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Rankings & Research

The 2012 Toyota Highlander ranking is based on its score within the 2012 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. Currently the Toyota Highlander has a score of 8.4 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 79 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 8.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2012 Toyota Highlander ranks highly in the midsize SUV class thanks to its comfortable ride, spacious cabin, and high safety scores. However, the Highlander’s base engine feels underpowered.

Pros & Cons

  • Great fuel economy with the base engine
  • Comfortable ride
  • Good maneuverability
  • Sluggish acceleration with base engine

2012 Toyota Highlander Overview

Is the 2012 Toyota Highlander a Good Used SUV?

The 2012 Highlander is a good used midsize SUV, but it needs a stronger base engine. A more powerful V6 engine is available, but fuel economy is nothing special for the segment no matter which engine you choose. The Highlander also has a high reliability rating, below-average operating costs, and good maneuverability compared to rivals.

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 79 professional evaluations for this 2012 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 2012 Toyota Highlander?

Our site has over 390 listings for the 2012 Highlander, with an average price of $17,900. Prices range from about $13,900 to roughly $22,000, and they vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2012 Toyota Highlander Cost to Own?

Five-year costs for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs for the 2012 Toyota Highlander are estimated to be about $24,658. That’s well 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. It comes equipped with standard features that the 2012 model lacks, like Bluetooth, sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Still, it’s hard to justify the big price difference to add these features.

Read about the new Toyota Highlander »

You won’t be able to find a similarly sized new SUV for the same price as a used 2012 Highlander.

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Which Model Year of the Toyota Highlander Is Best?

There are few differences between the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Highlander models. We recommend a 2011 Highlander because it likely costs less than later models while still offering many of the same features.

Toyota completely redesigned the Highlander for 2014. The SUV saw an increase in seating capacity to eight. It also gained standard Bluetooth and more cargo room behind the third row, but its maximum cargo capacity declined. There were no changes to the Highlander for 2015, and the 2016 Highlander only added a standard towing package. Consider the 2014 Highlander if you want the benefits of the redesign. Otherwise, save your money and get an older model.

Compare the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Highlander »

How Reliable Is the 2012 Toyota Highlander?

The 2012 Toyota Highlander has an above-average reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Highlander reliability »

2012 Toyota Highlander Recalls

As of this writing, the 2012 Highlander has two open recalls. One deals with the occupant sensing system calibration, which could affect how the front passenger air bag deploys. The second recall is for inaccurate load carrying capacity labels. Make sure any 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 2012 Highlander comes in three trims: Highlander (base), SE, and Limited. The base Highlander has cloth upholstery, a six-speaker audio system, and front and rear air conditioning.

We recommend the SE trim since it has the best combination of features and value. It comes standard with leather upholstery, heated front seats, satellite radio, a USB port, a 3.5-inch multi-information display, heated sideview mirrors.

The Limited trim’s standard features include tri-zone automatic climate control, perforated leather seats, and push-button start.

See 2012 Toyota Highlander trims and specs »

Certified Pre-Owned Toyota Highlander Warranty

You might find a 2012 Highlander that is still eligible for a certified pre-owned warranty from Toyota, but the chances are slim. To be eligible, a Toyota vehicle must be six model years or newer and have less than 85,000 miles on the odometer.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the Toyota certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the Highlander?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2012 Highlander a Top Safety Pick, the organization’s second-highest honor. The IIHS also gave the 2012 Highlander the top rating of Good for the moderate overlap front, side, roof, and rear safety tests. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2012 Highlander received four out of five stars in the front and rollover crash tests, as well as five stars for the side crash test.

A rearview camera can be found on some 2012 Highlander models.

See Highlander safety scores »

2012 Toyota Highlander Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2012 Toyota Highlander or 2012 Chevrolet Traverse?

The 2012 Chevrolet Traverse finishes near the Highlander in our midsize SUV rankings. The Traverse is a better choice for hauling people and their stuff. It has an adult-friendly third row and a maximum cargo capacity that is 21 cubic feet larger than the 2012 Highlander’s. The Traverse also has a standard V6, while the base Highlander has a four-cylinder engine. Still, this four-cylinder engine is more fuel-efficient than anything in the Traverse engine lineup. It’s worth giving each SUV a test drive before you make your final decision.

Which Is Better: 2012 Toyota Highlander or 2012 Mazda CX-9?

The 2012 Mazda CX-9 has sporty handling and a standard V6 engine that puts out about the same amount of power as the Highlander’s V6. The CX-9 also offers a larger cargo bay and more legroom for second- and third-row passengers. However, the Highlander is the better choice overall. It has higher safety and reliability ratings than the CX-9, which has by far the lowest safety score in the midsize SUV class.

Compare the Highlander, Traverse, and CX-9 »

2012 Highlander Performance

How Does the 2012 Toyota Highlander Drive?

There’s nothing sporty about its handling, but the 2012 Highlander is a nice highway cruiser with a smooth ride. The base powertrain is a 187-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. An available 270-horsepower V6 engine comes with a five-speed automatic on the SE and Limited models. Front-wheel drive is standard, and V6-equipped models are available with all-wheel drive.

Does the 2012 Toyota Highlander Get Good Gas Mileage?

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

2012 Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, the 2012 Highlander can tow up to 3,500 pounds with its four-cylinder engine or up to 5,000 pounds with the V6.

Read more about Highlander performance »

2012 Highlander Interior

How Many People Does the 2012 Highlander Seat?

The 2012 Highlander has standard seating for seven in three rows. The cabin is both comfortable and spacious, with a good amount of quality materials throughout. The third row is cramped but easily accessible thanks to the Highlander’s sliding and folding second-row bench seat. Cloth upholstery comes standard, and leather upholstery is available in the higher trims.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2012 Toyota Highlander?

The 2012 Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors on the outboard second-row seats.

2012 Toyota Highlander Features

The base Highlander is competitive with other segment rivals when it comes to standard features. The base model comes equipped with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, remote keyless entry, front and rear air conditioning, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Tri-zone automatic climate control, a premium sound system with Bluetooth, a voice-activated navigation system, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system can be found on some SE and Limited models.

See 2012 Toyota Highlander specs »

Read more about Highlander interior »

2012 Toyota Highlander Dimensions

Toyota Highlander Cargo Space

The Highlander has 10.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. That space expands to 42.3 cubes with the third row folded down, or 95.4 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded. Some rivals have more space.

2012 Highlander Length and Weight

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

Where Was the 2012 Toyota Highlander Built?

Toyota manufactured the 2012 Highlander in Indiana.

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