“A comfortable and secure all-weather family cruiser, the Toyota Highlander is a low risk purchase with a history of solid reliability and excellent resale value retention.”
Toyota introduced a completely redesigned and more upscale Highlander in 2008 (its mid-sized utility vehicle) that was bigger with three rows of seating, more powerful and more expensive.
Bad timing, as that very same year the world`s economy took an unexpected and spectacular nosedive, which sparked a major consumer trend to scale down.
This model offers has a more rounded shape with pronounced wheel arches and there’s a flip-open rear door window. It`s a handy feature that allows you to drop stuff into the cargo area without opening the large rear door.
The V6 engine versions of Highlander came with four-wheel-drive plus extra goodies like a back-up camera, a power driver’s seat and fog lamps. Above base, the higher trim levels were Sport, Limited and SR5 (only for 2008).
A four-wheel-drive Highlander Hybrid with a gas/electric powertrain was also offered and came in base and Limited trim levels. Hybrid power is provided by a 3.3 litre V6 engine coupled to an electric motor and they have a combined power output of 270 horsepower, which is roughly the same as the regular 3.5-litre V6. The hybrid`s city/highway fuel economy, however, is rated (new five-cycle method) at 8.6 / 9.5 L/100km compared to 13.8 / 10.4 km/100km for the 3.5 litre V6.
Reacting to the new economic reality, in an impressively quick way, Toyota introduced a substantially lower priced and more basic, front-drive Highlander, midway through the ’09 model year. It came with two-row seating and a 2.7 litre 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine can provide 187 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm and its city/highway fuel economy rating is 11.8 / 8.7 L/100km.
Highlander is a ‘Top Safety Pick’ according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, based on its front, side and rear crash tests. Highlander was included in a series of safety recalls (see list), including the famous “floor mat recall”, in response to mysterious defect that supposedly caused unintended acceleration.
No changes were made to the 2010 Highlander, but for 2011, it got revised front and rear styling, with slimmer headlights, a new front grille and new taillights. The Sport model was discontinued and the hybrid version got a (combined 280 horsepower) 3.5L V6. A third-row seat also became standard on all models.
No significant changes were made for the 2012 or 2013 model years, which were the last of this generation Highlander. The completely revised 2014 Highlander, a sleeker family-friendly seven passenger cross utility, recorded its best sales year ever.
A comfortable and secure all-weather family cruiser, the Toyota Highlander is a low risk purchase with a history of solid reliability and excellent resale value retention.
Price Check: 2008 – 2013 Toyota Highlander (April 2015)
Year Edition Expect to Pay Today
2008 V6 4WD Limited $21,000 to $25,000
2009 V6 4WD Limited $23,000 to $27,000
2010 V6 4WD Limited $25,000 to $29,000
2011 V6 4WD Limited $27,000 to $32,000
2012 V6 4WD Limited $30,000 to $35,000
2013 V6 4WD Limited $33,000 to $38,000
Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.
Safety Recalls: 2008 to 2013 Toyota Highlander:
2008: The driver’s side power window master switch could stick or become inoperative. Dealers will inspect the driver’s power window master switch and apply special grease that inhibits heat build-up, or replace the power window master switch circuit board, as necessary.
2008: Side curtain airbag roll angle sensors may fail. If one roll angle sensor malfunctions, the airbag warning lamp will illuminate and the roll detection system will be suspended. If both roll angle sensors fail simultaneously, the curtain shield airbag and the seatbelt pre-tensioner could inadvertently deploy. Dealers will replace the airbag sensor assembly.
2008: The seatbelt mechanism for the third row seat may revert from its Emergency Locking Retractor (ELR) mode to its Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR) mode, while installing a Child Restraint. Dealers will install a newly designed seatbelt component free of charge.
2008: The seat track, located on the inboard side of the left second row seat, may not fully lock in the forward first and second adjustment positions. Dealers will affect repairs.
2008 – 2010: Electrical circuitry in the steering wheel assembly may become damaged and the driver’s airbag may not function as intended and the instrument panel airbag warning lamp may illuminate. Dealers will replace the spiral cable assembly.
2008 – 2010: If a Toyota optional accessory “tray-type” floor mat is not secured by retaining hooks, or is placed on top of an existing floor mat, it may move forward and interfere with the accelerator pedal. Owners were notified to remove the “tray-type” floor mats and given a reimbursement.
2008 – 2010: The accelerator pedal may become stuck in the wide-open position due to an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat. Dealers will reconfigure the shape of the accelerator pedal, modify the floor underneath the accelerator pedal and/or install a brake override system.
