2012 Toyota Highlander

MSRP $28,240 - $37,195

Ranked #12 in Suv

7.4

Overall Rating

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2012 Toyota Highlander Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: August 3, 2021

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The Toyota Highlander is one such crossover that offers the best traits of both the SUVs and smaller cars. It has a higher stance and practicality of 7 seats of an SUV, while the agile performance and handling remind you of the smaller cars. Although the cabin space is a bit tighter than some of its rivals. The available engine options, logically designed easy-to-use cabin, and the innovative second-row seat design makes it stand out from other crossovers.

2012 Toyota Highlander Latest Updates

  • Oct' 16, 2021 : Updated 2022 Toyota Highlander Launched With A New Hybrid-Only Bronze Edition Read More »
See detailed review »

Pros

Potent and frugal V6 engine

Available four-cylinder engine option

Intuitive cabin design 

Comfortable rear seat

Easy to maneuver

Cons

Cramped third-row seat

Limited cargo space

What's New?

No changes for the 2012 model year


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$28240

bodystyle

4dr SUV

passenger capacity

7

top speed

115 mph

drivetrain

front wheel drive

engine type

displacement

163 cu.in.

horsepower

187 hp @ 5800 rpm

torque

186 lb.-ft. @ 4100 rpm

transmission

6 speed automatic w/OD and auto manual

chassis

suspension front

Independent front strut suspension w/anti-roll bar

suspension rear

Independent rear strut suspension w/anti-roll bar

dimensions

wheelbase

109.8 in.

length

188.4 in.

width

75.2 in.

height

68.1 in.

curb weight

3946 lbs.

ground clearance

8 in.

capacity

passenger volume

145.7 cu ft.

cargo volume

95.4 cu ft.

towing capacity

1500 lbs.

payload capacity

1554 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

9.6 sec.

standing 1/4-mile

17 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

20/22/25 mpg

highway range

480 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

5 yr./ 60000 mi.

powertrain warranty

5 yr./ 60,000 mi.

corrosion warranty

5 yr./ unlimited mi.

roadside assistance

Yes


Pictures & Videos


Trims

Base$28,240 onwards

SE$32,845 onwards

Limited$35,745 onwards

Colors and Styles

2012 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 Feature

8.0

Features

8.5

Engine and Performance

6.0

Fuel Economy

7.0

Interior

6.0

Exterior

6.0

Safety

9.0

Competition

6.0

7.4

OVERALL RATING

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide

7.4

Overall Rating


Apart from the space concerns, there aren’t many flaws to be pointed out and hence Toyota has decided to carry forward the Highlander as it is for the 2012 model year. With the availability of a four-cylinder engine under the hood, the prices begin as low as $29,085 while the V6 powered Highlander starts at an MSRP of $30,240 which is mostly on par with the rivals that include, Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9


8.5/10
Features

6.0/10
Engine and Performance

7.0/10
Fuel Economy

6.0/10
Interior

6.0/10
Exterior

9.0/10
Safety


2012 Toyota Highlander Features

8.5/10

The 2012 Toyota Highlander is offered in only three trims but has two engine and drivetrain options. The base and SE trims are available with both the inline-4 and V6 engines while the Limited trim is powered only by the V6 mill. The four-cylinder engine is only available with an FWD layout while the V6 features both FWD and AWD drivetrains. In terms of features, most of the creature comforts are available from SE trim onwards and the Limited trim features all the premium features which hike up the prices quite a bit. 

Trims

Base

SE

Limited

MSRP (FWD) I4

$29,085

$33,690

-

MSRP (FWD) V6

$30,240

$34,845

$36,590

MSRP (4WD)

$31,690

$36,295

$38,040

Key Features

Post-Collision Safety System

Front Fog/Driving Lights

Simulated Wood Interior Trim

 

6-speaker audio system

3 Months Of Satellite Radio Service

19-inch Alloy Wheels

 

Tilt And Telescopic Steering Wheel

Leather And Simulated Alloy Steering Wheel

Leather And Simulated Wood Steering Wheel

 

Dual Zone AC with Rear Ventilation Ducts & Fan Control

Universal Remote Transmitter

Three Zone Climate Control

 

Power Heated Mirrors

Rear View Camera

4 -Way Power Passenger Seat

 

Cloth Upholstery

Leather Upholstery

Premium Leather Upholstery

 

Reclining Rear Seats

8-Way Power Driver Seat

10-Way Power Driver Seat

 

17-inch Alloy Wheels

Heated Front Seats

 

We Recommend

Although the base trim has plenty to offer, it is recommended to opt for the SE trim with the V6 powertrain and AWD drivetrain for maximum practicality. It also features plenty of creature comforts and convenience features that make it feel worth the high asking price. 

