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2015 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2015 Toyota Highlander's refined cabin, smooth ride, and strong engine help it finish in the top half of the midsize SUV class. This a competitive class, however, and many rivals have higher reliability ratings, better safety scores, and roomier third rows.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale interior
  • Composed ride
  • Strong available V6 engine
  • Cramped third row

Rankings & Awards

The 2015 Toyota Highlander's #6 ranking is based on its score within the 2015 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. It was the winner of our 2015 Best 3-Row SUV for Families award and a finalist for our 2015 Best 3-Row SUV for the Money award. Currently the Toyota Highlander has a score of 8.1 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 29 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 8.1
Interior: 8.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.6
Safety: 9.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2015 Toyota Highlander Overview

Is the 2015 Toyota Highlander a Good Used SUV?

Yes, the 2015 Highlander is a good used midsize SUV. It rides smoothly, gets decent gas mileage, and offers a potent V6 engine. Inside, it's well-built and features a user-friendly infotainment system. There’s also room for up to eight people, and cargo space is plentiful. The third row is a bit cramped, but the same is true of many other three-row SUVs.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our Toyota Highlander review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 29 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, we never accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2015 Toyota Highlander?

Based on more than 2,600 listings on our site, the average price for the 2015 Toyota Highlander is $29,100. Prices range from $23,600 to $34,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s mileage, condition, location, and features.

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How Much Does the 2015 Toyota Highlander Cost to Own?

Expenses for fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs for the 2015 Highlander are estimated to be around $26,000 over five years, or about $5,200 per year. Compared to others in the class, this is slightly below average.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Toyota Highlander?

With an average list price of $29,300, the 2015 Highlander will save you around a couple thousand compared with the 2019 Highlander's base model. They have the same base powertrain, but the 2019 model comes standard comes with Toyota Safety Sense P, a suite of driver assistance features that includes automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. The new model also offers an eight-speed automatic transmission and a more powerful V6 than the 2015. If you can afford it, the 2019 is a better buy.

Read about the new Highlander »

There are several new midsize SUVs with starting prices that are in the 2015 Highlander's price range, including the 2019 Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-9, and Subaru Ascent. In general, these models bring more to the table than a used Highlander, including a longer list of infotainment and active safety features, as well as fresher interior styling. As such, it's probably a better idea to spring for a new midsize SUV instead of a 2015 Highlander.

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Which Model Year of the Toyota Highlander Is Best?

The 2015 Toyota Highlander is part of the SUV's third generation, which launched for 2014. There were no significant changes to the Highlander for the 2015 model year. In fact, following the redesign, there were no notable updates until the 2017 model year, when Toyota introduced a more powerful V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and new standard driver assistance features like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and more. If you aren't interested in any of those 2017 updates, take your pick of models from the three previous years, which are all essentially the same.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Highlander »

How Reliable Is the 2015 Toyota Highlander?

J.D. Power gives the 2015 Highlander a reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Highlander reliability »

2015 Toyota Highlander Recalls

As of this writing, two recalls have been issued for the 2015 Highlander. One involves water leakage with certain replacement windshields, and the other addresses an unexpected loss of power steering. Before buying this vehicle, make sure these recalls have been addressed.

See more information on Toyota Highlander safety recalls »

Which Used Toyota Highlander Model Is Right for Me?

The 2015 Toyota Highlander comes in five trims: LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. There is also a Toyota Highlander Hybrid model, which we cover in a separate review.

The best model to choose is the XLE. It upgrades the infotainment system to the 8-inch touch screen with navigation and adds push-button start, heated front seats, a height-adjustable power liftgate, and a moonroof.

See 2015 Toyota Highlander trims and specs »

What Does Toyota's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Toyota offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 85,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Toyota provides a one-year/12,000-mile limited warranty on all its certified pre-owned vehicles, and it extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the initial sale date or 100,000 miles. Each CPO Toyota must pass a 160-point inspection. Additional benefits like a CarFax vehicle history report, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Toyota warranty page carefully.

Toyota’s CPO program is about average for an affordable carmaker, according to our research. Hyundai and Kia both have better programs.

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How Safe Is the Highlander?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2015 Highlander an overall rating of five out of five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2015 Highlander a Top Safety Pick+, the organization’s highest award. The IIHS also gave it the highest rating of Good in four crash tests.

The Highlander comes standard with a rearview camera. Available features include lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring.