“If you want a mid-sized crossover that will stand out from the crowd, take a look at a 2015 Nissan Murano, and its new price tag!”
Crossovers are the most in demand vehicles in any market you can name…
Freshly unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Mazda CX-3 is an all-new compact (crossover) utility.
Like all the latest Mazda products it comes with that distinctive Kodo (Soul of Motion) styling theme and it’s the fifth in a series of the new-generation models to feature the full-package of Mazda’s ground-breaking Skyactiv (fuel-saving) technologies. In dealers next summer (as a 2016 model), the CX-3 is expected to become a new core vehicle in the Mazda line-up.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre gas engine linked to a six-speed automatic transmission and Mazda’s new-generation AWD system. This system employs an active torque control coupling, first used on the Mazda CX-5, plus a new and unique front wheel slip warning detection system. New technologies available include a Mazda Connect infotainment system and its (radar based) i-Activesense active safety system.
The CX-3 has an extra long hood and a flowing shape that raises at the rear to convey a look of strength and power. Large diameter wheels are pushed to the body ends and it has a long 101.2 wheelbase. The chassis employs a lightweight torsion beam rear suspension system.
Forward positioning the front wheels allows the driver extended leg room, on the inside, and space for a hinged (organ-type design) gas pedal. Seating is provided for up to five and the rear seat occupants sit a little taller than those in the front.
Agile, athletic and fuel-efficient are not words you probably associate with Lincoln vehicles, but they can be used to describe the MKC. This all-new and attractive premium compact utility vehicle fits nicely into a revitalized Lincoln line-up that’s more in tune with today’s luxury vehicle buyer. Powered by either a 2.0-litre (10.9L/100km), or optional 2.3-litre (11.2L/100km), turbocharged four-cylinder (EcoBoost) engine, the MKC has a starting MSRP just under $40,000 and comes in three trim levels. All wheel drive is standard plus continuously controlled suspension damping, adaptive electric power-assisted steering and active (cabin) noise control are included in a group of advanced technologies called Lincoln Drive Control.
The MKC’s extra-large rear liftgate is a distinctive wraparound design that includes the full-width LED taillights. Created by using a unique hydro-forming process it gives the MKC a smooth, clean rear appearance and the wider opening provides easier access to its cargo area. A clever optional power feature also allows hands-free operation, to open or close the liftgate, by using a kicking action.
This third generation of Toyota Highlander is sleeker, more fuel-efficient and larger, with three rows of seating, for up to eight occupants. It’s also available in four (3.5-litre) V6 engine editions plus three (V6) hybrid powertrain editions.
The fuel-frugal base LE trim ($31,975) is the only front-drive version. Limited ($45,395) is the top-line all-wheel drive edition and hybrid editions range from $44,015 to $52,990. The 3.5-litre V-6 can generate 270-horsepower and it’s mated to six-speed automatic transmission. Towing is rated at 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) and a transmission cooler is standard, however, the tow hitch, with a wiring harness, is an option.
While you gain the cool-factor of its utility, as a people-mover it can’t match the practicality of a minivan. Maximum cargo space of 2,370 litres (with second and third rows folded) isn’t close to the Toyota Sienna minivan’s 4,247 litres. Then again, Highlander has real off-road credentials. Good ground clearance, hill-decent and four-wheel-drive locking features keep Highlander in-touch with its roots.
If you want a mid-sized crossover that will stand out from the crowd, take a look at a 2015 Nissan Murano, and its new price tag! This third-generation design takes the Murano’s car-like styling to a new level in the utility segment. It’s offered in four trim levels – S ($29,998), SV, SL and Platinum and there’s a choice of front-wheel (S, SV) or all-wheel drive (SV, SL, Platinum).
The start price has been reduced by $4,500 (versus the 2014 Murano S) and prices have dropped on almost all trim levels, even though the new Murano comes with more equipment. Power comes from a 3.5-litre V6 engine connected to an Xtronic (CVT) transmission.
The 2015 Murano has reduced weight (approximately 145 pounds) versus the previous generation, low rolling resistance tires, air grille shutter, low 0.31 Cd, underbody covers that enhance underbody airflow and improvements to the Xtronic transmission.
There are many very good reasons why the Honda CR-V is Canada’s best-selling utility vehicle and it gets significant enhancements for the 2015 model year. Honda claims this is the most significant mid-model cycle refresh in its history and the changes include a new direct-injected Earth Dreams Technology i-VTEC engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Although the current (2014) CR-V provides good fuel economy, the new powertrain combo is even better. When both model years are measured with the new NR CAN’s 5-cycle test method, the combined fuel savings for a front-drive 2015 edition is 1.3 L/100km and the 2015 all-wheel-drive version is 1.1 L/100km more frugal than its predecessor.
