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2011 Toyota Highlander review





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Its high time that we actually stop calling crossovers as SUVs

When you say crossover, it has got to be something like the Suzuki SX4, a sedan with SUV looks

However in North America, every other vehicle is now been called a crossover

Classic example is that of the 2011 Toyota Highlander

Now tell me one thing

Which part of the Highlander looks as a crossover

Looks are a personal thing

but I didn’t find anyone disagreeing with me on this part though

The subject out for a review today is the 2011 Toyota Highlander

If you want road presence, then the 2011 Toyota Highlander will offer that in plenty however it wouldn’t distinguish your car from the scores of big SUVs moving around in North America or anywhere else in the world

Looks

The 2011 Toyota Highlander doesn’t look like a crossover and infact is a big fat SUV, the types we Americans love

In profile it actually resembles Hyundai’s Santa Fe

The 4 layered grille has chrome on it and the Toyota logo embossment feels a tad bigger than what <a title="Toyota Celica based Ferrari F430 replica" href="http://usa

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The head lamps are embedded deep into the bonnet whereas the fog lamps have their own chrome beak shaped cut outs

The air dam has that Nissan Micra like grille cutout

The top end Limited edition boasts of having 19 inch alloys whereas the base trim gets 17 inch aluminium wheels

From the sides, rarely would any one say that this is a Toyota Highlander as most of the cars in its category look the same from the sides

The rear also shows more of Hyundai’s Santa Fe kind tail lamps The D pillars look as if they are resting on the tail lamps, which bulge out

The black bumper cladding masks the single tail pipe though

There are two reflectors on the bumper as well

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Interiors

The 2011 Toyota may have some subtle changes done to its exteriors however the interiors barely received any fresh detailing

There are three trim levels for this car and the fourth one, the Sports has been eliminated

The trims now available are base, SE and Limited editions

If you choose the entry level one, then you get regular air conditioning, CD player with 6 speakers along with aux input, third row seats with 50/50 split arrangement and second row with 40/20/40-split-folding

Moving to the mid level SE trim, one gets dual zone climate control, power tail gate, sun roof, upgraded audio system, reversing camera and heated front seats

The Limited edition gets 4 way power passenger seat, a different central console, leather upholstery and also automatic climate control with tri zone operation

The 2011 Toyota Highlander gets a 4 spoke steering wheel wrapped in leather and one which gets audio, Bluetooth and cruise controls on it

The instrument cluster is typical Toyota with its optitron dials and hooded binnacle

Everything falls into place as it exactly should

However touch the dashboard and you would be disappointed if you expected soft touch materials

Don’t get me wrong there

They are soft to touch however not exactly as the ones in the Ford Flex

Both the front passenger and the driver find comfortable perches with 10 way powered seats for the driver on the Limited version

The middle row seats even though have enough of leg room, fall short in the realms of comfort

For a well fed American, the seats would be too narrow plus under thigh support is also an issue here

However put three thin people and they would be reasonably comfortable

Moreover the middle seat can be pulled out and stowed behind the front one to create an easy access to the last row or just give captain seat arrangement for the middle row passengers

However comfortable it may be, taller passengers would always be wary of the last row of seats

It seems a bit claustrophobic but then the space has been utilized better for seating all passengers

Once all the rows of seats are in place, the cargo space is only 10 cubic feet

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Handling and ride quality

The 2011 Toyota Highlander has been tuned more for comfort rather than outright handling

Toyota has taken feedback from many Highlander owners and has incorporated this into the new 2011 model

This was the main reason for axing the Sport version which had firmer springs and concentrated more

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on the handling aspect

So all the versions of the Toyota Highlander absorb bumps as if they don’t exist

Handling, even though it has taken a back seat doesn’t mean all is lost here

It handles okay but then it always shows its 4500 pound kerb weight and body roll is also more pronounced

The steering wheel also worsens matters by taking more locks for a turn than usual

Toyota have however countered this by saying that most CUV owners like it that way and hence it has been engineered so

The cabin is really quiet and you really have to push the engine hard to hear any engine noise

Moreover the wind or tyre noise is also absent here

Calm and peaceful motoring at its best

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

Two engines grace the engine bay of the 2011 Toyota Highlander

One is the 2

7 liter 4 cylinder that puts out 187 Hp of power and 186 pound feet of torque

It is mated to a 6 speed auto tranmission which directs power to the front wheels

The other engine is a 3

5 liter V6 unit which pumps in 270 Hp of power whereas the torque figure reads as 248 pound feet

It gets a 5 speed auto tranny for company

The V6 engine is very tractable and there is no dearth of power even in the upper reaches of its power band

What you get is an optional all wheel drive system

This was the car that I had with me for the review and the run from 0-60 mph was completed in only 7

4 seconds

The gear box is also upto the mark with upshifts and downshifts not taking longer than what a conventional manual would

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Like all Toyotas, the 2011 Toyota Highlander has a plethora of safety features for it

The brakes themselves are powerful but assisting them in this duties are the 4 channel ABS system, hill start assist as also the stability control system

My AWD model also came with hill descent control which works electronically with the ABS to cut down on slippage on inclines or ice covered surfaces

7 air bags, reverse camera and side intrusion beams handle the safety aspect of this car

The US government has accorded this car 5 star ratings for safety whereas IIHS has given it the “Good” tag

As far as fuel efficiency is considered, the AWD model that I had gave 19 mpg

This isn’t far from the EPA estimated 17 mpg in city and 23 mpg on the highway

The front wheel drive model returns 20 mpg in city and 26 mpg on the highway

These are EPA estimates for the V6 engine and the 4 cylinder should return marginally more fuel efficiency

2011 Toyota Highlander Photo Gallery

Verdict

The 2011 Toyota Highlander is one sensible product with the legendary Toyota reliability

It brings in decent space for 7 or eight, has decent interiors and well damped ride quality

If you notice, only the ride part has been well sorted out however the others are just decent

This is because the Highlander is showing its age

Especially for the interiors

Toyota should think about a serious revamp instead of this half hearted efforts

The 2011 Toyota Highlander price starts from $27,540 and ends at $35,490

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