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2015 Toyota Highlander

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/21/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The 2015 Toyota Highlander adds a standard LCD Multi-information display in the gauge cluster.

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Highlander is a midsize crossover with seating for up to eight passengers. It is available with three engines and in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations.


Most 2015 Toyota Highlanders will come with a 3.5-liter V-6 producing 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economical is decent at 19/25 mpg for front-drive models and 18/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. A front-drive base-model variant with a 2.7-liter I-4 producing 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque is also available, but isn't especially frugal with a 20/25 mpg rating.

The most efficient model in the lineup is the 2015 Highlander Hybrid with standard all-wheel drive, providing the best fuel economy at 27/28 mpg for the LE, XLE, and Limited grades, and 28/28 mpg in LE Plus variants.

Driving dynamics aren't a 2015 Highlander strong suit due to its heavy curb weight, which makes it handle competently but doesn't inspire confidence. The 3.5-liter V-6 moves the crossover along briskly with good acceleration and passing power. Hybrid models and the extra weight it carries from its batteries worsen its performance despite having a total system output of 280 hp from its hybrid V-6 powertrain.

Interior space is ample with seating for up to eight passengers and up to 82.6 cubic feet of cargo volume. The 2015 Highlander's cabin emphasizes functionality and is geared towards families with its adjustable seating arrangements 60/40 split second row seats, and a large center console bin. Third row seating is cramped for adults due to inadequate head and legroom. Center stack controls are easy to use and "purposeful" with big knobs and a "straightforward layout." Material quality inside the cabin, however, is disappointing with cheap plastics particularly in non-hybrid models.

The 2015 Toyota Highlander has a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars) and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, earning a Good score in four categories and Acceptable in the small overlap front crash test (Good is the highest possible score). The 2015 Highlander also has an Advanced rating in frontal crash prevention with optional equipment (front crash prevention awards include Basic, Advanced, and Superior).

What We Think

The 2015 Highlander remains a good all-around crossover for families with its utilitarian interior and generous cargo capacity. In a 2014 First Test of an all-wheel-drive XLE model, we said that maintains its "family friendliness" with a reconfigurable seating arrangement, flat-folding second and third rows, and a large central console bin. However, low quality materials used inside the cabin make the crossover "feel cheap and plasticky" with doors that sounded "tinny and hollow" when closed and a noisy interior. Additionally, the mediocre driving dynamics make the crossover feel plain and uninspired due to its middling performance and anonymity.

You'll Like

  • Hybrid fuel economy
  • Easy to use center stack controls
  • Utilitarian interior

You Won't Like

  • Disappointing I-4 model
  • Cramped third row
  • Low quality cabin materials

Key Competitors

  • Nissan Pathfinder
  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • Dodge Durango
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Kia Sorento


4 star


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