2012 Toyota Highlander

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$12,483–$23,647 Inventory Prices
Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Toyota Highlander. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Gas mileage (Highlander Hybrid)
  • Versatile second-row seating
  • Responsive transmissions
  • Comfortable front seats
  • Easy-folding rear seats

The Bad

  • Mushy brakes
  • Lackluster handling
  • Inconsistent cabin materials
  • Cramped third row

Notable Features of the 2012 Toyota Highlander

  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Rear climate controls
  • Split-folding third row
  • Available hybrid version

2012 Toyota Highlander Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview

Offered in front- and all-wheel-drive form, the Toyota Highlander crossover comes with a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. The Highlander can seat up to seven people in three rows of seats, and competitors include the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot.

A hybrid version of the Highlander is offered, and it features styling changes to differentiate it from the non-hybrid model.


(Skip to details on the: Highlander Hybrid)

New for 2012
There are no significant changes for the 2012 model year.

Exterior
Chrome accents adorn the rocker panels, and base and SE trims have 17-inch alloy wheels. The Highlander SE also features fog lights, a glass hatch that opens separately from the liftgate, and black roof rails. The Limited trim level adds 19-inch wheels and chrome roof rails.

At 188.4 inches long, the Highlander is one of the smaller three-row crossovers on the market. Its turning circle, 38.7 feet, is on the narrower side of its class. Exterior features include:

  • Standard variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Optional moonroof
  • Optional power liftgate


Interior
A third-row seat is standard, and it folds into the floor in a 50/50 split. The second-row bench features a removable center seat that stows in a compartment below the front-seat center console. Without it, the second row converts into two captain's chairs with a center aisle or a center console (also removable). Both seats can recline and adjust forward and back, and the passenger-side seat has a w...

Vehicle Overview

Offered in front- and all-wheel-drive form, the Toyota Highlander crossover comes with a four-cylinder or V-6 engine. The Highlander can seat up to seven people in three rows of seats, and competitors include the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot.

A hybrid version of the Highlander is offered, and it features styling changes to differentiate it from the non-hybrid model.


(Skip to details on the: Highlander Hybrid)

New for 2012
There are no significant changes for the 2012 model year.

Exterior
Chrome accents adorn the rocker panels, and base and SE trims have 17-inch alloy wheels. The Highlander SE also features fog lights, a glass hatch that opens separately from the liftgate, and black roof rails. The Limited trim level adds 19-inch wheels and chrome roof rails.

At 188.4 inches long, the Highlander is one of the smaller three-row crossovers on the market. Its turning circle, 38.7 feet, is on the narrower side of its class. Exterior features include:

  • Standard variable intermittent windshield wipers
  • Optional moonroof
  • Optional power liftgate


Interior
A third-row seat is standard, and it folds into the floor in a 50/50 split. The second-row bench features a removable center seat that stows in a compartment below the front-seat center console. Without it, the second row converts into two captain's chairs with a center aisle or a center console (also removable). Both seats can recline and adjust forward and back, and the passenger-side seat has a walk-in feature for easier third-row access.

Fold down the second and third rows, and the Highlander's 95.4 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume is class-competitive. With the second and third rows up, however, there's just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo volume — small for its class. Other interior features include:

  • Standard fabric upholstery; leather optional
  • Standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Standard air conditioning; optional three-zone automatic air conditioning
  • Standard CD stereo with MP3 jack
  • Optional touch-screen navigation system
  • Optional rear entertainment system

 
Under the Hood

A 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, and a 3.5-liter V-6 is optional. Four-cylinder models come with front-wheel drive, but if you get the V-6 engine, you can have all-wheel drive. Mechanical features include:

  • Four-cylinder makes 187 horsepower and 186 pounds-feet of torque
  • V-6 makes 270 hp and 248 pounds-feet of torque
  • Six-speed (four-cylinder) or five-speed (V-6) automatic transmission
  • Maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds (four-cylinder) or 5,000 pounds (V-6) when properly equipped


Safety
Standard safety features include:

  • Antilock brakes
  • Side-impact airbags for the front seats
  • Driver's knee airbag
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Electronic stability system
  • Active front head restraints


Highlander Hybrid
A 3.5-liter V-6 underpins the 2012 Highlander Hybrid's drivetrain. With the help of an electric motor, the Highlander Hybrid makes a combined 280 hp. Equipped with standard all-wheel drive, the hybrid uses an additional electric motor to power its rear wheels rather than the usual driveshaft coupling in most all-wheel-drive models. The Highlander Hybrid can cruise at low speeds on electric power only. A dashboard EV button allows drivers to maximize the threshold for electric-only propulsion, given a sufficient battery charge.

An electrically variable automatic transmission is standard. A display alerts drivers to which sources of power are being used — the gasoline engine, electric motors or a combination of both — as well as battery charge and overall gas mileage.

The Highlander Hybrid is styled similarly to the non-hybrid Highlander, but several elements — a unique grille and bumper, plus vertical fog lights — aim to differentiate the two. The headlights and taillights are tinted blue as well. Trim levels include the base and Limited, with equipment similar to the regular Highlander. Back to top


Latest 2012 Highlander Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.7)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Love my used Highlander!

by HarrytheHighlanderfan from Chino Hills, Ca on July 10, 2018

Great car! Never thought I would drive a SUV but it doesn?t even feel like one! It?s beautiful, comfortable and roomy! I love my Harry (Highlander). Read full review

(5.0)

Wonderful vehicle! Lots of space!

by Ddbird69 from Osawatomie, ks on July 2, 2018

Love this vehicle, just don?t need the space anymore. Serves the needs of a family without looking like a ?mom van?! Drives great, has giddy-up and nice styling inside and out :) Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Toyota Highlander currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Toyota Highlander Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
acceptable
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    24 months / 25,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Toyota

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, Carfax vehicle history report, travel protection and toll-free assistance line

  • Limited Warranty

    1 year / 12,000 miles

    Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase. Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original in-service date ($50 deductible) Note: In AL, FL, GA, NC and SC, 7-year/100,000 mile limited warranty coverage begins Jan. 1 of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles. Hybrid: 8-year/100,000 mile warranty on Factory HV Battery for Toyota Hybrid Vehicles.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 160 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Highlander received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker