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2001 Toyota Highlander

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

184.4” x 68.3”


Front-wheel drive



2 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

  • Limited

  • Base


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Our 2001 Toyota Highlander trim comparison will help you decide.

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2001 Toyota Highlander review: Our expert's take

By Bob Golfen

Toyota, in press material that presents the latest member of its sport utility menagerie, paraphrases an old candy-bar ad: “Sometimes you feel like a truck, sometimes you don’t.”

True enough. Which is why the Toyota Highlander presents itself as a combination SUV, minivan and passenger car. A crossover SUV based on the Camry automobile platform, Highlander manages to blend the attributes of the three vehicle types while avoiding many of the pitfalls.

Though it may look like a rugged SUV, Highlander is no rough-and-tumble off-highway vehicle. And it would be a misnomer to call it a truck. Carlike unibody construction, similar to the smaller RAV4, and a softly sprung suspension make Highlander ride and handle nearly as well as a car, but it limits exposure to the wilderness. Highlander is mainly a practical family vehicle, roomy and accommodating, more attuned to suburban streets and parking lots than boulder-strewn trails. Think of it as a tall station wagon with good driving characteristics. Look for them with “Mom’s Taxi” bumper stickers.

By the way, Highlander is a less-expensive version of the RX 300 built by Toyota’s upscale sibling, Lexus. RX 300 was the vehicle that first defined crossover SUVs, now a fast-growing niche, offering carlike luxury accommodations with the convenience of an SUV and the roominess of a minivan. Sound familiar? So if you’ve been coveting the expensive RX 300, this is an opportunity to get essentially the same vehicle, though slightly longer, less stylish and not as well equipped.

A flat floor increases the roomy feel of a minivan. One feature that was appreciated in the RX 300 that carries over to Highlander is the shifter level-mounted low in the center of the dashboard, set up like a floor shifter. Definitely preferable to a steering-column shifter and allowing a pass-through between the front seats.

Highlander starts at under $24,000 for the four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive base model. Add about $1,000 for the V-6, still pretty reasonable. But start laying on all-wheel drive and options, and Highlander quickly passes the $30,000 mark, just as the test car did.

On the road, Highlander feels soft and safe with the high seating position of an SUV. It’s a substantial critter, bigger than such crossover competitors as Ford Escape and nearly as big as Pontiac Aztek and newcomer Buick Rendezvous.

The 220-horsepower engine howls happily under acceleration, making this heavyweight feel lively enough. Standard engine is a 155-horsepower four, but I’d spring the extra $1,000 for the V-6.

Gas mileage is decent, compared with the guzzler numbers for truck-based SUVs.

The steering is nicely responsive with good road. The handling is good, but that soft suspension and high profile equate to significant body sway in turns. Freeway driving is solid and competent, although the rear-seat passengers comp lained of wind roar.

The interior is pleasant with excellent headroom and legroom throughout. But it’s also rather bland and uninteresting, and it lacks cubbies and stowage spaces.

The test Highlander was nicely equipped with options that included a power moonroof, $815; a package that includes power driver’s seat, garage-door opener and several other electronic features, $645; 16-inch aluminum wheels and premium tires, $500; keyless entry and cargo cover behind the back seat, $320; tinted windows, $310; side air bags, $250; towing upgrades totaling $450; and the odd, $40 option of daytime running lights, which is usually standard or not offered at all.

Of course, one can’t review any Toyota without mentioning what for many people is the main selling point, which is Toyota’s enviable reputation for reliability.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.4
  • Interior 4.2
  • Performance 4.2
  • Value 4.3
  • Exterior 4.3
  • Reliability 4.6
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Most recent consumer reviews


Car after 20 years!

I would say that this car it amazing and nice, but also this car has a lot of maintenance like coming up with some check engine lights, also if you replace your stereo to a newer one please check your wires and where's connected to on my driver side, there a weird sound when I turn on the stereo but it goes away when I turn up the volume or turn it off. Without those issues I would say this car is a so-so its still good after 20 years, would I recommend this car? yes, Only the ones that are properly taken care of. Very reliable.


Reliable, Comfortable and Good looking

I purchased my reliable Highlander on September 13, 2001, (I never forget, YES 2 days after the NY attack). This car went everywhere. In 2009 and 2011 I drove my two kids out of the hospital in it when they were born. I sold it (in less than one hour) on May 2019 with 289,000 miles. Never had any major issues, probably the worse was a CV joint. With regular maintenance it can go many more miles.


Not a more reliable car out there

I purchased my 2001 Highlander with 125,000 miles 5 years ago and have taken it cross country multiple times. Delivering food in college and never once had a breakdown except for an alternator at 240,000 miles. Other than scheduled maintenance I have never had to replace anything. No car beats this even for it being a 4 cylinder.

See all 29 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Toyota
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
60 months/unlimited distance
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
7 years/less than 85,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12, 000 miles
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
160- or 174-point inspections
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

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