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2016 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2016 Toyota Highlander ranks in the top half of the midsize SUV class, thanks in part to its upscale, spacious cabin. However, its base engine is underpowered, and many rivals earn higher reliability ratings.

Pros & Cons

  • Strong available V6
  • Composed ride and handling
  • Top-notch cabin materials
  • Third-row seats are not adult-friendly
  • Some ownership costs are high

Rankings & Awards

The 2016 Toyota Highlander's #6 ranking is based on its score within the 2016 Affordable Midsize SUVs category. It was a finalist for our 2016 Best 3-Row SUV for Families award. Currently the Toyota Highlander has a score of 8.2 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 29 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.3
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 8.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.7
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Toyota Highlander Overview

Is the 2016 Toyota Highlander a Good Used SUV?

The 2016 Toyota Highlander is a good midsize SUV. It has tons of space for both passengers and cargo, and it offers plenty of standard high-tech features, including a 6.1-inch touch screen and Bluetooth for phone calls and music streaming. Lots of safety features are available too. It's not all good news for this Toyota, though, as some ownership costs are high for the class, and the third row is not adult-friendly.

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 29 professional evaluations for this 2016 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 2016 Toyota Highlander?

Our site has more than 1,600 listings for the 2016 Highlander, with prices ranging from $26,900 to $39,700. The average cost is $33,700. Prices vary depending on the vehicle's condition, mileage, features, and location.

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How Much Does the 2016 Toyota Highlander Cost to Own?

Estimated five-year costs for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs for the 2016 Highlander are $25,290. That’s more than you can expect to pay for many other 2016 midsize SUVs. The 2016 Nissan Murano, for example, has estimated upkeep costs of $23,750 over five years. The 2016 Ford Edge is projected to cost $23,271.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Highlander?

The new 2018 Toyota Highlander with a four-cylinder engine starts at $31,030. Add the V6 engine, and the price climbs to $33,080, while the top-of-the-line Limited Platinum trim raises the 2018 Highlander’s price north of $46,600. The new Highlander comes with more standard safety features than the 2016 Highlander, as well as a slightly redesigned exterior and interior.

You can probably get a 2016 Highlander (which has a price range of $26,000 to $37,900) for less. Unless you are charmed by the 2018 model’s modest changes in look, or you really want the additional standard safety features, the 2016 is a better bet.

Read about the new Toyota Highlander »

You won’t find a new midsize SUV with a similar price to the used 2016 Highlander. Drop down to a compact SUV instead, and you’ll find several good options. The 2018 Hyundai Tucson with the available 2.4-liter engine starts at $25,150 and comes with a range of standard features. The 2018 Chevy Equinox (MSRP $23,580) also has a long list of standard features, and the 2018 Honda CR-V (MSRP $24,250) has lots of cargo space.

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How Reliable Is the 2016 Toyota Highlander?

The 2016 Toyota Highlander has a reliability rating of three out of five, which is average for the industry.

Read more about Highlander reliability »

2016 Toyota Highlander Recalls

As of this writing, the 2016 Highlander has three recalls. One addresses the brake fluid level sensor, another deals with an incorrect load-carrying-capacity label, and the third recall concerns water entering a wire harness and stalling the engine.

See more information on Toyota Highlander safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the Toyota Highlander Is Best?

The 2016 Highlander is part of a generation that launched in 2014. While the 2013 model will save you a lot of money, you won’t get the many benefits of the new generation, like seating for eight, a quieter ride, and an interior filled with soft-touch materials. There were few changes to the SUV between 2014 and 2016, which means you can get a similar 2014 or 2015 model for thousands of dollars less than the 2016 Highlander. Still, we recommend the 2016 model. If you purchase a V6 model, the towing package is standard.

If you don’t mind paying a few thousand dollars more, the 2017 Highlander is worth consideration. A number of previously optional active safety features are now standard. The V6 gets a bit more power, too – an additional 25 horsepower. However, the model doesn’t get a boost in towing capacity.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Highlander »

Which Used Toyota Highlander Model Is Right for Me?

The 2016 Highlander has five trims: LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. Toyota also has the Highlander Hybrid, which we review separately. If you want all-wheel drive or plan to tow, you'll want to look for a Highlander model with the V6 engine – these include a heavy-duty towing package and are the only models available with AWD.

One of the best values in the Highlander lineup is the LE Plus trim. It comes with tri-zone automatic climate control, seats trimmed with synthetic leather, navigation, a flip-up rear hatch window (for quick and easy access to the back), and an adjustable power liftgate.

See 2016 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 2016 Highlander has a respectable safety score. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a 2016 Top Safety Pick+ and gave it the highest rating of Good in five tests. It also earned the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. Models equipped with the available pre-collision system earned the second-highest rating of Advanced for front crash prevention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave this vehicle an overall rating of five out of five stars. The Highlander received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the rollover and frontal crash tests.

