First, my Highlander is the 4-cylinder, 2-wheel drive SE (i.e., basic) model. I've owned it for 2 months, and I could hardly be happier. It handles the dirt road where I live, with ruts and some washo...
First, my Highlander is the 4-cylinder, 2-wheel drive SE (i.e., basic) model. I've owned it for 2 months, and I could hardly be happier. It handles the dirt road where I live, with ruts and some washouts, perfectly, and has a good smooth highway ride also. I do mostly highway driving between 80 and 85 mph, and I've gotten about 24 mpg on average. I don't think any other medium-size SUV can come close unless it were a hybrid. One time when I drove about 300 highway miles between 55 and 60 mph (sightseeing), I got 27 mpg, even with a bike on the back! It also has plenty of pep, passing with ease when it needs to. Much better acceleration than my old 1995 V6 4Runner, in fact.
Cargo capacity is excellent, better than my old 4Runner. I fit a 44" round table in the back with a few inches to spare. The one-step seat fold-down is quite nice. The manual lists a 3500-lb towing capacity. I have not tried towing a trailer yet.
Passenger comfort is where the Highlander really outshines the '95 4Runner. My dad is 6', and he was very comfortable riding in the back for hours.
Also, I put in a new stereo with Infinity speakers and a subwoofer in the cargo area, and it sounds fantastic! (The factory stereo was run-of-the mill.)
In short, I have excellent mileage for an SUV, good cargo hauling and towing, comfort for 5 passengers, good off-road capability, a smooth highway ride, good handling and acceleration, and Toyota reliability and longevity. I read many reviews of SUVs and light trucks before deciding on the Highlander, and I honestly think this is the best 5-passenger SUV out there: the vehicle that can do it all!