In addition to enhanced exterior and interior styling, CR-V also gets a new suite of Honda Sensing safety and driver assistive features, plus some new standard and available features. And there’s more good news, the 2015 Honda CR-V comes with a lower start manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $25,990.
“Good on fuel and perfect for family transportation…”
The 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is truly a big people mover.
There are three models available; the Hybrid LE, XLE, both of which carry up to eight passengers and the Hybrid Limited that I drove maxes out at seven.
The designers have given the Highlander a makeover for 2015 with a new grille and more sculpted headlights along with a larger rear spoiler. This year, 17-inch alloy wheels are standard with 19-inch alloy wheels available on the Limited and XLE models.
In The Cab:
Standard features on all Highlander models include third row seating, air conditioning; front seats with height-adjustable active head rests and eight-way (10-way on the Limited) adjustable driver’s seat. The long list of standard features includes: power door locks and windows with driver’s window jam protection and auto up/down feature; cruise control; multi-function keyless entry system; UV reduction windshield and rear privacy glass; illuminated entry system.
The Limited model features a panoramic moonroof that brings in lots of natural light to the cabin.
The LE model features a standard AM/FM/CD audio system with six-speakers; XLE and Limited models have an AM/FM/six disc in dash CD changer with six speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability and satellite radio capability. All audio systems are equipped with a USB audio input.
All models have a backup camera. The lift gate has selectable memory height settings so gone are the days of walking into the edge of the gate without looking.
The Highlander comes standard with seven airbags. These include advanced driver and front passenger airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags and a driver’s knee airbag. Roll-sensing side curtain airbags help to protect the occupants of all three rows in the event of side collisions or vehicle rollovers. All Highlander models are now standard equipped with front active headrests.
Toyota has also added Smart Stop technology, lane departure alert, blind spot monitor, and rear cross traffic alert.
The tester has a higher spring rate and a high damping force type shock absorber that delivers a firm but comfortable ride. Cornering is where you really feel the difference. Missing is the typical SUV roll you experience with some other SUVs. There is lots of power and it is very easy to find yourself over the speed limit in a hurry!
I noticed that in Econ mode the heater does not put out as much force, so on a cold day you will have to turn this off to get a full amount of heat. There is lots of room inside for the whole family, especially with the addition of the third row seating.
The Hybrid comes with a towing prep package that includes a large radiator, transmission oil cooler, heavy-duty battery and towing wire harness.
Good on fuel and perfect for family transportation.
The Hybrid combines a 3.5 litre engine with a high-speed electric motor that produces a peak 280 horsepower.
Basic 60,000 km
Powertrain 100,000 km
HYBRID Limited – 8.6/8.5 L/100 km (city/highway)
Highlander Hybrid LE from $44,015
Highlander Hybrid XLE from $46,440
Highlander Hybrid Limited as tested $52,990
“You probably will recover that extra investment in this Highlander hybrid while doing your eco-part to save a world that looks pretty good from high up on Mount Baker.”
On a muggy, scorching hot summer’s day, what better vehicle than the aptly named Highlander for a high-altitude scenic drive to find some cool, crisp mountain air and sink a foot in a glacier.
All-new for 2014, Highlander Hybrid is the fuel-efficient and eco-friendlier version of what Toyota describes as its mid-sized SUV, but it sure looks and feels bigger than most in this class, plus it can seat up to seven (or eight). Wider and longer than last year, this Highlander is also lower and, more importantly from a driving perspective, it has a lower centre of gravity.
There was a time when Highlander looked like an SUV, with an angular two-box design. Its styling lines have softened with successive redesigns and now if you put Highlander beside its Camry-based wagon sibling, the Venza, you need a second look to tell them apart. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but I do like its more car-like driving dynamics.
Not far south of the Canadian border, Mount Baker is a glacier-covered mountain that rises 3,286 m (10,781 ft) above sea level, which is over 900 m (3,000 ft) higher than Whistler, the best-known mountain in BC. Mount Baker is also regarded as the second most active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range, after Mount St. Helens, but there’s been nary a puff since 1880.The Mount Baker Highway (Hwy. 542) starts in Bellingham (exit #255 off the I-5), winds east through a number of small communities and offers some interesting side tours along the way, before it climbs steeply and ends at Artist Point (1,567 m / 5,140 ft.). This large parking lot, which is about 10 km beyond the ski area, is closed during the winter months and has spectacular panoramic views, plus a selection of great hiking trails.
