$8,807 - $11,648

2009 Toyota Highlander Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2009 Toyota Highlander was new.


Interior: 8.1

The Toyota Highlander's interior received positive reviews for its versatility and abundance of standard features. Still, with competitors offering more room, the Highlander's cabin isn't a standout.

  • "Interior: Good. Well-appointed with a number of options to keep the driver comfortable and the passengers entertained." -- The Detroit News
  • "The quieter interior you notice right away, because this is not your typical SUV, with a cabin more akin to a mid-price sedan. Even with the lower overall height, the driver still gets the feeling of an SUV's higher seating-that 'I'm in control' position." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The Base model's interior is fitted with above-average-grade plastics and comfortable cloth upholstery. Only the fuzzy headliner feels cheap. Sport models have good-quality suede and metal trim throughout the cabin. The Limited's interior adds some unconvincing faux-wood trim." -- Consumer Guide


The 2009 Highlander seats up to seven in three rows, though the third row was optional when it was new. Base models seat five. Though some complained about a cramped third row, almost every reviewer loved the easy third-row access, thanks to a sliding and folding second-row bench.

  • "In the previous version, the third-row seats seemed like an afterthought, but the latest Highlander's third row is spacious enough for smaller adults to use. Even compared with heavier full-size sport-utility vehicles, the Highlander features competitive interior space and comfort for seven occupants." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Highlander's seats are nicely supportive, and there's ample headroom and legroom. Forward visibility is good thanks to an elevated seating position. Rear visibility is impaired by 2nd-row headrests and thick rear roof pillars. Entering Highlander requires only a modest step up." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It's behind the front seats that the Highlander shows its stuff, with more tricks than Cirque du Soleil. I especially liked the center section of the second row that turns two seats into three. Flip the padded section back and presto! A table! Lift the ends of the table and discover two big bins. Remove the whole thing, slide it under the front console, and walk through to row three." -- About.com

Interior Features

Most reviewers thought the Highlander was well-equipped and the dashboard and controls functional, though not perfect. Some test drivers had problems using the DVD system.

  • "The base Highlander lineup comes fairly well equipped, but buyers seeking more luxury and optional equipment such as a leather interior, a sunroof, a premium stereo, or satellite navigation will have to opt for the Sport or Limited trim level. Two-wheel-drive base versions can be had without a third row." -- Car and Driver
  • "All versions have large, easy-to-read gauges and high-mounted audio and climate controls. The available navigation system is fairly intuitive but absorbs and complicates audio-system adjustments. The Hybrid includes a fuel-economy-indicator gauge behind the steering wheel that shows when it's being driven most efficiently." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Highlander Limited comes with an impressive lineup of available cabin tech, which rivals that of SUVs from luxury brands like Acura and Infiniti." -- CNET
  • "The third row doesn't split, which is an absolute shame, and the 'Select' button on the DVD player in the rear was useless. After multiple failed attempts to select 'Play' (the curser always jumped to an unwanted location), my husband and I were happy to accidentally select the repeat-play feature because it meant the movie actually came on." -- Mother Proof


Cargo space in the 2009 Highlander may be impressive, but space with all three rows in use still doesn't measure up to top rivals. Small storage areas are a high point.

  • "Consider the matter of 10 cupholders and 4 bottle holders. Plus enough nook-and-cranny storage to please the Thomas English Muffin people." -- MarketWatch
  • "There's only grocery-bag space behind the 3rd-row seat, but that stows quickly to create a flat floor. The split 2nd-row seatbacks are more cumbersome to fold and don't lay quite flat. Sport and Limited models have a useful separate-opening glass in the rear hatch." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Cargo space remains scant when all three rows are in use, as there are just over 10 cubic feet." -- Edmunds

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