2017 Toyota Highlander Review
  • Car Review

2017 Toyota Highlander Review

By Autolist Editorial | September 18, 2020

Quick Facts:


  • Several trims and options for customization.
  • Available V6 engine adds more performance.
  • Comfortable cabin with a smooth, serene ride.


  • Base four-cylinder engine is underpowered.
  • Third-row seating is tight.
  • Nothing eye-catching about the design.

Would we buy one? Yes.

Vehicle Type: Four-door, three-row, midsize crossover SUV with seating for up to eight.

Price Range: Starting prices range from $31,625-$42,675, including destination but before options.

Powertrain: The base model receives a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, with a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque available as well.

A 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard on the base four-cylinder engine model and 8-speed automatic transmission for the 3.5-liter V6 powertrain.

A CVT is standard for the Highlander Hybrid variant.

Front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel-drive available standard or optional depending on trim levels.

Competitors: Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, Kia Sorento, GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, and Toyota RAV4.

More Photos

See more 2017 Toyota Highlander Photos.

Overall Score: 8.4/10

Safety Features: 8/10


The 2017 Highlander meets Toyota's commitment to high safety standards.

The Toyota Safety Sense suite comes standard on all trims for 2017. It includes automatic emergency braking, eight airbags, lane departure warning with steering assist, automatic high beams, back-up camera, and adaptive cruise control.

Toyota Highlander XLE and above trims have blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert included standard.

The Toyota Highlander is on par or surpasses rivals in standard safety features.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2017 Toyota Highlander a five out of five-star rating in crash tests, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the Highlander a 'Top Safety Pick Plus.'

Value: 8/10


There are five trims with many options. Trims levels are LE, LE Plus, XLE, SE, and Limited.

The base LE trim starts at $31,625, with the LE Plus starting at $36,055. Next trim levels include the XLE at $39,515, and SE, starting at $40,685. Finally, the top-tier Limited trim starts at $42,675.

A new Highlander Hybrid SE trim joins the LE and XLE hybrid variants for the 2017 lineup with a starting price of $37,265 MSRP for the Hybrid LE.

An XLE is a good choice with its extra features and tuned suspension, which provides a pleasant ride. We would skip the higher trim levels with the bells and whistles and pass on the base LE, choosing the XLE, as mentioned. If we are going to shell out extra bucks for a luxury-leaning midsize SUV, we like the Lexus RX350, which is also built by Toyota.

Tech Features: 7/10


If more evolved infotainment systems are a purchasing factor for you, the Highlander LE is underwhelming in this respect. You might consider crossover rivals like the Ford Explorer or the Honda Pilot, which have more standard multimedia and infotainment features.

Standard infotainment system features for the LE include dual-zone climate control, USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, an Entune audio system, and a 6.1-inch touchscreen.

The LE Plus trim and above receive an 8-inch touchscreen with a navigation system, satellite radio, and three-zone climate control.

Practicality: 9/10


Toyota has made some changes to interior space and refined the overall usability and feel of the front and rear seating, storage, and cargo space.

The front seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom and headroom. There isn't a lot of legroom in the third row, but the headroom is good in the back. Rivals like the Nissan Pathfinder offer comfier third-row seats.

There are 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row. Folding them down expands cargo capacity to 42.3 cubic feet.

Towing capacity for the Highlander is up to 5,000 pounds with the standard package on all trim levels for 2017. The Nissan Pathfinder has a greater max towing capacity than the Highlander.

We found getting in and out of tight places to be easy, with good visibility all-around aided by the variety of standard safety equipment and features, including the 360-degree camera.

The 2017 Toyota Highlander remains an excellent vehicle for families who need space and individuals shopping for new cars in the midsize SUV segment.

Styling & Design: 7/10


Not much has changed over previous model years for the 2017 Toyota Highlander's styling approach. The design leans towards utility, with little emphasis on style like one might find in the Mazda CX-9.

The base Highlander LE has 18-inch alloy wheels, while fancier choices are standard on higher tier trim levels. Popular features like leather seats, a power moonroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather upholstery are also available.

Driving Experience: 9/10


The Highlander is quite capable of accelerating at a steady clip, thanks to the new V6 powertrain Toyota added for 2017. Transitioning through the gears of the new 8-speed automatic is seamless, providing an even and smooth ride.

The performance is not the greatest with the standard four-cylinder engine and the slower 6-speed automatic drivetrain. The 3.5L V6 offers up more punch and fares well on gas mileage. Its 8-speed automatic transmission works like a charm and has no perceptible hiccups, making it the preferable choice over the 2.7L four-cylinder engine.

Fuel Efficiency: 8/10


Toyota has made some improvements this year in gas mileage, improving fuel economy for the Highlander. The Highlander hybrid variant offers even better efficiency if that is a buying factor for you.

According to the EPA estimates, the FWD four-cylinder configuration gets 22 mpg combined. AWD models with the V6 powertrain get an EPA-estimated 23 mpg. The Highlander hybrid variant gets 29 mpg combined.

More Photos

See more 2017 Toyota Highlander Photos.