2012 Toyota Highlander Engine and Performance

6.0/10

The 2012 Highlander is available with two engine options, the base 2.7-liter inline-4 unit is rated to produce a healthy 187 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque while the more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine generates a much higher 270 hp and 248 lb-ft. While the base engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic, the V6 is paired up with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Both power the front wheels as standard with the V6 engine also available with a 4WD setup.

The base engine lacks the punch and feels strained when lugging around the large crossover and hence takes just under 10 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill. The V6 on the other hand feels mighty, managing a 0-60 mph timing of 7 seconds flat. The easy maneuverability and agile handling add to the fun element, and although the steering is light and easy to use, it lacks feedback and hence feels uninspiring to drive. 

Model

Toyota Highlander V6 Base

Ford Explorer Base

Honda Pilot LX

Mazda CX-9 Sport

MSRP

$30,240

$29,105

$29,450

$30,520

Engine

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated V6

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated V6

3.5L, Naturally Aspirated V6

3.7L, Naturally Aspirated V6

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

5-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

5-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

Power

270 hp @ 6,200 rpm

290 hp @ 6,500 rpm

250 hp @ 5,700 rpm

273 hp @ 6,250 rpm

Torque

248 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm

255 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm

253 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

270 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm

0-60 mph (sec)

7.0

7.4

8.2

7.3

Quarter Mile (sec)

15.4

15.8

16.2

15.6

Top Speed (mph)

115

122

117

119

Towing Capacity (lbs)

5,000

5,000

2,000

3,500

The Ford Explorer is more affordable than the Highlander and also has a higher power output to offer, and yet it is slower off the line. The Honda Pilot costs less but it lacks power and is the slowest in the straight acceleration tests. The similarly priced Mazda CX-9 has a higher torque output but still struggles to match up to the performance offered by the V6 engine from Toyota.

2012 Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy

7.0/10

The larger and powerful V6 engine is rated for a pretty solid 20 mpg of combined city and highway driving by the EPA and although the four-cylinder unit improves this by about 2 mpg in each aspect, it doesn’t feel worth compromise in terms of performance. Opting for the 4WD reduces the efficiency by 1 mpg but the large 19.2-gallon fuel tank takes care of the situation, offering about 350 miles of range even with the higher fuel consumption. 

Model

Toyota Highlander V6

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Mazda CX-9 

MPG (City)

18

18

18

17

MPG (Highway)

24

25

25

24

MPG (Combined)

20

20

21

19

Fuel Tank Capacity (gal)

19.2

18.6

21.0

20.1

Range (City / Highway / Combined) (miles)

346 / 461 / 384

335 / 465 / 372

378 / 525 / 442

342 / 482 / 382

In comparison, the Ford Explorer also returns very identical fuel economy figures as that of the Highlander but a smaller gas tank reduces its range marginally. The Honda Pilot is the most frugal of the lot and also employs a much larger gas tank which translates to class-leading driving ranges. The Mazda CX-9 on the other hand has the highest fuel consumption but together with a larger fuel tank capacity, the driving range is on par with the Highlander’s V6. 

2012 Toyota Highlander Interior

6.0/10

The 2012 Highlander offers one of the better-looking cabins in the segment, especially with the wood grain trim and chrome inserts offered with the top-end Limited trim. The controls are easy to reach and the visibility is pretty good as well on all corners. The materials quality is impressive while there is no compromise in terms of build quality and fit and finish of the product from Toyota. 

At the front, there is tons of space for even the tallest drivers to find their perfect seating position. The sliding and reclining rear seat is pretty comfortable as well and offers plenty of space to accommodate people of all sizes. The third row is not very useful though and is best to be folded down to increase the luggage space from a meager 10.3 cu-ft to 42.3 cu-ft. Folding down the second row opens up a maximum of 95.4 cu-ft of space to cater to all your cargo needs. 

