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The 2019 Toyota Highlander is friendly, safe, and dependable. It’s not particularly spectacular in anything, but that’s its best quality. See what we have to say.

What’s New for the 2019 Toyota Highlander

While saving things for the 2020 redo, Toyota still rolls in some exterior beauty treatments for the 2019 Toyota Highlander. A few models get some new body-side molding, blacked-out trim, and LED fog lamps.

The good thing is that nothing changes this Golden Retriever of an SUV. It’s still comfortable, happy to do something for you, and effortless to live with. So, let’s see if you’ll want to take it home.

2019 Toyota Highlander

2019 Toyota Highlander – pressroom.toyota.com |  Shop 2019 Toyota Highlander on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $32,365

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

21 City / 29 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 8

The Breakdown

We like the exterior design

We like the standard safety technology

We like the build quality

We would love a more capable engine

We would love better gas mileage for the base V6

2019 Highlander Specs

Trims & Pricing

LE - $32,950
LE Plus - $37,880
XLE - $40,840
SE - $42,060
Limited - $44,050
Limited Platinum - $47,170

2019 Toyota Highlander Powertrain

2019 Toyota Highlander - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander - carsforsale.com

The Highlander is the Toyota Camry of SUVs. It’s not a high horsepower RAM or quick-handling Audi and not even a Mazda CX-something. But it is comfortable, easy to drive, and won’t have the personality to get you into trouble. Some may complain about that but, for a family hauler, no drama means a lot.

A caveat on all of that is the base model four-cylinder. We’re not exactly sure why Toyota put this little guy in service for such a heavy vehicle. It struggles to move the Highlander along and doesn’t even reward you with good gas mileage. The truth is, Toyota’s V6 gets better gas mileage than the supposedly thrifty four-cylinder. 

2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com
2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com

All trims are available with AWD should you want that system. And if you desire to be a little more efficient, there’s the optional Hybrid V6 that also churns out a high of 306 horsepower. We’re fans of all-wheel drive in any season because of the extra control you have on the rear of an SUV. It always seems to keep things tidy back there, should you need to do quick maneuvers. 

We won’t give you the impression that the 2019 Toyota Highlander is a closet sports car – it’s not. But Toyota makes one of those if you want it. But we will say that the Highlander transmission takes care of you when you need to accelerate, and the suspension soaks up everything very well while the steering is solid and communicative. For an SUV, the Highlander does an excellent job keeping you out of trouble and comforting everyone riding with you. 

If you choose the Hybrid, it has more horsepower, but you have to contend with a CVT. But you get standard AWD drive in the process, so maybe it’s a wash. On the other hand, the CVT is smoother than the standard transmission and doesn’t get too noisy. We didn’t drive the Hybrid model, but you’ll feel more torque and the extra ten horsepower given the engine output.

Towing & Payload

2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com
2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com

For towing, the Toyota Highlander pulls up to 1500 lbs with the four-cylinder or up to 5,000 lbs with the V6. For how most SUV owners will use their vehicles, this capacity fits in with the rest of the competition.

2019 Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy & MPG

As expected, the EPA gives the 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid the highest fuel figures. In the city, the Hybrid pulled in 27 mpg on the highway, and, in the city streets, you’ll get an impressive 30 mpg. With the V6, on the LE and up, highway mileage per gallon is the same as the Hybrid at 27. In the city, you’ll get an estimated 20 mpg. Unfortunately, the four-cylinder is the cow’s tail of the bunch at 19 city and 24 hwy. Oh well, it tries hard. 

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

The 2019 Toyota Highlander welcomes you to take it with you wherever you go. It’s tranquil on the highways, except for times when you’re accelerating and a great place to take long trips and short runs to the grocery store. Toyota has focus-grouped current and future buyers to the point that they know what the market is needing. And as a result, the interior often reflects the solid, high quality, and well-thought-out interiors everyone wants. The 2019 Highlander continues that tradition.

The standard cloth manual adjustable seats are very comfortable and grippy, even in the second-row bench that reclines and slides. And there’s even a standard 60/40-fold down on the second row. From the front seats, you can reach everything except for the long reach to the touch screen. Regardless of that, audio controls are on your steering wheel, and the rest of the switchgear has the high-quality feel that Toyota strives for.

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The bench seat gets replaced by captain’s chairs in the LE Plus and above. We like those since they allow easy access to the third row and they’re very comfortable for all family members. Overall, we would recommend the leather seats that come standard in the XLE and up. They’re power-adjustable and easy to clean. 

Since the second-row bench is gone, the third row gets the 60/40 function that helps when using the auto liftgate standard on every trim except the LE. And about that third row, it will work for kids but keep the adults away.

