while the fuel economy is below par as well. The cabin is very spacious and feels premium with no compromise made for either the passenger or luggage space. Therefore it is a tie for us and we feel it depends on what you want from your family SUV, Toyota provides frugal comfort while Hyundai offers premium and spacious appeal to its cabin.

Hyundai Palisade

 

2021 Toyota Highlander Final Verdict

There is a reason why the Toyota Highlander is one of the best sellers for Toyota in the market. The 2021 update has made it an even more exciting prospect with many of the goodies baked right into the base trim onwards. The performance is pretty decent while the fuel efficiency is pretty high. The cabin lacks premium appeal but feels solid and built to last. Thus, if you are on the lookout for a three-row family SUV, the 2021 Toyota Highlander is one of the best you can buy at this price point. 

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