The Highlander has a bevy of driver assistance features, though most are only available in the higher trims. A rearview camera is the only standard driver assistance feature in the 2016 Highlander. Available features include adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision braking system, lane departure warning, and blind spot monitoring.

See Highlander safety scores »

2016 Toyota Highlander Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 Toyota Highlander or 2016 Honda Pilot?

The 2016 Honda Pilot and the Highlander are both decent midsize SUVs, and they stand neck and neck in our rankings. The Honda has a little more third-row legroom than the Toyota, as well as a lower average price by around $1,700. On the other hand, the Toyota has a longer list of standard features. Both vehicles have similar tow ratings, cargo holds, and upscale cabin materials. Choosing the right one comes down to your personal preference.

Which Is Better: 2016 Toyota Highlander or 2016 Toyota 4Runner?

Whether the 2016 Highlander or 2016 Toyota 4Runner is better for you depends mostly on one key element: where your travels tend to take you. If the answer includes rugged terrain, then you'll want the 4Runner. It's one of the most capable off-road SUVs on the market, and Trail and TRD Pro trims have extra four-wheel-drive components that ratchet up the off-roading fun. For those who tend to stick to pavement-only excursions, the Highlander offers a smoother ride, a classier cabin, and better fuel economy.

Compare the Highlander, Pilot, and 4Runner »

2016 Highlander Performance

How Does the 2016 Toyota Highlander Drive?

A 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine comes standard in the Highlander, and a 270-horsepower V6 engine is available. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The four-cylinder doesn't move the Highlander with as much enthusiasm as the V6, and the fuel economy savings with the four-cylinder engine are almost negligible.

The 2016 Highlander has responsive handling compared to the class as a whole, though it isn't quite as agile as more sport-oriented midsize SUVs, like the 2016 Mazda CX-9. The Highlander comes standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available in V6-equipped models.

Does the 2016 Toyota Highlander Get Good Gas Mileage?

The four-cylinder Highlander earns an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Many four-cylinder rivals offer similar fuel economy but deliver more horsepower. The V6 Highlander gets 19/25 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive, and 18/24 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive, which is typical for the class. The 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is reviewed separately.

2016 Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity

The four-cylinder Highlander engine has a tow rating of 1,500 pounds, while the V6 engine has a 5,000-pound tow rating. The V6 Highlanders come standard with a tow package that includes heavy-duty engine and transmission cooling.

Read more about Highlander performance »

2016 Highlander Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 Highlander Seat?

The Highlander is one of the few midsize SUVs capable of seating up to eight people. Step-in height is low, and although there’s plenty of space in the first two rows, the third row can be tight. Adults can squeeze in back there, but it’s better suited for kids. The sliding second-row seats make it easy to get into the third row.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 Toyota Highlander?

For installing child safety seats, the Highlander has three complete sets of LATCH connectors for each of the three second-row seats. There is also a tether-only connection for the third row. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 Highlander's LATCH system the second-lowest rating of Marginal for ease of use. The anchors are too deep in the seats, maneuvering around the hardware is cumbersome, and other seat hardware could be mistaken for an anchor.

2016 Toyota Highlander Features

Standard features in the 2016 Toyota Highlander include Bluetooth, a USB port, and Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touch screen. Available features include navigation, a JBL audio system, an upgraded Entune system with an 8-inch touch screen, and a rear-seat Blu-Ray video system. The Highlander is also available with a feature called Driver Easy Speak, which projects the driver's voice over the speakers to people in the rear rows.

The Highlander's dashboard controls are easy to use with the important audio and climate controls separate from the touch screen. You do have to go through multiple steps to change settings on the touch screen, but it's easy once you get used to it.

See 2016 Toyota Highlander specs »

Read more about Highlander interior »

2016 Toyota Highlander Dimensions

Toyota Highlander Cargo Space

The 2016 Toyota Highlander has 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, all of which are typical for a three-row midsize SUV. A height-adjustable power liftgate is available, which adjusts to accommodate garage ceilings and users’ heights. The Highlander has an abundance of small-item storage compartments in the cabin, including a large glovebox and center console.

2016 Highlander Length and Weight

The 2016 Highlander measures 15.9 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from a low of 4,134 pounds (four-cylinder model) to a high of 4,508 pounds (V6 Limited with all-wheel drive). The gross vehicle weight rating is 5,665 pounds for the four-cylinder version, 5,840 pounds for the front-wheel-drive Highlander with the V6, and 6,000 pounds for the all-wheel-drive V6 Highlander.

Where Was the 2016 Toyota Highlander Built?

The 2016 Highlander was built in Indiana.

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