Regarding cargo, Toyota does an excellent job with cubbies and pockets from the dash back to the tailgate of the Highlander. Cargo space isn’t anything spectacular but matches most of the competition. The area behind the rear seat has 13.8 cu ft which will absorb all your groceries. With the rows down, you have a very flat 83.7 cubic feet to play in. This area will flex based on your storage needs with the rear 60/40 seat and captain’s chairs. 

Entertainment & Technology

2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com
2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com

The 2019 Toyota Highlander continues Toyota’s standard of putting tech into their vehicles. The base model LE gets a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, and five USB ports. That’s right, you don’t see Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and it won’t be on any Highlander trims for 2019. 

The infotainment software responds quickly and doesn’t look horrible, although it’s not HD. The base system’s sound quality is just okay but useable. You have to upgrade to the JBL system if you want better sound, which requires a more expensive model trim. Those of us with shorter arms may find the reach for commonly used controls like the AC, radio, and USB to be a bit long. So be prepared for that and be grateful for the steering wheel-mounted controls. 

Toyota’s innovative surround-view camera and tri-zone automatic climate control, plus other conveniences, are available on higher trims.

Safety Features

With many manufacturers still hiding the base model from receiving safety assist, Toyota’s Safety Sense P is available on all models. It includes pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with steering assist, a pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking, auto high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Surprisingly, the only driver-assist options are blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors. Bravo Toyota. Are you listening, Chevy?

If you’re ever involved in a crash, the 2019 Toyota Highlander will protect you. The Highlander picked up a five-star award from the NHTSA and a coveted Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Trims & Pricing

2019 Toyota Highlander LE - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander LE - carsforsale.com

LE – starting at $32,950

The base trim Highlander LE’s standard interior features include rear air conditioning, heated side mirrors, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth, and several USB ports. Safety features include a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, and forward-collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.

2019 Toyota Highlander LE Plus - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander LE Plus - carsforsale.com

LE Plus – starting at $37,880

The LE Plus takes the LE and adds an 8-inch touchscreen, power-adjustable driver’s seat with upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and tri-zone automatic climate control. For active and passive safety, you get fog lights, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. You’ll also appreciate the standard 295 horsepower V6 that replaces the base model’s four-cylinder

2019 Toyota Highlander XLE - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander XLE - carsforsale.com

XLE- starting at $40,840

The 2019 Toyota XLE model is what many people will buy. This high-value trim comes with heated leather-trimmed power-adjusting front seats, push-button start, and navigation. Next, turn your gaze upward to the moonroof, chrome roof rails, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. For the second row, passengers get comfortable captain’s chairs, sunshades, and a 120V outlet. A helpful yet fun added feature is Toyota’s Driver Easy Speak system, so you don’t have to yell at your kids. 

2019 Toyota Highlander SE - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander SE - carsforsale.com

SE- starting at$42,060

The SE, presumably standing for “sports edition,” gets blacked-out trim, LED fog lights, some nice-looking 19-inch wheels, and a “sport-tuned” suspension. Interior upgrades are the LED ambient lighting.

2019 Toyota Highlander Limited - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander Limited - carsforsale.com

Limited – starting at $44,050

The 2019 Toyota Highlander Limited adds luxury features like perforated leather, a 12-speaker JBL audio system (but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto), and one-touch power up/down for all windows. 

2019 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum - carsforsale.com
2019 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum - carsforsale.com

Limited Platinum – starting at $47,170

For the extra $3,000, you’ll get a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and Toyota’s excellent surround-view camera system. 

Warranties

The 2019 Toyota Highlander has a three-year/36,000-mile and five-year/60,000-mile warranty which is obviously not like a Hyundai warranty. Good news is that the Highlander, and most Toyota vehicles, is rock-solid reliable year-after-year.

What we think

2019 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com

2019 Toyota Highlander – pressroom.toyota.com |  Shop 2019 Toyota Highlander on Carsforsale.com

We think the 2019 Toyota Highlander is comfortable, dependable, protects you, and doesn’t cause trouble. No, it’s not the biggest or the fastest, but it does what you desire because it wants to please you. So, you’ll be happy to see it every day.

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Steven Mitchell

Steven Mitchell began his automotive journey with a fully restored Triumph TR3B. After earning a bachelor's degree in Marketing and Television from the University of Texas, Steven used his passion for vehicles at an automotive marketing ad agency, and as the Manager of Interactive Marketing for Mitsubishi Motors, eventually winning an Effie for his advertising work. For the past decade, he's been writing car reviews, covering everything from SUVs and electric vehicles to original equipment manufacturer infotainment user interfaces.

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