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8.3

Overall

Scorecard

Overall: 8.3
Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.4
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Toyota Highlander Review

The 2018 Toyota Highlander ranks in the top third of the midsize SUV class, thanks to its upscale cabin, strong available V6 engine, and cushioned ride.

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful V6 engine option
  • Elegant cabin
  • Long list of standard safety features
  • Weak four-cylinder base engine
  • Body roll when rounding corners

Is the 2018 Toyota Highlander a Good Used SUV?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander is a very good used midsize SUV. It comes with more standard safety features than many rivals, and its high-end cabin and cushioned ride make it comfortable for long trips. The available V6 engine is better than the underpowered base four-cylinder, especially if you plan to regularly haul people or cargo. While you may find rivals with sharper handling and more overall space, the Highlander remains a top pick among three-row SUVs.

The Highlander has a number of strengths:

  • Abundance of standard driver assistance features
  • Attractive, high-end cabin
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating
  • Powerful available V6 engine
  • Comfortable ride

The Highlander is not without drawbacks, however:

  • A weak four-cylinder base engine
  • Less handling composed handling than rivals
  • A learning curve with infotainment system
  • No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration
Why You Can Trust Us

Our Toyota Highlander review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 45 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 a combined 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 2018 Toyota Highlander?

There are about 525 listings for the 2018 Toyota Highlander on our site, with an average list price of $32,400. Prices range from $26,000 to $40,900 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Toyota Highlander Cost to Own?

The 2018 Highlander’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $25,170, or $5,030 per year. That’s about average for the class.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Highlander?

The 2019 Toyota Highlander received only minor updates, the most notable of which is new exterior styling. It’s otherwise the same as the 2018 model. By purchasing the 2018 model, you will probably save a few thousand dollars, and you won’t have to sacrifice much in the way of features or performance.

Read about the new Toyota Highlander »

The 2018 Highlander is part of a generation that debuted for 2014. Buying an older model will save you money, be we recommend purchasing a Highlander from 2017 or later. It received a midgeneration refresh, which included updated styling, the availability of a new engine, and a new transmission. The Toyota Safety Sense system also became standard. This suite of standard safety features includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, forward collision warning and braking, and pedestrian detection. The 2018 model did not see major changes.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Highlander »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Toyota Highlander?

The Toyota Highlander has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Read more about Highlander reliability »

2018 Toyota Highlander Recalls

At the time of writing, three recalls have been issued for the 2018 Toyota Highlander:

  • Water may enter vehicle through the windshield
  • Brake assist vacuum pump may fail
  • Incorrect load information on label

Before buying any used vehicle, make sure all recalls have been addressed.

See more information on Toyota Highlander safety recalls »

Which Used Toyota Highlander Trim Is Right for Me?

Five trims are available: LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, and Limited. We review the Toyota Highlander Hybrid separately.

The base model Highlander LE comes decked out with advanced safety features and more technology than many of its rivals. The only downside is its underpowered base engine.

If you regularly plan to carry several people or a good amount of cargo, we suggest selecting an upper trim with the stronger V6. The mid-level Highlander XLE trim is the best value. It offers the most significant comfort and technology upgrades, while the two highest trims don’t give you much more for the money.

  • Toyota Highlander LE: The base trim comes with a 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth, five USB ports, and voice recognition. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. This trim has cloth upholstery, a second-row bench seat, and seating for eight.
  • Toyota Highlander LE Plus: The LE Plus trim adds cloth and synthetic-leather seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, tri-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, HD Radio, smartphone-linked navigation, an 8-inch touch screen, and a power liftgate.
  • Toyota Highlander XLE: The XLE trim adds leather upholstery and comes with second-row captain’s chairs, which reduce seating from eight to seven. This trim also adds leather first- and second-row seats, third-row seats with synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a moonroof, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, Driver Easy Speak, integrated navigation, the Entune app suite, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. A rear-seat Blu-ray DVD entertainment system is available.
  • Toyota Highlander SE: The SE gains exterior and interior upgrades like roof rails and ambient lighting. It also features a sport-tuned suspension.
  • Toyota Highlander Limited: The Limited adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. It’s available with a panoramic moonroof, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, front parking sensors, and a surround-view parking camera.

See 2018 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’s 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 or 100,000 miles. Each CPO Toyota must pass a 160-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Toyota warranty page carefully.

