The base 2018 Highlander LE is powered by a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine. The unit's output is 185 hp with 184 lb-ft of torque. That's somewhat of a downer because its upper trims have the 3.5-liter V6 with 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque as a standard fit. On the other hand, customers who want more out of their LE can still get the V6 unit as an optional fit. The power of the LE is distributed via an eight-speed automatic gearbox to its front wheels. There is an option for an all-wheel drive system together with the V6 upgrade. We took the Limited Platinum for a spin to see how it performs. The SUV was able to sprint from zero to 60 mph in just seven seconds while its top speed was at the 115 mph mark. The handling and braking of the auto was crisp, thanks to its suspension and array of driver assistance systems.
The vehicle comes with the Toyota Safety Sense bundle that includes automatic high beams, lane departure intervention, adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking. In addition, it has a rear view camera, five USB ports, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio system with CD player, heated mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer and 6.1-inch touchscreen. Taking the LE Plus adds an adjustable power-liftgate, foglights, tri-zone automatic climate control, 8-inch touchscreen with higher resolution, sattelite, HD radio and several smartphone-compatible apps. Choosing the XLE includes all the goodies found in the Highlander's lower trims plus the blind spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, upgraded instrument console, heated front seats, 110V power outlet, navigation system, keyless entry and ignition, and the Easy Speak that allows the driver to communicate to the passengers through the rear speakers. The changes from the XLE to the SE are purely cosmetic except the LED running lights. For the Limited, you get added LED running lights, rear parking sensors, ventilated front seats, heated Captain's Chairs, and 12-speaker audio. Selecting the Limited Platinum takes it a notch higher with its 360-degree parking camera, front parking sensors, automatic wipers, Safety Connect emergency communications, and heated steering wheel as well as heated second row Captain's Chairs.
The 2018 Highlander offers a lot of tech that improve its safety. As enumerated earlier, it has sensors for avoiding collisions and cameras to cover its blind spot. Even the base LE trim comes with a rearview camera. Based on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) ratings of the vehicle, it scored -Good- in various collision and rollover tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also gave the unit a five out of five rating in crash and rollover tests while praising its standard feature called -Forward Collision Warning/Auto-Brake-.
The 2018 Toyota Highlander possesses a very imposing design. That's thanks to its bold horizontal front radiator grille extending all the way down to the bumper, which seems inspired by the latest Lexus cars. Add to that the sharp corners in its frame, body lines, and a set of 18-inch wheels. The aura of the vehicle is more of a hauler or a truck rather than a mid-size SUV. Getting the XLE and higher trims add the sunroof and roof rails. The SE and up improves it more with its LED running lights, suspension tuning, sporty accessories and 19-inch wheels. The Limited model enhances the LED running lights and provides added styling choices for the 19-inch wheels. Last but not least, the Limited Platinum boosts the visuals of the Highlander with its panoramic sunroof. Inside the auto is a nice touch of two-tone leather surfaces and contrasting stitching on the seat covers. There are chrome accents too that highlight the vehicle's key interior components like its steering wheel, air vents, stick shift, door panels, door handles, cup holders and controls. Buyers will get the sporty interior trim starting from the SE trim.
The 2018 Highlander is designed to accommodate up to eight people. The optional captain's chairs on the second row reduces that to seven. There is adequate level of comfort in its adjustable seats and seating on the captain's chairs boost the feel a little. The heated seats and thigh support certainly offer respite during long trips. The cabin of the Highlander is one of the quietest that we have tested so far. Going to the third row seats is a different story though because it just feels so cramped. The seatbelts indicate that it can hold up to three passengers but we think that you would only be really comfy there if you were a kid. Then, the gap between the second row captain's chairs is so narrow that it is still a chore to get to the third row seats.
The cargo space of the 2018 Highlander is a bit less than its known competitors in the market like the 2018 Honda Pilot. The space from the rear to the second row seats is just 42.3 cu-ft while leaving the third row seats up will only leave you 13.8 cu-ft for your luggage. Folding all the seats except the ones in the front row yields 83.7 cu-ft of room.