See Highlander safety scores »

2015 Toyota Highlander Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2015 Toyota Highlander or 2015 Honda Pilot?

The 2015 Honda Pilot certainly has its selling points. Its standard V6 engine is stronger than the Highlander's four-cylinder base engine (but weaker than the Toyota's available V6). The Honda also has a little more cargo space, a roomier third row, and a larger standard infotainment screen than the Toyota. However, the Highlander is a better SUV overall. It offers a much nicer interior with more features, including a rear-seat entertainment system, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning.

Which Is Better: 2015 Toyota Highlander or 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe?

The Hyundai Santa Fe is stylish and comfortable, and it’s a better SUV than the Highlander. The Santa Fe is comparable to the Highlander when it comes to cargo space and features availability. Each vehicle has a base four-cylinder engine (the Santa Fe’s is turbocharged) and an available V6. The Santa Fe also has a better reliability rating than the Highlander, rounding out the reasons why the Hyundai is the better choice of the two.

Which Is Better: 2015 Toyota Highlander or 2015 Chevrolet Traverse?

The Chevrolet Traverse has significantly more cargo space than the Highlander (and almost every other midsize SUV). It also features three rows of spacious seats and an upscale cabin. The Traverse comes standard with a V6 engine, but it fails to impress in some situations, such as passing other vehicles on the highway. It also can't quite reach the Highlander's fuel economy. Still, the Traverse is a better SUV with a perfect reliability rating.

Compare the Highlander, Pilot, and Santa Fe »

2015 Highlander Performance

How Does the 2015 Toyota Highlander Drive?

The Highlander comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 185 horsepower. For more pep, you can upgrade to a 270-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The base engine delivers ample power for most driving situations, but the V6 feels livelier and makes the Highlander more enjoyable to drive. The smooth-shifting transmission pairs well with both engines.

Whether you stick with the standard front-wheel drive or opt for all-wheel drive, this Toyota SUV rides smoothly. It's poised on winding roads, though it lacks the agility of rivals like the Mazda CX-9.

Does the 2015 Toyota Highlander Get Good Gas Mileage?

With its base engine, the Highlander gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, which are good ratings for a midsize SUV. With the V6 engine, the Highlander's ratings are only slightly worse, at 19/25 mpg city/highway.

Read more about Highlander performance »

2015 Highlander Interior

How Many People Does the 2015 Highlander Seat?

The 2015 Highlander seats eight people across three rows in its base configuration, and available second-row captain's chairs drop the seating capacity to seven. Cloth upholstery comes standard. Leather upholstery is available, as are heated and ventilated front seats.

The first two rows of seats have plenty of head- and legroom, and the second row slides forward to make it easy to climb in and out of the third row. Like many three-row SUVs, the Highlander doesn't have enough third-row space for adults to ride comfortably.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2015 Toyota Highlander?

The 2015 Toyota Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for installing child car seats. There’s also a tether-only connection for two other seats. The system received the second-lowest rating of Marginal for ease of use from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The lower anchors are set too deep in the seats, and some of the tether anchors can be confused with other hardware.

2015 Toyota Highlander Features

The Highlander comes standard with Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, and a USB port.

Available features include a panoramic moonroof, a Blu-Ray rear-seat entertainment system, and an upgraded Entune infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, and a 12-speaker JBL audio system. The Highlander also offers Driver Easy Speak, which uses a microphone to project the driver's voice through the speakers to make it easier for rear rows to hear what you’re saying.

See 2015 Toyota Highlander specs »

Read more about Highlander interior »

2015 Toyota Highlander Dimensions

Toyota Highlander Cargo Space

The 2015 Highlander provides 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seats, 42.3 cubic feet behind the second-row seats, and 83.7 cubic feet behind the front seats.

2015 Highlander Length and Weight

The 2015 Highlander is just under 16 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,134 to 4,508 pounds.

Where Was the 2015 Toyota Highlander Built?

Toyota assembled the 2015 Highlander in Indiana.

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Highlander Shoppers Should Also Consider...

Chevrolet Traverse 2015 2015 Chevrolet Traverse

#1 in 2015 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Buick Enclave 2015 2015 Buick Enclave

#2 in 2015 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Hyundai Santa Fe 2015 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe

#2 in 2015 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Ford Edge 2015 2015 Ford Edge

#4 in 2015 Affordable Midsize SUVs

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