We drive the 2017 Toyota Highlander SE

2017 Toyota Highlander SE
2017 Toyota Highlander SE

The Toyota Highlander is all grown up. It now has more room, more power and better fuel economy. The Highlander used to be a boring SUV that you would buy if you wanted a reliable SUV. Now Toyota has transformed the Highlander into a well-rounded SUV that is actually enjoyable.

The highlander is offered in many different versions starting out with the basic LE. The LE comes with a lot of nice features such as dual zone air conditioning, backup camera, 4.2 inch LCD display, seating for eight adults, cloth seats, cruise control, keyless entry, and more.

The LE Plus adds three zone AC, better seat material, leather steering wheel and some fancier trim inside.

The XLE is the next step up with navigation, Bluetooth, leather seats, heated front seats, push button start, rear sun shades and more.

The SE is what we tested and it has better trim, fancier seats and some LED ambient lighting. The XLE and SE also come with premium audio with navigation and six speakers.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]There is a Limited model above the SE that adds a better rear view camera, perforated leather seats with heated and vented front seats, and power windows with auto up and down.

The top of the line Limited Platinum adds bird’s eye view camera, heated steering wheel and heated second row seats. The Limited and Limited Platinum models come with a JBL audio system with 12 speakers.

There are two engine choices plus a hybrid option on the Highlander. Our SE model had the V6 engine which is a new engine for this year. The new 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle V6 pushes output to 295 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. of torque, which represent increases of 25 hp and 15 lb.-ft., respectively, over the 2016 Highlander V6. Making best use of the engine’s upgraded performance and efficiency, the V6 Highlander now employs a new 8-speed automatic transmission.

The eight ratios, compared to six in the 2016 V6 model, help improve performance and fuel economy. Fuel economy for all-wheel drive models improves to an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway, versus 18/24 for the 2016 model.

Highlander V6 models (excluding LE) get another new feature: Stop and Start Engine System. This new system allows the engine to shut off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop, and then restarts when the driver’s foot lifts from the brake pedal.

Better looking from any angle
Better looking from any angle

S&S is designed to reduce emissions, help reduce fuel consumption, and provide a quieter in-cabin experience for passengers when the vehicle is at a complete stop. Compared to other manufacturer’s systems, we found that the Highlander was reluctant to shut off very much.

The V6 engine is very strong and it moves the 4500 pound Highlander with ease. The engine is smooth and quiet and the only complaint is that the transmission tends to favor fuel economy when it comes to gear selection. You can shift it manually but it doesn’t always listen to you but just pretends to listen by showing whatever gear number you asked for on the dash without actually selecting that gear.

Not a huge deal for most Highlander buyers who just want a smooth machine and the engine and transmission are certainly buttery smooth.

All Highlander V6 models come standard with a towing package that allows for a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. The package includes a heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler, 200-watt fan coupling, supplemental transmission oil cooler and 150-amp alternator.

Speaking of smoothness, wait until you get the Highlander going on a long stretch of road. The old Highlander was not the quietest vehicle but the new car is amazing. The roster of sound-control features includes three hydraulic engine mounts, acoustic-type windshield glass along with a dash silencer and extensive body sealing.

One of our passengers remarked that it is unbelievable how smooth and quiet the new Highlander is. Lexus does not currently have a version of the Highlander but if they did, it would probably be amazingly quiet.

Our SE model also features a dark paint treatment on the grill, headlamp housings, and other trim. It has unique 19 inch wheels and specially tuned suspension with firmer damping. The difference is noticeable as the Highlander feels tight and responsive while being smooth and quiet.

Front seats and dash
Front seats and dash

The second row on our SE model was captain’s chairs which were super comfortable for the longest trips. We felt so jealous of those seats because they were definitely the best seats in the house. Our vehicle also had a rear seat entertainment system. All we needed was a popcorn machine and the second row would be heaven.

The third row is as you would expect in a vehicle of this size. Adults would fit there for short trips but they would start complaining if you don’t let them out soon.

Fold the third row down and you have a huge cargo area. Fold everything and you have 83 cubic feet of space.

Toyota is trying to cater the Highlander to many different people. Because of that the Highlander pricing starts out at $30,630 for the LE 2WD 4 cylinder. Our SE AWD V6 model starts out at $41,150 and the top of the line Limited Platinum AWD V6 will cost you $46,260. Hybrid models will cost a little more.

For that price, you get a roomy, comfortable and very quiet machine that can seat up to eight people. You also get Toyota’s legendary reliability and resale value.

Thanks to Toyota’s trim level system, you can also select exactly what you need. If you think, the features of the LE are satisfactory for your needs, Toyota gives you the option to save yourself some money. With five trim levels, one of them is perfect for you.



