Is the 2023 Toyota Highlander a Good Used Car?


Although the Highlander provides many innovative features, it falls to middle-of-the-pack when compared to its more than two dozen rivals in the SUV market. With eleven trims available, potential buyers have plenty of options to choose from. Both hybrid and nonhybrid powertrains are accessible, as well as front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive--which is optional. In addition, every trim delivers great handling and a smooth ride; however, the Highlander's driving quality could use some improvement. The interior contains modern amenities and comforts that even come standard on the base L model; along with an infotainment system that is user friendly and driver assistance features included.

Although the Limited and Platinum models have leather upholstery, a JBL premium stereo system,  and additional tech features which creates an image of Lexus, it does not measure up to its competitors. The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade offer more luxury and space in the third row, while the interior of Mazda CX-9 is nicer with better driving dynamics. Not to mention, Jeep Grand Cherokee L beat Highlander in off-road capability. Therefore, when compared side by side, Highlander lack luster performance makes it less appealing.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The Highlander comes standard with a 265-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that eight-speed automatic transmission and either front or all wheel drive, which we have not driven yet but will be able to comment on its performance soon. The Highlander Hybrid model has a combined 243 horsepower coming from 2.5 - liter four cylinder engine and two electric motors that team up together, it also includes a continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVT) with the choice of frontsight or all wheel drive..

The new Toyota hybrid powertrain provides drivers with something much more fuel efficient than the standard model without sacrificing much in terms of performance; at our test track, the last hybrid model we tested made it to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Handling is stable but unexciting, and the ride is perfectly suitable for family-chauffeur duty. Potential buyers in this segment will know that the Ford Explorer also comes in a hybrid form; however, when pitted against each other, the Toyota comes out on top regarding fuel economy.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

So far, Toyota has only mentioned that the new turbocharged engine yields 24 mpg combined. We are in the dark about its city and highway ratings. Models with a hybrid drivetrain will more than likely have higher ratings than those without it--a front-wheel-drive Highlander should get 36 mpg in stop-and-go conditions and 35 out on the open road. When we have one at our disposal, we'll put its fuel efficiency to use on our standard 75mph highway fuel economy test route before updating this piece with results. For additional Highlander fuel economy intel in the meantime, check out the EPA's website

Toyota Highlander

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The Base L and midrange LE models come standard with bench seats in the second and third rows, which can seat a total of eight passengers. However, higher trims offer an optional seven-seat layout that replaces the benches with captain's chairs in the second row. The passenger area is more generous than what you'll find in the CX-9 but not as spacious as the Chevrolet Traverse—particularly when it comes to legroom in the third row, which tends to be tight for adults.

The materials in the cabin are higher quality than the Highlander's last-generation. Upscale Limited and Platinum models provide more creature comforts, but they don't come close to what Palisade or Telluride offer. The cargo area behind the third row only fit four carry-on suitcases; Traverse can hold six.