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2011 Toyota Highlander Overview

The Highlander rolled onto the scene a decade ago and helped lead the revolution of the midsize crossover SUVs: Not too large, not too small, and just about right for anyone who liked the idea of a sports utility as a family vehicle, but wanted to keep driving a rig that was more car-like than truck-like.

Not much has changed in that regard over the last 10 years. The 2011 Toyota Highlander continues to provide a versatile and smooth-riding option with the ability to get a gang around town in all types of weather. Reviewers note that others may offer more when it comes to driving “fun factor,” but not more in the way of overall performance, comfort and affordability. The Highlander may not be the SUV for someone looking to do serious off-roading, but it does offer four-wheel drive, and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The 2011 Toyota Highlander’s versatility and flexibility shine through in a couple of areas. For the first time, the third-row seat is standard in all trims, making the Highlander a seven-seater, though reviewers and users note that the third row is cramped for adults.

The Highlander loses the Sport trim in 2011, but plenty of options remain in the other remaining trims, the Base, SE and Limited.

A 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine good for 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque comes standard in the Base and SE versions of the Highlander, and it’s equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. A 3.5-liter V6 is available in the Base and SE and is good for 270 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque with a five-speed automatic. The 2011 Highlander Limited comes with the V6 standard.

Four-cylinder models come only in front-wheel drive (FWD) and get an estimated 20 mpg city/25 highway. V6 buyers have a choice of FWD, with mileage estimated at 18/24, or four-wheel drive (4WD) at 17/22. The four-cylinder models have a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds when properly set up, and the V6 can pull 5,000 pounds. The Highlander has room for cargo, too, with 94.5 cubic feet of space with second- and third-row seats folded down.

The Highlander collects good marks for the design of its roomy and upscale cabin and adds air-conditioning controls for rear passengers for 2011. The second-row bench has a removable center seat that can be stowed, providing even more Highlander versatility, and leaving the row with a pair of captain’s seats.

The entry-level Base trim comes with rear privacy glass, a six-speaker CD stereo with auxiliary audio jack and cloth upholstery. The SE trim gets leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, a rear-view camera and a moonroof. The SE and Limited trims feature a new sound system for 2011 that’s also available in the Base model. It includes a USB interface and Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity. The Limited versions add a keyless access system with pushbutton start, power passenger seat and three-zone automatic climate control.

Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control and hill-start assist are among the safety offerings with the 2011 Toyota Highlander. 4WD models also have hill-descent control, which helps manage speed in slick and steep situations. The Highlander features seven airbags, including side-impact airbags for front seat passengers, side curtain airbags that cover all three rows of seats and a driver’s side knee airbag.

Updated by A. Lessels

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2011 Toyota Highlander Top Comparisons

Users ranked 2011 Toyota Highlander against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.

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Toyota Highlander Questions

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