The Toyota Highlander made its North American debut in January 2001. For the outset it was difficult to put a finger on where the Highlander figured in their pecking order- was it supposed to be a midsize crossover version of the hyper-popular Toyota Camry or a downsized version of the 4Runner SUV?. Eventually Toyota announced in their reviews that the Highlander was indeed a crossover SUV intended to fill a gap in the mid-sized market. From then on the Toyota Highlander SUV went on to be a steady seller in the US and across the globe, becoming the best selling SUV in the Toyota stable for more than five years before being eased out by the slightly more compact RAV4 in 2006.
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The Forrester has only undergone one major revamp since its launch, which happened in 2007 after losing its title as best selling Toyota SUV. Looking very much like a slightly inflated Camry station wagon, the Toyota Highlander SUV still represents a very fair compromise between a comfortable family station wagon and medium to heavy duty off road vehicle, somewhat in the spirit of Subaru's Forrester.
The Toyota Highlander SUV comes with a choice of two engines, a 2.7 liter four cylinder versions paired with a six speed automatic gearbox for the basic version or a 3.5 liter six cylinder version with a six speed automatic gearbox for the SE and Limited Edition versions.
The standard and versions of the Highlander share the same chassis and suspension, with reviews most on the road situations. Electronic power steering on the Highlander does its job more than capably making for a smooth, comfortable and quiet ride.
Style wise, the Toyota Highlander SUV is very symmetrical pleasing with no particular external features that will make it stand out in a crowd. The cabin is fairly roomy an obviously room enough to cause Toyota to add a third row of seats as standard on paper that means seven passengers. However, in reality, only five of these passengers can be carried in comfort for any length of time, due to a combination of the skimpiness of the third row's upholstery and lack of leg room. To allow access to the third row when needed, the Toyota Highlander comes with a fully folding and even removable middle seat in the second row. Interpreted properly that means that the 2012 Toyota Highlander Crossover SUV really comes into its own when carrying four adults in comfort.
When it comes down to cargo handling, the good news is that both rows of seating can fold down completely flat, meaning a formidable 95 cubic feet of nett cargo space, a figure that leaves most of the Highlander's niche competitors lagging far behind.