$9,807 - $13,424

2010 Toyota Highlander Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2010 Toyota Highlander was new.


Interior: 8.1

The Toyota Highlander's interior receives positive reviews for its family-friendly versatility. One of the only complaints is the sparse amount of cargo room with all three rows of seats in use.

  • "The new interior is now more luxurious and Lexus-like than the previous generation." -- Car and Driver
  • 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 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
  • "It may not be the flashiest crossover, but it's hard to beat the Highlander's interior space and cargo room for its starting price, unless you want to consider a minivan." -- Cars.com


The Highlander base model comes with two rows of seats, but Sport and Limited models upgrade to three rows and offer total seating for seven. Though some complain that the third row is cramped, this is common for the class. In spite of this, almost every reviewer loves the third-row access thanks to a sliding and folding second-row bench. Leather seating surfaces and heated front seats are optional for the Sport and standard on the Limited model.

The three-row Highlander starts at about $30,000. A better option might be the Chevrolet Traverse, which is about $1,000 less and features a third row that's comfortable even for adults.

  • "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 
  • Ample 2nd-row space for two adults on a 40/20/40 split seat that slides fore and aft a few inches to benefit either 2nd- or 3rd-row legroom. The center section of the 2nd-row seat can be configured one of three ways: as a very narrow, sparsely padded seat; as a console with tray table; and as an empty passageway to the 3rd row. The 3rd-row bench can seat adults if the 2nd row is moved forward, though they'll sit knees-up and find little foot space."  -- Consumer Guide
  • "For the second row, there is no need to decide whether you want a 3 person bench seat or a pair of captain's chairs. With the Highlander there is a center section of that second-row seat that is easily removable and can be stored in a special compartment in the bottom of the console when not needed." -- The Family Car
  • "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

The base Highlander comes with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel and cruise control. It also features a family-friendly conversation mirror, which allows the driver to keep an eye on kids in the back without turning around. Note that very few options or upgrades are available for the base model.

A premium sound system with Bluetooth, a voice-activated navigation system and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system are optional for the Sport and Limited models. However, make sure to consider the options packages carefully. The Sport and Limited models offer Extra Value Packages that combine several optional features and can take up to $1,500 off the price of adding them individually (savings vary by package).

  • 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." -- 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." -- 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


Overall cargo space in the 2010 Highlander may be impressive, but space with all three rows in use still doesn't measure up to top rivals. With the third row in use, it provides just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo space (nearly the same amount of space as the considerably less expensive Dodge Journey). With the third and second rows folded down, it provides 42.3 and 95.4 cubic feet of cargo space, respectively.

By contrast, the Honda Pilot, which costs about $2,000 less than the Toyota, provides a more impressive 18 cubic feet behind its third row. Still, it provides less space than the Highlander overall -- only 87.0 cubic feet -- with the second and third rows folded down.

Small storage areas are a high point for the Highlander. Features include a center console with a whopping six cup holders, storage compartments and second-row seat vents. Two-row Sport models also get a cargo area under-floor storage compartment. Second-row-seat one-touch fold-flat levers are standard on Sport and Limited models.

  • 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. Top-notch small item storage includes 10 cupholders and four bottle holders, not to mention assorted map pockets and other convenient nooks and crannies." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Consider the matter of 10 cupholders and 4 bottle holders. Plus enough nook-and-cranny storage to please the Thomas English Muffin people." -- MarketWatch
  • "Cargo space remains scant when all three rows are in use, as there are just over 10 cubic feet." -- Edmunds
  • While overall length grew, there's still precious little space for cargo behind the third-row seats. Grocery bags? Nope. Eat out. At least the backs easily fold flat with the pull of a strap to expand cargo space. If you need even more room, pull levers in the rear sidewall and second-row seat backs fold flat too." -- Chicago Tribune

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