Gas Mileage 20 mpg City/26 mpg Hwy

Engine Regular Unleaded V-6, 3.5 L

EPA Class Small Sport Utility Vehicles 4WD

Style Name SE V6 AWD (Natl)

Drivetrain All Wheel Drive

Passenger Capacity 7

Passenger Doors 4

Body Style Sport Utility

Transmission Transmission: Electronic 8-Speed Automatic (ECT-i) -inc: sequential shift mode w/dynamic rev management, snow mode and uphill/downhill shift logic


EPA Classification Small Sport Utility Vehicles 4WD

Weight Information
Base Curb Weight (lbs) 4590

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity 7

Front Hip Room (in) 57.2

Third Head Room (in) 35.9

Front Leg Room (in) 44.2

Second Shoulder Room (in) 59.6

Third Hip Room (in) 45.6

Passenger Volume (ft³) 142.2

Second Head Room (in) 39.6

Third Leg Room (in) 27.7

Front Shoulder Room (in) 59.3

Second Hip Room (in) 57.1

Front Head Room (in) 39.5

Second Leg Room (in) 38.4

Third Shoulder Room (in) 55

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase (in) 109.8

Track Width, Rear (in) 64.2

Height, Overall (in) 68.1

Length, Overall (in) 192.5

Min Ground Clearance (in) 8

Track Width, Front (in) 64.4

Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 75.8

Cargo Area Dimensions
Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (ft³) 83.2

Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (ft³) 42.3

Cargo Volume to Seat 3 (ft³) 13.8

Fuel Economy

Fuel Tank
Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx (gal) 19.2

Fuel Economy Est-Combined (MPG) 22

EPA Fuel Economy Est – City (MPG) 20

EPA Fuel Economy Est – Hwy (MPG) 26

Performance Specs

Engine Order Code NA

SAE Net Torque @ RPM 263 @ 4700

Fuel System Gasoline Direct Injection

Engine Type Regular Unleaded V-6

SAE Net Horsepower @ RPM 295 @ 6600

Displacement 3.5 L/211

Drivetrain All Wheel Drive

First Gear Ratio (:1) 5.52

Sixth Gear Ratio (:1) 1.00

Trans Description Cont. Automatic w/OD

Fourth Gear Ratio (:1) 1.49

Seventh Gear Ratio (:1) 0.80

Trans Order Code NA

Second Gear Ratio (:1) 3.18

Reverse Ratio (:1) 4.22

Trans Description Cont. Again NA

Fifth Gear Ratio (:1) 1.23

Eighth Gear Ratio (:1) 0.67

Trans Type 8

Third Gear Ratio (:1) 2.05

Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1) 3.00

Brake ABS System 4-Wheel

Drum – Rear (Yes or ) NA

Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in) 12.9

Disc – Front (Yes or ) Yes

Rear Drum Diam x Width (in) NA

Rear Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in) 12.2

Disc – Rear (Yes or ) Yes

Steering Type Rack-Pinion

Turning Diameter – Curb to Curb (ft) 38.7

Front Tire Order Code NA

Spare Tire Size Compact

Front Tire Size P245/55SR19

Rear Tire Order Code NA

Rear Tire Size P245/55SR19

Spare Tire Order Code NA

Front Wheel Size (in) 19 X 7.5

Spare Wheel Material Steel

Front Wheel Material Aluminum

Rear Wheel Size (in) 19 X 7.5

Rear Wheel Material Aluminum

Spare Wheel Size (in) Compact

Suspension Type – Front Strut

Suspension Type – Rear (Cont.) Double Wishbone

Suspension Type – Rear Double Wishbone

Suspension Type – Front (Cont.) Strut

Safety Features

Air Bag-Frontal-Driver Yes

Air Bag-Frontal-Passenger Yes

Air Bag-Passenger Switch (On/Off) No

Air Bag-Side Body-Front Yes

Air Bag-Side Body-Rear No

Air Bag-Side Head-Front Yes

Air Bag-Side Head-Rear Yes

Brakes-ABS Yes

Child Safety Rear Door Locks Yes

Daytime Running Lights Yes

Traction Control Yes

Night Vision No

Rollover Protection Bars No

Fog Lamps Yes

Parking Aid No

Tire Pressure Monitor Yes

Back-Up Camera Yes

Stability Control Yes

Other Features Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
ABS And Driveline Traction Control
Side Impact Beams
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
Lane Departure Alert (lda) w/Steering Assist Lane Keeping Assist
Lane Departure Alert (lda) w/Steering Assist Lane Departure…
Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) Blind Spot Sensor
Pre-Collision System (pcs) Forward Collision and Rear…
Low Tire Pressure Warning
Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
Curtain 1st, 2nd And 3rd Row Airbags
Airbag Occupancy Sensor
Driver Knee Airbag and Passenger Cushion Front Airbag
Rear Child Safety Locks
Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Height…
Back-Up Camera


Basic Miles/km 36,000

Basic Years 3

Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited

Corrosion Years 5

Drivetrain Miles/km 60,000

Drivetrain Years 5

Maintenance Miles/km 25,000

Maintenance Years 2

Roadside Assistance Miles/km Unlimited

Roadside Assistance Years 2

Other Specs

Maximum Alternator Capacity (amps) 150

Dead Weight Hitch – Max Trailer Wt. (lbs) 5000

Wt Distributing Hitch – Max Tongue Wt. (lbs) 500

Dead Weight Hitch – Max Tongue Wt. (lbs) 500

Maximum Trailering Capacity (lbs) 5000

Wt Distributing Hitch – Max Trailer Wt. (lbs) 5000

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