$24,923 - $36,749

2018 Toyota Highlander Interior Review

Scorecard

Interior: 8.4

The 2018 Toyota Highlander has an upscale interior with plenty of quality finishes and ample passenger room, though the third row is best left to children. Cargo space is comparable to others in the class. Some infotainment features aren't as user-friendly as they should be.

  • "The 2018 Toyota Highlander interior is largely unchanged from the previous iteration. We like that there are numerous USB ports, attractive seat upholstery, and a few other selective trim upgrades. All things considered, the Highlander's interior is one of its strong points." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2017)
  • The materials in the back (with the exception of the flip-up tray between the seats) are nicer than any other SUV save a Mercedes. I don't love the way the dash looks, but functionally, it's brilliant with that shelf for phones and stuff. There's no reason for the sunroof to have two buttons to control it, and the reach for the stereo tuning knob on the stereo is way too far." -- Motor Trend (2017)

Seating

The Highlander seats seven or eight, depending on whether it's equipped with the standard second-row bench seat or available captain's chairs. Cloth seats are standard, and options include leatherette seats, a 10- or 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, leather first- and second-row seats, leatherette third-row seats, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, and heated second-row seats. For installing child safety seats, the Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH anchors in its second row, and the middle seat of both rear rows features an upper anchor. The system earns praise for its ease of use.

The Highlander's first two rows provide ample comfort and support for passengers, though the third row is cramped.

  • "The comfortable front- and 2nd-row seats are great for long drives, and little ones in the third row will be satisfied, although adults should skip it." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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." -- Cars.com (2017)

Interior Features

Standard features in the 2018 Highlander include Bluetooth, five USB ports, voice recognition, a rearview camera, a 6.1-inch touch-screen infotainment system, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Optional features include tri-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, HD Radio, smartphone-linked navigation, an 8-inch touch screen, a moonroof, proximity key entry, push-button start, a 120-volt outlet, Driver Easy Speak, integrated navigation, the Entune app suite, a 12-speaker JBL audio system, a panoramic moonroof, front parking sensors, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a surround-view camera.

It takes some time to get used to the Highlander's infotainment features. Physical knobs and buttons are laid out clearly but can be hard to reach. The lack of a dedicated navigation button also proves confounding.

See 2018 Toyota Highlander specs »
  • "It's a long reach to some controls, particularly the touch screen." -- Consumer Reports
  • All controls are located where you might reasonably expect to find them, are clearly marked, and are sized for ease of use. … 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 (2017)
  • "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 (2017)

Cargo

The Highlander offers 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind its third row, 42.3 cubic feet behind its second row, and 83.7 cubic feet with all seats folded. Those values are line with those in midsize SUV rivals. A power liftgate is optional, as is a window on the cargo hatch that can open separately from the rest of the tailgate.

  • "The Highlander's 2-piece rear hatch offers the convenience of a flip-up glass window. This design makes it easier to load and unload items without valuable cargo rolling out the back, or the family pooch making a break for freedom." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A third row … folds flat easily for more cargo stowage." -- Consumer Reports
  • 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 (2017)

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