$26,706 - $37,016

2017 Toyota Highlander Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2017 Toyota Highlander was new.

Scorecard

Interior: 8.4

The interior of the 2017 Toyota Highlander shows off its familial link to its upscale sister brand with high-grade materials and an abundance of features that give this midsize SUV a Lexus-like quality. A plethora of standard tech and safety features, along with two rows of roomy, enjoyable seats, add to the Highlander's appeal. The rear quarters are the bane of the Highlander: Its third row is cramped, and the fixed cargo hold is middling.

  • "The best part of the 2017 Highlander appears to be what was left unchanged: its remarkably well-considered interior packaging. Abundant headroom, legroom, shoulder room, and cargo room are complemented by numerous clever storage options, such as the uniquely useful door-to-door dash-mounted shelf and a sizeable center console that Rechtin reckoned 'can fit a medium-size dog-much less your purse, or your dog inside your purse.'" -- Motor Trend
  • "Step into the new Highlander and you'll find a comfortable driving position; refreshingly straightforward controls that are logically located, clearly marked and intuitively functional; and plenty of attention to detail as far as utility is concerned. All of this simplicity is rendered in a pleasing design comprised of appealing materials." -- New York Daily News
  • "The Limited and Limited Platinum trims are offered with a new tan leather option that Toyota says is taken straight from Lexus. That makes sense, as it's some of the nicest seating material I've seen and felt in a non-luxury vehicle." -- Cars.com

Seating

The base trim level for the 2017 Highlander seats eight, with bench seats in the second and third row. Both seats have a 60/40 split, can fold flat, and can recline for improved passenger comfort. The second-row seats also slide. The XLE, SE, Limited, and Limited Platinum editions seat seven and come standard with captain's chairs in the second row, though this can be switched out in the Limited and Limited Platinum for a bench seat. The Highlander's seats provide a good amount of room and comfort, unless you're riding in the third-row seat. Here, larger passengers will be uncomfortable with a below-average amount of legroom.

Upholstery options include cloth fabric (which is standard), synthetic leather, basic leather, and perforated leather. Heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats (only outboard seats are heated in the available bench seat), and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat are also available.

There are LATCH systems installed in both the second and third rows, but car seat installation is much more difficult in the third row due to the tighter space. However, the two sets of lower anchors found in the second-row outboard seats are easy to access since the row can slide back.

  • "Although the 2017's dimensions are identical to last year's, there's a change in the seating area that makes the Highlander more flexible: an additional 1.4 inches of forward and back travel for the sliding second row. Not only does this make the third row easier to access, it also offers extra third-row legroom that was sorely lacking in the previous year's model. I set the driver's seat in my driving position (I'm almost 6 feet tall) and moved the second-row seat forward as far as possible while still giving my knees space. When I jumped back into the third row, I was pleasantly surprised — it felt like there was more room than in the previous-generation Highlander. There is still a high floor, which elevates your knees a bit, so I still wouldn't recommend the third row to a grown-up for a road trip." -- Cars.com
  • A brief ride in the second-row seat proved the Highlander to be comfortable and roomy. Foot space is a little tight beneath the front seats, and thigh support is a bit lacking, but otherwise passengers should voice few complaints, especially given the triple-zone climate control system that provides separate temperature adjustment." -- New York Daily News
  • The mechanical recline-and-slide second-row unit for third-row access works pretty well. The furthermost back seat is extremely low, forcing my knees up very high, and I must have the center second-row seat moved well forward on its track to accommodate me—this is a child seat. But at least each child gets an overhead air-conditioning vent. Oh, sorry, not the poor kid stuck in the middle. Yes, they expect three people to sit on this third-row bench. … The second row is enormous, with my only complaint being that the seats are mounted so low to the floor. That said, there's a space between the two captain's chairs to walk into the third row." -- Motor Trend

Interior Features

Toyota's Entune interface powers the Highlander's infotainment system and comes with five USB ports, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, and six speakers. This system is straightforward once you are familiar with it, though it peculiarly lacks a shortcut button to the navigation system (which is standard in every Highlander except the base LE trim). The Highlander comes standard with a 6.1-inch touch screen, and an 8-inch touch screen is available. Other knobs and buttons are easy to reach, say reviewers, who also praise the Highlander's uncluttered layout.

Additional standard features include heated mirrors, forward collision warning and braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams. Available features include smartphone integration, satellite radio, HD Radio, a 12-speaker JBL audio system, tri-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic moonroof, a leather wrapped steering wheel, a proximity key, push-button start, a 120-volt household-style outlet, Driver Easy Speak, a height-adjustable power liftgate, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors.

See 2017 Toyota Highlander specs »

  • "Simplicity rules within the 2017 Toyota Highlander. All controls are located where you might reasonably expect to find them, are clearly marked, and are sized for ease of use. Knobs control the stereo and the climate system, and except for functions embedded into the touch-screen infotainment screen, buttons and switches handle remaining functions. The only thing missing here is a direct button for calling up the available navigation system. Instrumentation is large and legibly rendered, the gauges separated by a driver information center with numerous programmable settings for various vehicle functions. Sometimes operation of this screen is not intuitive, but it doesn't take long to figure things out." -- J.D. Power
  • While the new driver information display screen occasionally proves confusing when making adjustments to settings, once you've adjusted all of its features and functions to your liking you won't interact with it much. The touchscreen infotainment system similarly challenges a user on occasion; its most egregious sin is the lack of a 'Nav' button supplying one-touch access to the map display." -- New York Daily News
  • "The Highlander has some very family-friendly features, including a storage shelf that extends from beneath the center display to the passenger door above the glove compartment – perfect for phones and sunglasses – as well as five USB ports (three up front and two in the second row), some only for device-charging purposes. There are also two 12-volt outlets, so as long as you have enough cables, that should be enough to keep all of the devices powered." -- Cars.com

Cargo

There is 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row of the 2017 Highlander. That's about average for a 3-row SUV, though you'll find more in the Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder.

If you want to expand your cargo capacity, the second- and third-row bench seats both have a 60/40 split, and fold flat. This creates 42.3 cubic feet of space with the third-row seats folded (which is average) and a slightly above-average total capacity of 83.7 cubic feet. No power-folding seats are available, but a height-adjustable power liftgate is.

  • Naturally, cargo space behind the third-row seat is nearly non-existent at 13.8 cubic-feet when measured to the roof. Fold it, and you've got a generous 42.3 cu.-ft. at your disposal. Maximum volume measures 83.2 cu.-ft." -- New York Daily News
  • "Given the Highlander's mission as a family-friendly vehicle, it offers generous in-cabin storage space. One of the more interesting details is a shelf that runs across a significant portion of the dashboard." -- J.D. Power

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