Model

Toyota Highlander V6

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Mazda CX-9 

Seating Capacity

7

7

8

7

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

40.6 / 59.7 / 43.2

41.4 / 61.3 / 40.6

40.0 / 61.5 / 41.4

39.6 / 59.4 / 40.9

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

40.1 / 59.5 / 38.3

40.5 / 61.0 / 39.8

39.8 / 62.2 / 38.5

39.0 / 58.7 / 39.8

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

36.3 / 55.0 / 29.9

37.8 / 50.8 / 33.2

38.2 / 58.9 / 32.1

35.4 / 56.9 / 32.4

Cargo Capacity (cu-ft)

10.3

21.0

18.0

17.2

There is no match to the legroom on offer at the front inside the cabin of the 2012 Highlander, but it is the Ford Explorer that excels in all other aspects. It has an impressive amount of headroom and legroom for both the second and third-row and yet opens up the best luggage space in this comparison. Both the Japanese Honda and Mazda have similar cabin and trunk space to offer which is much more than what Highlander can. 

  • 10-way power driver seat with pwr lumbar & adjustable thigh support and 4-way power front passenger seat
  • Perforated leather-trimmed heated front seats
  • Leather-trimmed 40/20/40 fold-flat slide & recline second-row seat
  • Leatherette third-row seat with fold-flat into floor capability and folding headrests
  • Leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic adjustable steering wheel
  • Automatic 3-zone climate control with rear climate controls & third row AC vents
  • Woodgrain-style interior trim with chrome door handles
  • HomeLink universal garage door opener

How intuitive is the 2012 Toyota Highlander SUV’s infotainment unit?

The simple and elegant design of the dashboard makes it easy to use while on the move and comes loaded with plenty of features even lower down the trim ladder. The 6-speaker audio system is standard and it isn’t the best one you could get at this budget while iPod, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity is standard as expected. Higher trims also offer satellite radio with a 3-month subscription but there is no HD radio on offer.

  • 6-speaker audio system with auto sound leveling
  • SiriusXM satellite radio with a 90-day trial subscription
  • iPod connectivity
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone system and audio streaming
  • AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3/WMA player
  • USB input

2012 Toyota Highlander Exterior

6.0/10

The 2012 Toyota Highlander used to be a boxy and frugal-looking SUV similar to what Subaru offers today. But in the context of looking more like an SUV, the modern-day Highlander lands in between somewhere. The silhouette isn’t even close to an SUV or a crossover and looks more like a station wagon. Although that isn’t the worst thing, we aren’t particularly a fan of this design. 

Model

Toyota Highlander V6

Ford Explorer

Honda Pilot

Mazda CX-9 

Curb Weight (lbs)

4,045

4,557

4,299

4,328

Length (in)

188.4

197.1

191.4

200.2

Width (in)

75.2

78.9

78.5

76.2

Height (in)

68.1

70.4

71.0

68.0

Ground Clearance (in)

8.1

7.6

8.0

8.0

Wheelbase (in)

109.8

112.6

109.2

113.2

The Highlander is much more compact as compared to its competitors and hence lacks that additional space in the back. This on the contrary reduces its weight considerably which aids it in offering superior performance. The Honda Pilot is only marginally larger while the abundant space on offer inside the Ford Explorer is due to the large dimensions of the vehicle. That being said, it has the lowest ride height here but the difference isn’t too large. 

  • Projector-beam halogen headlamps with auto on/off feature and Integrated fog lamps
  • Heated power mirrors with puddle lamps
  • Power liftgate with jam protection and rear spoiler with integrated lamp
  • Chrome door handles and roof rails
  • The dark silver-painted grille and lower grille with chrome accent
  • Black lower rockers with chrome accent
  • Power tilt/sliding moonroof with sunshade
  • 19-inch 5-spoke aluminum alloy wheels with dark silver accents

2012 Toyota Highlander Safety

9.0/10

There can be never a doubt regarding the safety of a Toyota and the 4-star overall rating from the NHTSA and the “Top Safety Pick” accolade from the IIHS in the safety tests conducted by them for the 2012 model year justifies it. There are plenty of active and passive safety features available with the 2012 Highlander and most of them are offered as standard across the trims. A highlight of the most prominent safety features available with the Highlander has been listed below. 

  • Smart Stop Technology (SST)
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC)
  • Front & rear energy-absorbing crumple zones
  • Driver & front passenger advanced airbag system with occupant classification sensor
  • Driver & front passenger front seat-mounted side and Driver’s knee airbags
  • 3-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags
  • Backup camera
  • Direct tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)

2012 Toyota Highlander Final Verdict

The Toyota Highlander is one of the most potent and yet one of the most frugal crossovers in the midsize SUV segment. It may not have the spacious third row or large cargo compartment on offer, but the premium cabin design with superior materials quality and comfortable seating for the front two rows make it a great overall choice for large families. 

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