With its fuel-efficient engine lineup,
Representing the seventh year of the model cycle, the 2007 Toyota Highlander is the oldest midsize crossover SUV on the market. Like most Toyotas, though, it was well designed from the start and has aged gracefully over the years. Key strengths include a comfortable ride, easy maneuverability in tight spaces, above-average gas mileage and a high-quality interior with ample room in the first and second rows. Toyota added a third-row seat in 2004 to keep up with newer rivals, but it's more of an afterthought than it is functional and buyers who need seven-passenger capacity will be better served by one of the Highlander's competitors. For families of four, though, the Toyota Highlander remains an acceptable choice, especially considering its many standard safety features and strong crash-test ratings.
Based on the 1997-2001 Camry platform, the Highlander immediately won over consumers with its refined driving dynamics. At a time when most SUVs in this price range were still built on truck platforms and were unwieldy to drive, Toyota gave buyers the equivalent of a tall station wagon with optional all-wheel drive and a choice of a frugal four-cylinder or a smooth V6 engine. Make no mistake: The Toyota Highlander has never been a particularly stylish or sporty vehicle. Rather, it's a highly practical and economical vehicle for buyers whose lives are consumed by children, commutes and grocery store runs.
The problem is that the Highlander's useful packaging has been copied many times over, and many peers are now doing it better. Perhaps the stiffest competition comes from Toyota's own RAV4, which is now almost as big as the Highlander and offers just as much headroom and legroom. In addition, the less expensive RAV handles better and can be equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that's more powerful and fuel-efficient than the Highlander's 3.3-liter V6. Other competitors you'll want to consider include the Ford Edge; Honda Pilot; Hyundai Santa Fe; Mazda CX-7 and CX-9; Mitsubishi Outlander and Endeavor; Nissan Murano and the Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook triplets. All of these vehicles have their merits, but the well-rounded Pilot, Santa Fe