The 2010 Toyota Highlander's gutsy powertrain, versatile interior, and carlike maneuverability make it an ideal choice as a do-all family vehicle.
The Toyota Highlander is available with a choice of two engines. By far the more popular (and better) powertrain is the 3.5-liter V6 that's rated at 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic and front-wheel drive are standard. Properly equipped, V6-powered versions can also tow up to 5,000 pounds, another healthy number for this category. With front-wheel drive, the Highlander V6 returns EPA estimates of 18 city/24 HWY/20 combined.
If you're used to the lumbering trucklike feel of traditional SUVs, the 2010 Toyota Highlander will feel like a pleasure to drive. The fully independent suspension delivers decent handling, at least by family-hauler standards, and the ride quality is surprisingly smooth even with the slightly firmer suspension on Sport models. The steering feels light enough for easy parking lot maneuverability while retaining enough precision to inspire confidence in everyday driving. The 3.5-liter V6 adds to the appeal by providing strong acceleration that makes this 4,000-pound crossover seem smaller than it is. The fact that this powertrain is also among the most fuel-efficient in the category is an added bonus.
The 2010 Toyota Highlander features an attractive cabin, especially on top-of-the-line Limited models. Visibility is excellent and the straightforward layout of gauges and controls makes for refreshingly intuitive operation.
The Highlander SE gets 17-inch wheels and the regular suspension but has a standard sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, leather seating and a power passenger seat. The cabin also gets an upgraded driver seat, a power front passenger seat, keyless ignition/entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a compass and a satellite-radio-ready audio system with a six-disc CD changer.
The Highlander comes with a long list of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes, stability control and hill-start assist that helps keep the vehicle from rolling backward when motoring away from a stop on an incline. The Highlander's cabin is fitted with a total of seven airbags, including side-impact airbags for front seat passengers, side curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seats and a driver-side knee airbag. Whiplash-reducing active front head restraints are also standard.