$13,095 - $17,248

2012 Toyota Highlander Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Toyota Highlander was new.


Interior: 8.0

Reviewers say the 2012 Toyota Highlander’s cabin is comfortable, spacious and intuitive. Plus, they say it uses relatively high-quality interior materials.

  • "The 2012 Toyota Highlander features one of the better-looking cabins in the segment, and this is especially true of the top-of-the-line Limited model.” -- Edmunds
  • The Base model's interior is fitted with above-average-grade plastics and comfortable cloth upholstery. Only the fuzzy headliner feels cheap. Most other Highlanders have good-quality leather and metal-look trim throughout the cabin. The Limited's interior adds some unconvincing faux wood.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Inconsistent cabin materials.” -- Cars.com


The Toyota Highlander has standard seating for seven passengers in three rows of seats. Testers say the front seats are plenty comfortable, and that the second row is fit for adults. Though some complain that the third row is cramped, this is common for many vehicles in the class. In spite of this, almost every reviewer loves the third-row access thanks to a sliding and folding second-row bench seat.

  • "On the plus side, the Highlander's second-row bench slides fore and aft to alter the ratio of legroom to cargo capacity, and the seat also reclines for greater comfort. This seat's unique 40/20/40-split design, which has a removable center section that stows neatly in a special compartment beneath the center console, makes it easy to access the way-back bench even with a pair of child car seats strapped into the second row.” -- Edmunds
  • “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. Only the passenger side of the 2nd-row seat moves forward to allow 3rd-row access, though kids could get back there by climbing through the passageway between the 2nd-row seats.” -- Consumer Guide

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 SE and Limited models. However, make sure to consider the options packages carefully, since the packages can get expensive and cause the Highlander’s reasonable base price to skyrocket.

Test drivers say that most of the controls are well laid-out and easy to use, although one mentions that the navigation isn’t quite so simple.

  • "Gauges and controls boast a familiar and straightforward layout, making then a cinch to use.” -- Edmunds
  • "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 some audio-system adjustments.” -- Consumer Guide


Overall cargo space in the 2012 Highlander may be impressive, but space with all three rows in use doesn't measure up to top rivals. The Highlander can hold a maximum of 95.4 cubic feet of cargo with the second and third rows folded, though reviewers note that the load floor isn’t quite flat. With the third row in use, it provides just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo space, which is one of the smallest in the class.

Small storage areas are a high point for the Highlander. Features include a center console with plenty of cubbies for small items. Two-row models also get an under-floor storage compartment in the cargo area. Second-row seat one-touch fold-flat levers are standard on all models.

  • "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
  • "When you have cargo to haul, the Highlander offers 95.4 cubic feet of space with the second- and third-row seatbacks folded down. It's a robust figure and better than many competitors, but GM's full-size crossovers offer even more.” -- Edmunds
  • Fold all the seats down, and the Highlander's 95.4 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume is class-competitive. With the second and third rows up, however, there's just 10.3 cubic feet of cargo volume -- small for this league." -- Cars.com

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