The highway crosses the Nooksack River at Nugent’s Corner and tracks east, alongside the north fork of the river, through old growth areas in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. Allow about 1.5 hours of leisurely drive time in each direction. You’ll also need a ($5) day pass to park, which you get from automated dispensers at the Glacier Public Service Center or at Heather Meadows near the skiing area.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive system in Highlander uses a 3.5L Atkinson Cycle V6 gas engine, a high torque electric motor-generator and powerful traction battery. It boasts 10 additional horsepower (280 net horsepower) over the gas-only model, yet uses almost 30 per cent less fuel.
Although Toyota has done an admirable job of masking it, Highlander Hybrid is a weighty (2,200 kg) vehicle, and has the usual characteristics of a heavy vehicle. It’s more than fine in a straight line and while handling is laudably predictable, it didn’t seem to like being tossed around on the twisty sections of the highway. Then again, that’s the norm in this class of vehicle.
Side Trips: Mount Baker Vineyards and Winery has a tasting room, offers tours, has a picnic area and is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5:00 p.m. It’s about 3 km east of the Nugent’s Corner roundabout, where you can also spot the historic Bethany Church (built in 1907) landmark.
Nooksack Falls is just a short (and groomed) gravel road off the highway about 11 km (7 ml) east of Glacier, which is the last community along the highway. You do have to scramble over some (slippery when wet) rocks to get to a good (and safe) fenced viewing area. The water takes a spectacular 30 m (100 ft) plunge, so a close-up view is definitely worth the extra effort.
Interesting Eating Places: Anthony’s is an excellent choice for lunch or dinner in Bellingham. Situated in the harbour area it overlooks the marina and has views of the San Juan Islands. Great service, great fare (especially the seafood), all tables come with a view and the prices are very reasonable, compared to Vancouver.
An after-meal stroll around the picturesque marina walkway also allows you to ogle hundreds of boats and yachts up close.
Web site: anthonys.com
The North Fork Brewery, Pizzeria, Beer Shrine and Wedding Chapel is an out of the ordinary and rewarding halfway (going or returning) restaurant stop on the Mount Baker Highway that’s known locally as “The Shrine”.
Don’t be put off by the long name or its rustic appearance as the food is delicious and there’s an awesome selection of fresh brewed-on-site handcrafted beers.
Web site: northforkbrewery.com
Last Word: A hybrid edition of the Toyota Highlander costs an additional $6,000 to $8,000. Yes, you probably will recover that extra investment in this hybrid while doing your eco-part to save a world that looks pretty good from high up on Mount Baker.
Quick Specs & Pricing:
Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE: $43,720
Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE: $46,175
Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited: $52,695
3.5 Litre, V6 / Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD): 280 horsepower (net)
City/Highway fuel economy: 6.8/7.2 L/100km
It is competent, potent and a fabulous sport utility vehicle even in Eco Mode where the fun is a little bit restricted…
The all-new, third generation 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD tips the scale at 2,200 kg (4,850 lbs.)
It’s not a svelte vehicle.
Inside, this Highlander can carry up to seven passengers.
It’s not a cramped vehicle.
And behind the third row of seats, there’s a cargo capacity of 385L.
It’s an accommodating vehicle.
So when I knew that I’d be logging more than 1,000 kilometres in a week, perhaps you’d think I’m a little crazy to want to take this (relatively) heavy and large SUV along for the ride. Normally, I would too. But there’s a word in its name that made me want to take this beauty of a beast for the long haul: Hybrid.
As I entered the Flaxen (aka beige) adorned cabin, I reached for the “Eco Mode” button underneath the redesigned centre stack. I gave that a push.
The Eco mode is a feature that lessens the throttle response in an effort to help save fuel. You can still do all your normal daily driving duties, it just helps you keep money where it should be: in your wallet. And keeps the fuel where it should be: in the tank.
Granted, in Eco Mode, it doesn’t give you the peppy acceleration you might like. Then again, if prompt acceleration is what you’re after, skip the Eco Mode and that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Whether I was driving in the city or on the highway, the Highlander has a smoothness to it that makes me love being behind the wheel. It cruises effortlessly atop the pavement and makes the driver and passengers feel at ease. Especially when you know you’re going the distance.
I even had one passenger say to me, “If we were in here any longer, I could’ve fallen asleep! It’s so comfortable.”
Good thing they weren’t driving.
The suspension is composed of front Macpherson struts and a rear double wishbone type, trailing arms set up. Toyota gets an A+ for ride comfort. And it’s arguably one of the best in its class.
Aiding in establishing a serene setting is a host of creature comforts like heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, second row captain’s chairs, easy access to the third row, keyless entry, navigation, an 8-inch touchscreen and much more.