Toyota has a decent CPO program, based on our analysis. However, you might find more CPO program benefits from automakers like Honda and Hyundai.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the Toyota certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the Highlander?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the 2018 Toyota Highlander a Top Safety Pick and gave it the highest rating of Good in five out of six crash tests. It received the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test, the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention, and the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well the headlights illuminate the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Highlander an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, as well as five stars in the side crash test. It received four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • forward collision warning
  • automatic emergency braking
  • pedestrian detection
  • lane departure warning
  • lane keep assist
  • automatic high beams
  • adaptive cruise control

Available advanced safety features:

  • front and rear parking sensors
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • surround-view parking camera

See Highlander safety scores »

2018 Toyota Highlander Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Toyota Highlander or 2018 Honda Pilot?

If you have concerns about space in the Highlander, consider the 2018 Honda Pilot. It’s one of the only midsize SUVs with an adult-friendly third row. Behind that third row, the Pilot has a few more cubic feet of storage space than the Highlander. That said, the Toyota takes the cake when it comes to features. With the Pilot, you get a powerful V6 base engine. However, you’ll need to purchase an upper trim to get many features that the Highlander comes standard with, including a touch screen and several driver assistance features. If you need power and space more than you need features, choose the Honda. If you’d prefer an SUV with a higher predicted reliability rating and an upscale cabin with latest technology, go with the Toyota.

Which Is Better: 2018 Toyota Highlander or 2018 Mazda CX-9?

The 2018 Mazda CX-9 excels where the Highlander falls short. The CX-9 has surprisingly sharp handling and little body roll for a three-row SUV. Both vehicles have a good number of safety features and handsome cabins made with high-end materials. Unfortunately, both have weak four-cylinder base engines, and the CX-9 doesn’t have an available engine with more punch. On the other hand, the Highlander has lackluster handling, but it’s available with a muscular V6 engine. In the end, it’s a choice between power and poise.

Compare the Highlander, Pilot, and CX-9 »

2018 Highlander Performance

How Does the 2018 Toyota Highlander Drive?

The 2018 Toyota Highlander’s base engine feels sluggish, especially when the vehicle is loaded with passengers and cargo. The available V6 engine provides more muscle for reaching highway speeds, but it doesn’t remedy the SUVs slow acceleration from a dead stop. Driving dynamics are equally unimpressive, with lots of body roll and limited steering feedback around corners. That said, the suspension remains comfortable over most surfaces.

  • Base engine: 185-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder
  • Available engine: 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive with V6 engine
  • Transmission: standard six-speed automatic with base; available eight-speed automatic with V6 engine
2018 Toyota Highlander Towing Capacity

The Highlander tow up to 5,000 pounds, when properly equipped.

Does the 2018 Toyota Highlander Get Good Gas Mileage?

Both of the Highlander’s engine options return decent gas mileage for the class. The V6-powered front-wheel-drive models come with a stop-start function for better fuel efficiency.

  • Four-cylinder, FWD: 20/24 mpg city/ highway
  • V6, FWD: 20/27 mpg city/ highway
  • V6, AWD: 19/26 mpg city/highway

Read more about Highlander performance »

2018 Highlander Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Highlander Seat?

There are seats for eight with the standard second-row bench. The available second-row captain’s chairs reduce seating to seven. The first two rows have comfortable seats and plenty of room. Like most three-row SUVs, however, the Highlander’s third row has just enough space for children but is cramped for adults. The Highlander’s handsome cabin is replete with first-rate materials. Upper trims feature rich materials suitable for luxury vehicles.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth seats

Available seating features:

  • synthetic leather upholstery
  • genuine leather upholstery for first- and second-row seats
  • an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
  • a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat
  • a heated steering wheel
  • a leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • heated front seats
  • heated second-row seats
  • ventilated front seats
How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Toyota Highlander?

The Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors in its second row. There's a top tether anchor for the middle seat (if you have the bench) and another tether anchor for the third-row middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this LATCH system the highest rating of Good for its ease of use.

2018 Toyota Highlander Features

The dashboard features several buttons and knobs surrounding the infotainment display, allowing you to quickly access common functions without using the touch screen. While these controls are easy to operate, some can be difficult to reach. It may also take some time to learn and navigate through the infotainment system’s menus. Additionally, like many Toyota and Lexus vehicles from 2018, the Highlander doesn't offer Android Auto or Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.1-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, five USB ports, and voice recognition
  • Available infotainment features: satellite radio, HD Radio, smartphone-linked navigation, integrated navigation, the Entune App Suite, a 12-speaker JBL stereo, and an 8-inch touch screen
  • Other available features: tri-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, a panoramic moonroof, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and Driver Easy Speak

See 2018 Toyota Highlander specs »

Read more about Highlander interior »

2018 Toyota Highlander Dimensions

Toyota Highlander Cargo Space

The Highlander has 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third row, which increases to 42.3 cubic feet of space with the third row folded and 83.7 cubic feet with both rear rows collapsed. While most midsize SUVs have more cargo space behind their third rows, the Highlander’s maximum cargo capacity is on par with that of most rivals.

Optional storage features include a power liftgate and a flip-up rear glass window that allows you to load small items without opening the tailgate.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Toyota Highlander Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet
  • Curb weight: 4,165 to 4,655 pounds
  • Gross vehicle weight: 5,665 to 6,000 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Toyota Highlander Built?

Toyota manufactured the Highlander in Indiana.

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