$23,826 - $34,855

2016 Toyota Highlander Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2016 Toyota Highlander was new.

Scorecard

Interior: 8.5

The 2016 Toyota Highlander has an impressive cabin according to reviewers, who appreciate its premium materials, noise reduction, and overall handsome design. They also are impressed by the inclusion of user-friendly technology and a smart dash layout. The Highlander's first- and second-row seats are spacious, critics report. They say its third-row seats are cramped for adults but OK for kids. Overall cargo capacity is decent for the class, and reviewers love the large storage bins around the cabin.

  • "In our interior evaluation, the 2015 Highlander gets high marks for dashboard design and materials quality, especially compared to the previous model. Toyota clearly sweated the details this time around, and the result is a palpably premium environment, even in the lower trim levels. The gap between Toyota and Lexus has narrowed considerably here, which is good, because the Highlander actually costs as much as a Lexus if you want all the fixings." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "Inside, the cabin is fitted with appealing materials in available two-tone color combinations, and many surfaces are padded." -- Consumer Guide (2014)
  • "Toyota has also improved the Highlander's noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) so that road and wind noise are minimal. It's a very pleasant, near-luxury experience. Honestly, if I was blindfolded and told I was behind the wheel of a Lexus crossover, I'd probably believe it." -- Autoblog (2014)

Seating

The 2016 Toyota Highlander seats eight and comes standard with cloth upholstery and sliding second-row seats. Available features include leatherette or leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row captain’s chairs, which reduce the seating capacity to seven.

Test drivers report that the Highlander's front- and second-row seats are roomy and easy to step into. Most agree that the third row is too small for adults, but critics say kids will find plenty of space. Reviewers also note that the third row is easy to access thanks to the sliding second-row seats.

  • "If you're expecting big-time space in the way back, we should warn you that adults will still find it cramped relative to some rivals. Kids will be fine, though, and the three-across seating bolsters the Highlander's credentials as a minivan substitute." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "In back, the second-row seats slide forward farther than before, making third-row access appreciably easier. It's still pretty cramped back there for adults, but the new 3-across bench means that you can carry an extra kid if necessary." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "Headroom and legroom are ample in the 1st and 2nd rows, the latter aided by seats that slide fore and aft about five inches. Getting in or out of either is easy due to a relatively low step-in height." -- Consumer Guide (2014)

Interior Features

Standard features in the 2016 Toyota Highlander include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a USB port and Toyota's Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touch screen. Options include a panoramic moonroof, navigation, a JBL audio system, an upgraded Entune system with an 8-inch touch screen, a rear-seat Blu-Ray video system, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. 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.

Overall, reviewers say the Highlander's dashboard controls are easy to use. They like that major audio and climate controls are separate from the touch screen. Some critics point out that you have to go through multiple steps to change settings on the touch screen, but they say it's easy once you get used to it. A few auto writers note that Driver Easy Speak is a useful feature for families.

See 2016 Toyota Highlander specs »

  • "A horizontal theme pervades, drawing your eyes from either end to the centralized multimedia screen. There, you'll find easy-to-use controls, including knobs for the main radio functions, and for the climate controls below them." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "My favorite new feature on the Highlander is Driver Easy Speak. When it's engaged, the driver's voice is projected through the speakers, allowing him or her to scream at the kids all the way in the back when they start putting food in each other's hair. It saves strain on one's vocal cords and really gets the message across to the little ones, especially if the vehicle is equipped with the optional JBL speakers." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • Still, the Toyota interface sometimes requires multiple touches to get the system to do what you want; once you adjust, it's easy to toggle through the screens for tasks like setting the navigation system. There are also plenty of old-fashioned, easy-to-use knobs for things like temperature control." -- Automobile Magazine (2014)

Cargo

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.

Test drivers like the Highlander's variable, available power liftgate, which adjusts to accommodate garage ceilings and users’ heights. Many reviewers also point out that the Highlander has an abundance of small-item storage compartments in the cabin, including a large glovebox and center console.

  • "On the cargo-carrying front, the available height-adjustable power liftgate with memory height settings is a boon in garages with low ceilings." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Storage is terrific, with a good-size glovebox, a huge two-tiered console box, two cupholders and a forward console bin (the latter with USB/aux/12-volt jacks), a drop-down left-side bin, and a handy (and unusual) mid-level dash tray." -- Consumer Guide (2014)
  • "At least the third row can easily fold down in a 60/40 split and there's a one-touch power liftgate with selectable memory height settings, a super feature for people of shorter stature." -- Autoblog (2014)
  • "Fifty-eight juice boxes can fit into the center console of the 2014 Toyota Highlander. If you filled every seat of the eight-passenger SUV, everyone could have seven drinks, with a couple left over." -- Automobile Magazine (2014)

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