Specifications of Toyota Highlander IV 3.5 V6 (295 HP) AWD Automatic
General characteristics of Toyota Highlander IV 3.5 V6 (295 HP) AWD Automatic
The Highlander has an overall length of 194.9 inches, increasing to 197.4 inches in XSE trim. All models ride on a 112.2-inch wheelbase. Overall width is rated at 76 inches, and it has a height of 68.1 inches. These dimensions make it similar in size to the Kia Telluride. The ground clearance is a useful eight inches, and according to the Japanese brand, the approach/breakover/departure angles are up to 18.1/16.7/23 degrees depending on the trim. That places it firmly in the softroader category, which means it should be fine on a well-kept gravel road. Curb weight starts at 4,145 pounds for the base Highlander L and LE FWD models and goes all the way up to 4,595 lbs for the hybrid derivatives in AWD guise.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine equipped as standard is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Hybrid-wise, you can choose a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated motor with electric assistance.
The V6 produces 295 hp at 6,600 rpm, while the 263 lb-ft of torque only arrives at 4,700 rpm. It's a peaky old-school engine, and you need to work it hard when the entire family is on board. In everyday situations, the eight-speeder goes about its business quietly and efficiently. That's perfectly fine, considering the application.
The hybrid model is quite interesting in its approach. Whereas rivals like the Ford Explorer use hybridization to produce more power, Toyota uses it for ultimate efficiency. CVT transmissions are getting better, but they're still nowhere near as refined as traditional torque converter 'boxes. CVTs tend to work well in vehicles with plenty of low-down torque. The combustion engine produces 186 hp and 175 lb-ft by itself. These figures are poor, but the electric motor takes the combined power output up to 243 hp. The low-down torque comes from the electric motor, which fills the power gaps adequately.
We're not fans of CVTs, but this one works well enough. It doesn't make us want to get out of the Highlander and walk in front of an oncoming bus. The same could not be said of the first- and second-generation Prius.
Considering the Highlander uses an old-school V6, the gas mileage isn't that bad. The eight-speed gearbox is primarily responsible for the EPA-estimated figures of 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined for the FWD model and 20/27/23 mpg for the AWD derivative. The Highlander's hybrid powertrain is the undisputed champion of frugality. According to the EPA, the FWD model can return 36/35/36 mpg, while the AWD manages 35s across the board in its lower trim levels. Hybrid models are equipped with a 17.1-gallon tank, and gas models get a slightly larger 17.9-gallon tank. The estimated range from a full tank is 616 miles for the most frugal hybrid, down to 412 miles for the least efficient AWD V6.
The Highlander has three rows of seating, though the third row is only suitable for children. Two configurations are available. Base models get seating for eight, while mid to top-spec models have second-row captain's chairs, taking the seat count down to seven. Legroom is 42 inches in the front, 41 inches in the second row, and a much tighter 27.7 inches in the third row. That's the first clue that these seats are for kids only. Headroom is rated at 41.2/39.4/36.1 inches in the first/second/third rows on models without a moonroof and 39.6/39.4/36.1 inches on models with this feature. The second row's headroom dips down to 37.1 inches when the panoramic moonroof is equipped with the front-row headspace cut down to 38.4. From the driver's seat, there is good outward visibility although the steering wheel doesn't adjust perfectly for taller drivers, who will feel the need to stretch a bit more than is comfortable to reach the wheel.
As we said earlier, the new Toyota Highlander will likely be exposed to passengers with little respect for interior cleanliness and longevity. The doors and dash are covered in hard-wearing plastics, which aren't particularly pleasant to the touch, but at least they'll be able to cope with the pressure of family transport.
L and LE models come with fabric seats, available in Graphite or Black. The XLE trim upgrades to softer, more appealing SofTex leatherette upholstery, available in Graphite, Black, or Harvest Beige. The XSE has a sportier interior, with upholstery to match. It's available in either Black Mixed Media (leather and cloth) or Cockpit Red leather. The Limited gets a full leather interior, available in the same color choices as the XLE's SofTex. Finally, the Platinum shares the Limited model's leather colors but adds Glazed Caramel as an additional color choice. All models besides the base L have a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The Highlander is slightly down on space compared to its direct competitors, but that doesn't mean it feels cramped. For a family of five, the Highlander has more than enough room. It still has 16 cubic feet of cargo capacity left over with all three rows in place. That's enough space for the daily school run or a week's worth of groceries. With the third row folded down, the cargo capacity increases to 48.4 cubes, and with the second row folded forward, cargo capacity increases to 84.3 cubic feet.
Interior storage is adequate. There are eight cupholders, four bottle holders, an armrest with a storage bin, and an oddly shaped space directly underneath the center air vents. An overhead console provides a handy place to store your sunglasses.