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2009 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2009 Toyota Highlander ranks near the top of its class for its comfortable ride, high-quality interior and excellent fuel economy. If you’re shopping for a used three-row crossover, be sure to put the Highlander on your list.

Pros & Cons

  • Fuel-efficient base engine
  • Smooth ride
  • Good safety ratings
  • Not much fun to drive
  • Cramped third row

Rankings & Awards

The 2009 Toyota Highlander's #3 ranking is based on its score within the 2009 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. It was the winner of our 2009 Best Midsize Crossover for the Money award. Currently the Toyota Highlander has a score of 9.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 66 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 8.1
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.0
Safety: 9.6
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2009 Toyota Highlander Overview

The 2009 Toyota Highlander is one of the best three-row SUVs you can buy because of its practicality. The Highlander’s fuel economy from its new-for-2009 four-cylinder engine is fantastic, with an EPA rating of 20/27 mpg city/highway on two-wheel drive models, and its V6 engine is fairly powerful, according to reviewers. They also praised its comfortable ride. The Highlander also has a good safety score. Reviewers appreciated the Highlander’s high-quality cabin and flexible seating arrangements.

Standard features are basic and include a six-speaker audio system, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel and eight-way manually-adjustable driver’s seat. However, the Highlander can be outfitted to relative luxury, with available features like leather seats, navigation, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and wood grain trim.

Reviewers noted that the Highlander has a few downsides, though. Its base four-cylinder engine helps the Highlander return great fuel economy, but it’s also fairly underpowered. Additionally, critics noted that the Highlander’s third-row seats are cramped. However, that’s a fairly common complaint among used midsize SUVs, and considering the rest of its positive attributes, the 2009 Toyota Highlander remains a great choice for a used midsize crossover.

See the full 2009 Toyota Highlander specs »

Other Cars to Consider

You should also consider the 2009 Buick Enclave, which is one of the most upscale SUVs in its class, with tons of standard features and sleek, attractive looks. The Enclave’s third-row seats are nearly adult-sized, and it offers great cargo capacity when compared with other used midsize SUVs.

The highly-ranked 2009 Chevrolet Traverse offers more cargo space than almost any other midsize crossover, and a third row of seats that are adult-sized. Test drivers said the Traverse has fairly good handling for such a large SUV, and although a few of its interior materials feel cheap, the cabin is well-made on the whole.

Compare the Highlander to the Enclave and Traverse »

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