Hard to love, impossible to hate
There are some vehicles on the market that might be lacking in refinement, practicality and eco-friendliness, but their alluring shape and extroverted character make them hard to resist. On the other hand, it’s exactly the opposite for certain other vehicles. Case in point: the Toyota Highlander.
It’s spacious, fuel-efficient, ergonomically sound, not too flabby, quick and handles itself pretty well. But it just doesn’t have any flavour to it. Writing a review on the Highlander is like remembering things that happened when you were six years old.
Here’s what isn’t too hard to remember: in the crowd of mid-size 7-passenger SUVs, the Highlander lacks styling character; it isn’t elegant, there's nothing rugged about it and it doesn’t look mean. It reminds me of an unbranded vehicle you see in insurance-claim or bank-loan advertisements. It’s not ugly; it’s just, um, plain.
The Highlander performs
Here’s a vehicle that’s faster and handles better than the styling suggests. Thanks to a 24-valve, 3.5-litre V6, you benefit from 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. However, it’s managed by a 5-speed automatic, while the base 4-cylinder version of the SUV gets a 6-speed.
Still, reaching 100 km/h from a standstill takes 7.3 seconds, while the quarter-mile blows by in 15.3 seconds at 147 km/h. As for braking performance, the Highlander stops from 100 clicks in a car-like 44 metres. So, dynamically, there’s little to fault, and curiously, Toyota’s trucks feel sportier than their cars.
It’s also pretty quiet, too; on the highway at 100 km/h, the tach is showing 1,800 rpm. Even at wide-open throttle, the V6’s soundtrack is in no way intrusive. And the Highlander is easy to park, thanks to good outward visibility in all directions and its decent turning radius.
To top things off, Toyota’s 3.5-litre V6 provides good economy, no matter what vehicle it’s bolted into. In this case, we’re averaging 11.9 L/100km over the course of the week.
Other Reviews Available For The 2011 Toyota Highlander
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