We’ve already established its size, and while it fits up to seven, it doesn’t feel that big to drive. Sure, you need to make sure you watch its width but manoeuvring it around in parking lots isn’t a chore at all. Thanks to its rack and pinion-type, electric power steering, you can move around graciously.
Though this is not my first hybrid SUV that I’ve tested, I am always excited to see how well these machines perform in regards to fuel economy.
After all, there’s a 3.5L, V6 engine under the hood, which is then matched with an electric motor, a Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride battery and an Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT). The result is a net 280 horsepower. There’s also a 1,587 kg (3,500 lbs.) towing capacity.
Looking at the estimated fuel results, it’s rated at 6.8L/100km in the city and 7.2L/100km on the highway. Keep in mind the aforementioned stats about its size and weight and those numbers are really impressive.
My real world numbers? A combined average of 8.9L/100km. Not bad. Not bad at all. Most of my driving was done on the highway so the hybrid system doesn’t have a chance to run off electricity alone at those speeds.
Oh, and it’s all-wheel drive. Sun or snow, this SUV is ready for it all.
With fuel prices hovering around the $1.50/litre mark, the more kilometres I can get out of a tank, the better. And the Highlander Hybrid made me a very happy gal.
The conclusion: The 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD is competent, potent and a fabulous sport utility vehicle even in Eco Mode where the fun is a little bit restricted.
The MSRP for the 2014 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD is $52,695.
Visit www.toyota.ca for more information.
Hyundai would like to put a serious dent in the Toyota Camry success story with its own mid-size sedan – the redesigned Sonata…
NEW YORK, New York.
There was more sizzle in my New York steak dinner than on the show floor at the Big Apple’s international auto show.
Nissan did not disappoint with the unveiling of a classy looking crossover in the shape of the all-wheel drive 2015 Nissan Murano. The mid-size model first showed up in 2002 and this new model marks the birth of the third-generation. The Nissan-named V-Motion nose and boomerang-shaped taillights ensure it makes an impression on the observer, coming and going, and distinguishes itself from its rivals.
Inside, up to five passengers can expect more of a luxury ride than they might have enjoyed in the outgoing version – heated and cooled front seats will impress those upfront. The trend in this segment to include huge sunroofs continues here.
Under the hood, Nissan stays with the trusty 3.5-litre six-cylinder powerplant matched to a continuously variable transmission. Expect to see the Murano in the showrooms at the tail end of the year.
Before moving on, the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept should be mentioned as it offers a clue to what the new Maxima might resemble. And boy, is it a looker despite the horrible orange colour of the show car! It too features a panoramic roof stretching almost from the windshield to the rear window. A production model version is expected later in the year, which suggests the L.A. show might benefit from that timetable.
Any new Toyota Camry is an instant hit, especially in North America where it’s been the best selling car for 12 years. Despite that, the Japanese manufacturer launched an all-new 2015 model, just three years after introducing a redesign.
It incorporates design touches now appearing in sibling models, including a deeper grille that more resembles an upmarket Lexus. Interior materials are upgraded and a large central display matches the design trend of its competitors. Two trims are added; a sporty XSE with some luxury touches and a Hybrid SE. Toyota sticks with its 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, and 3.5-litre, six-cylinder engines plus its Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Hyundai would like to put a serious dent in the Toyota Camry success story with its own mid-size sedan – the redesigned Sonata. It’s likely the introduction of a sharp looking Sonata in 2011 helped prompt Toyota into taking a serious look at upping the ante in the Camry. Other competitors have also risen to the challenge. Now the seventh-generation, newly styled, sharper looking 2015 Sonata raises the bar again with improved ride and handling plus advanced driver assistance and safety equipment.
Unlike the Camry, the Sonata stays with purely four-cylinder engines. Standard is a 2.4-litre power plant and a turbocharged 2.0L four is an option.
The one domestic manufacturer that did show up with something more exciting than the rest was Jeep, which introduced the compact Renegade. It is the iconic brand’s first foray into the small SUV segment.
Its funky looks and fuel efficiency should make it an urban dweller hit but it also boasts best-in-class off-road capability, which may just bring in buyers from the growing outdoor adventure seekers.
Two engine choices: a 2.4-litre Tigershark engine with MultiAir2 paired to the segment’s first nine-speed automatic transmission, or a 1.4-litre MultiAir Turbo engine with six-speed manual transmission.
Prices for all of the above closer to launch when pencils have been sharpened and each figure out how they can undercut competitors!
A very good family crossover that will get the job done every day… (more…)