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2011 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2011 Toyota Highlander earns a high spot in our midsize SUV rankings thanks to its quality interior, high safety scores, and strong reliability rating. However, it has an underpowered four-cylinder base engine.

Pros & Cons

  • Great fuel economy with base engine
  • Well-made interior
  • Good safety and reliability ratings
  • Underpowered base engine
  • Cramped third row

New for 2011

  • Third-row seats became standard
  • Updated front-end styling
  • Four-cylinder engine added to SE trim




Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 8.1
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Toyota Highlander Overview

Is the 2011 Toyota Highlander a Good Used SUV?

The 2011 Highlander is a very good used midsize SUV, especially with its available V6 engine. While the base four-cylinder engine is underpowered, it boasts great fuel economy for the class. The Highlander offers a smooth ride, but its handling isn't very lively. This SUV’s maximum cargo capacity is good, but there’s not much room for cargo when all of the seats are in use.

When it was new, we named the Highlander our 2011 Best SUV (3 Rows) for Families for its family-friendly features and space, and ability to keep families safe and on budget. We review the 2011 Highlander Hybrid separately.

Why You Can Trust Us

We do not base our used car rankings and reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we collect information like safety and reliability reports, total cost of ownership estimates, and the views of the automotive press. We analyzed 73 professional evaluations for this 2011 Toyota Highlander review to help you make an informed buying decision.

Our experienced team of writers, editors, and analysts has been ranking and reviewing the best cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs since 2007. We remain unbiased by refusing pricey gifts and trips from auto manufacturers, and employing an independent agency to manage the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2011 Toyota Highlander?

Based on almost 250 listings for the 2011 Highlander on our site, the average list price is $16,000. Prices range from about $11,800 to roughly $20,200, and they vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2011 Toyota Highlander Cost to Own?

Five-year costs for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs for the 2011 Toyota Highlander are estimated to be about $26,821. That’s about $500 below average for a midsize SUV.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Highlander?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander has a base MSRP of $31,230, which is almost double the 2011 Highlander’s average price of $16,000. The used Highlander saves you money, but it lacks many of the standard features found in the 2018 Highlander, including adaptive cruise control, seating for eight, Bluetooth, and safety features like lane departure warning and lane keep assist.

Read about the new Toyota Highlander »

The high-end price for a 2011 Highlander is $20,200, which puts you in the range of a new vehicle – just not a new midsize SUV. If you can live with a smaller vehicle, consider several highly ranked new subcompact SUVs available at that price point, including the 2019 Hyundai Kona ($19,990), the 2019 Mazda CX-3 ($20,390), and the 2019 Honda HR-V ($20,520). All have updated infotainment systems, more available safety technology, push-button start, and better fuel economy.

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Which Model Year of the Toyota Highlander Is Best?

The Highlander received a mid-generation front-end restyling and standard third-row seating for 2011, which was optional for older models. There were no other significant changes to this generation of the Highlander before a complete redesign for 2014. The 2014 Highlander added standard seating for eight, Bluetooth, and more cargo volume behind the third row – though, the maximum cargo volume shrunk by a little. Overall, you’ll likely spend less with a 2011 Highlander, but a 2014 Highlander will have more up-to-date technology.

Compare the 2011, 2012, and 2014 Highlander »

How Reliable Is the 2011 Toyota Highlander?

The 2011 Toyota Highlander has an above-average reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Highlander reliability »

2011 Toyota Highlander Recalls

As of this writing, the 2011 Highlander has five open recalls. They address problems with electrical wiring of the seat heater, a power window master switch that may melt, occupant sensing system calibration, and inaccurate load carrying capacity labels. Make sure all safety recalls are fixed before buying a used vehicle.

See more information on Toyota Highlander safety recalls »

Which Used Make Toyota Highlander Is Right for Me?

The 2011 Highlander has three trim levels: Highlander (base), SE, and Limited. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available in models with the V6 engine. We review the 2011 Highlander Hybrid separately.

The base Highlander has amenities like a fabric seats and a six-speaker audio system, but the SE is the best choice for most buyers. It’s well-equipped with leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather trimmed steering wheel, heated sideview mirrors, satellite radio, a USB port, and a 3.5-inch multi-information display.

Among other features, the Limited trim offers tri-zone automatic climate control, perforated leather seats, and push-button start.

