I purchased the Basic model with the Tech and Cold Weather packages. Although the Tech Package is definitely pricey, you wind up having to get it in order to get the features you want. In this configu...
I purchased the Basic model with the Tech and Cold Weather packages. Although the Tech Package is definitely pricey, you wind up having to get it in order to get the features you want. In this configuration, the car is fairly well appointed and comfortable and gives the overall impression of quality. However, my prior car was a rock-bottom base model minivan from another company and it came with both rear audio control and control of the rear air conditioning from the front, both of which, I was disappointed to find, are not present in this configuration.
I live in New England, but elected to buy a FWD only car to get better mileage and minimize maintenance and potential repairs. The car performed absolutely tremendously in one of the worst winters ever, with its anti-lock brakes, traction control, and snow-mode. It has the V-6 engine and in normal conditions the car drives well and rides very smoothly, with good acceleration and great braking. Again, this is somewhat a function of not having to carry around the extra weight of the AWD system. One complaint about the driveability is that the car does not seem to want to go straight and therefore requires continual steering adjustment. Lastly, it would have been much better if Toyota had included a six-speed transmission to provide better gas mileage.
As for design shortfalls, although there are not many, there are at least a couple. The third row seat in this class is definitely a rarity and they did manage to get it in there, but it is very tight, difficult to get into, and when folded consumes usable space. Also be aware that, when the third row seat is up, there is virtually no stowage behind it. The aforementioned minivan could take several medium suitcases edgewise plus smaller bags on top -- a definite plus when taking a trip. Also, Toyota probably spent a large amount of time designing the removable second-row center section, which can be swapped with an interchangeable console and stowed beneath the front row console. Unfortunately, this completely consumes any usable storage space in the passenger area and the benefit is not worth it. Just try finding a place to stow your tissue box in the Highlander.