See 2011 Toyota Highlander trims and specs »

How Safe Is the Highlander?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2011 Highlander four out of five stars in the front and rollover tests. The NHTSA also gave it five stars for the side crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2011 Highlander a Top Safety Pick, the institute’s second-highest award. The 2011 Highlander also received the top rating of Good for the moderate overlap front, side, roof, and rear crash tests.

The 2011 Highlander has no standard active safety features, but some models feature a rearview camera.

See Highlander safety scores »

2011 Toyota Highlander Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2011 Toyota Highlander or 2011 Ford Explorer?

Like the Highlander, the 2011 Ford Explorer is a solid pick in the midsize SUV class. The Explorer has a few advantages, like a standard V6 that delivers comparable fuel economy to the Highlander with either of its engines. This Ford also has a more upscale interior than the Toyota. The Highlander has more cargo space overall, but the Explorer has more than double the Highlander's cargo space behind the third row. Although the Explorer is handier and more upscale, its five-year operating costs are higher by about $1,300, and it has the lowest reliability rating J.D. Power gives out.

Which Is Better: 2011 Toyota Highlander or 2011 Chevrolet Traverse?

Both the 2011 Chevrolet Traverse and the Highlander perform well in our rankings. The Traverse's base engine is a V6 that is more powerful than either of the Highlander's power plants. The Traverse can seat up to eight compared to the Highlander's seven, and it has an adult-friendly third row. This Chevy is also a much better cargo hauler, with a maximum cargo capacity that is 21 cubic feet larger than that of the Toyota. Still, the Highlander has a higher reliability rating than the Traverse, making it a slightly better choice. But in the end, you can't go wrong with either SUV.

Compare the Highlander, Explorer, and Traverse »

2011 Highlander Performance

How Does the 2011 Toyota Highlander Drive?

The 2011 Highlander offers a smooth ride, but it has numb steering and subpar handling. It comes standard with a 187-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. A 270-horsepower V6 engine is available, and it comes with a five-speed automatic. The V6’s extra power makes it the better choice, since the four-cylinder sometimes feels underpowered and offers only a minor boost in fuel economy. Front-wheel drive comes standard, while all-wheel drive is available in models with the V6 engine. We review the 2011 Highlander Hybrid separately.

Does the 2011 Toyota Highlander Get Good Gas Mileage?

According to the EPA, four-cylinder Highlander models achieve 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, which is about average for the segment. Front-wheel-drive models with the V6 return 18/24 mpg city/highway, while all-wheel drive V6 models are rated at 17/22 mpg.

2011 Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the 2011 Highlander can tow up to 3,500 pounds with the four-cylinder engine or up to 5,000 pounds with the V6.

Read more about Highlander performance »

2011 Highlander Interior

How Many People Does the 2011 Highlander Seat?

The 2011 Highlander seats seven in three rows. Easy-clean fabric upholstery comes standard, and leather upholstery is available. The third row is cramped, but access is easy thanks to the sliding and folding second-row bench. The Highlander’s interior features quality materials and a straightforward layout of gauges and controls.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2011 Toyota Highlander?

The 2011 Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors on the outboard second-row seats.

2011 Toyota Highlander Features

Standard features include a six-speaker stereo system, remote keyless entry, six cup holders, and three 12-volt auxiliary power outlets. Available features include tri-zone automatic climate control, upgraded stereo systems with Bluetooth and satellite radio, a touch-screen navigation system, a rearview camera, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, and a USB port.

See 2011 Toyota Highlander specs »

Read more about Highlander interior »

2011 Toyota Highlander Dimensions

Toyota Highlander Cargo Space

Behind its third row of seats, the Highlander has 10.3 cubic feet of storage space, which is low for the class. Fold down those seats, and you’ll open up a 42.3-cubic-foot storage bay. The Highlander’s maximum capacity of 95.4 cubic feet can be accessed by folding down the second and third rows. The Highlander can easily handle a small family and their luggage, but there’s not much room for gear if third-row passengers are onboard.

2011 Highlander Length and Weight

The Highlander is 15.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,946 up to 4,464 pounds. The gross vehicle weight rating goes from a low of 5,500 pounds to a high of 6,000 pounds depending on the Highlander’s equipment.

Where Was the 2011 Toyota Highlander Built?

Toyota manufactured the 2011 Highlander in Indiana.

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