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2002 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Crossover

4dr 4-Cyl (Natl)

Starting at | Starting at 22 MPG City - 27 MPG Highway

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  • $23,880 original MSRP
Printable Version

2002 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

2002 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Crossover


2002 Toyota Highlander

Source: New Car Test Drive

Base Price (MSRP) $23,995
As Tested (MSRP) $30,470

Toyota is determined to have the best-outfitted SUV stores on the planet with an array of both truck and car-based models ranging from cute-ute size to Suburban fighters. Five different sport-utilities are now available from Toyota, and that's not even counting the two from Lexus. Toyota's goal: meeting every need, want, taste and whim of the SUV shopper.

The new mid-size Highlander slots in as a car-based (uni-body) SUV slightly larger in capacity than the truck-based 4Runner. Like its kissing cousin, the Lexus RX300, the Toyota Highlander offers lots of flexibility when it comes to carrying people and cargo. It totes four people comfortably, five less so. Alternatively, the seats can be folded down for cargo carrying.

The Highlander performs decorously on street and highway pretending to be a car. Yet it can swallow with ease impromptu buys at flea markets and get them home despite sudden worsening of the weather. Women went gaga over the Lexus RX 300 and will be equally at home in this variation from Toyota. Men of a practical bent will like the more utilitarian attitude of the Highlander. Everyone will cheer the obvious value: for all its shared components the Highlander is some $8,000 to $10,000 less than the RX 300.

Model Lineup

Highlander is available with either full-time four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. There's also a choice of engines: A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine comes standard, and is rated at 155 horsepower. A 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 220 horsepower is optional. All come with automatic transmissions.

One well-equipped model is available, which comes standard with air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control, cloth upholstery, and anti-lock brakes. Prices start at $23,995 (including destination charge), which includes a four-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive. Options increase prices for this and all Highlanders, however. The V6 adds nearly $1600. Full-time four-wheel drive adds $1400. We highly recommend the optional Traction Control with Vehicle Skid Control ($850) for all front-drive models, and especially with the V6 ($25,575). The 4WD V6 model retails for $26,975.

Options such as leather upholstery, power seats drive the price up. Side-impact air bags are an option for $250. We drove a loaded 4WD V6 model that totaled $30,470, and a well-equipped 2WD four-cylinder model that came to $27,150.


The Toyota Highlander is smart and trim looking falling somewhere between the edgy high style of the RAV4 and the intense purposefulness of the 4Runner (both smaller than the Highlander). The Highlander is actually roomier than the upscale Lexus RX 300. The family resemblance to the Lexus is evident but the Highlander is dressed down a little, rather like wearing faded jeans and a favorite windbreaker instead of dry-clean-only lunch-with-the-ladies attire.

Entry, both for cargo and for people, is easier than in truck-based SUVs. With its more car-like step-in and lift-into the Highlander is even friendly to wearers of tight skirts. Not so the usual truck-based SUV.

Interior Features

A tidy, well-conceived interior becomes almost instantly invisible because everything is in the place best suited for it and thus never calls attention to itself. For instance, the power window buttons are immediately under the finger. The ventilation ducts are just there where your hand would expect to find them. The radio and heater controls are simple dials and amply-sized buttons. Intuitively you use them and forget them. The instruments are readily visible through a panoramic space in the four-spoke wheel. And as for the steering wheel itself, the hands fall naturally onto it at the proper driving position.

The whole layout bespeaks thoughtful appraisal and wise choices. Wood and chrome touches warm and brighten the Limited edition. The seats are supportive and comfortable and adjustable to suit various size drivers. Part of the appeal of SUVs is the ease of seeing out at every angle. And so it is here. The sloping hood of the Highlander makes the forward view even more encompassing.

The shifter for the four-speed automatic (the only transmission available) is uniquely positioned more as a part of the dash than on a central console. This opens up the space between the front seats. It also lends an open, unconfined air to the cockpit. The interior is outfitted with dome, door courtesy, glove box and cargo area lighting. Map pockets, visor mirrors, and front and rear auxiliary power outlets are provided. V6 models come with aluminum interior accents.

Highlander comes with reclining front bucket seats in front, and a three-passenger 60/40 split fold-down reclining bench in the rear. An eight-way power adjustable driver's seat ($390) is optional; dual heated front seats ($440) are available for V6 models. Leather Package ($1015) includes upholstery, door trim panel inserts.

Driving Impressions

The inexorable logic of the Highlander's layout carries over into the driving experience. It is a vehicle that feels instantly familiar. No fumbling for controls. The Highlander is quieter than truck-based SUVs both in engine and road noises. It rides smoothly on a variety of surfaces, true to the car side of its SUV heritage.

The steering is sedan-like with an appropriate feel. The braking (ABS standard) is certain and smooth. Acceleration is nimble enough. We expected this in the V6 test car, but found the four-cylinder version to be a happy performer as well. Toyota expects the V6 4WD version to be the best-selling Highlander.

All the “nice-that nice-this” is beginning to make the Highlander sound a little pedestrian and perhaps even dull. Not the case. After a stretch of allowing the straightforward competence of the vehicle to expand into admiration something else begins to creep onto the scene: appeal. Though not as instantly endearing as the RAV4, the Highlander nonetheless grows on you. It may not deliver a quick jolt to the brain's pleasure center, but it does gradually blossom there into a sense of general well-being and satisfaction. A smile even forms. Indeed at one point I startled my driving companion with a shouted: “Hey! I like this Highlander.”

Our first drive began with city meandering. The Highlander seemed at home amidst the traffic lights and parking seekers, a good size for this work. Rolling into suburbia the Highlander fit right in. It's a natural mall-crawler, maneuverable and quick to nose into a parking slot. Steering effort is very light at low speeds, so it's easy to turn in tight quarters.

Then our touring test began, with multi-lane highways and lesser roads. After determining that dry pavement was a snap for the Highlander whether on gradual climbing curves or twisty descending esses we went searching for more challenge to stretch the willing beastie. We found some sloppy snow melt, a few muddy ruts, icy patches on shadowed curves and even a road meandering upward that was deep with unplowed snow. The Highlander, uncomplaining, dealt with the tasks like an expert speller in the early stages of a championship bee. As it cut upward through eight inches of newly fallen snow like a snowplow on a rescue mission I again startled my companion: “Hey, I like this Highlander, a LOT!”

The Highlander, again, is intended to be primarily a varied-use highway and street vehicle with in-built peace of mind for rough weather and back-roads surefootedness to fishing and ski venues. It is not meant for boulder bashing and serious off-road driving. The absence of a low-low creeper gear makes really steep downhill descents toward cliff rims perhaps more exciting than they need be, but the point is: this platform that the RX 300 and Highlander share is more capable in demanding situations than the marketing managers prefer to publicize. After all, the company has specialists for every SUV use, no need to stretch one to fit all.

We've also driven a front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Highlander with traction control. It makes for a superb station wagon for the city and suburbs. It's far easier to deal with on a daily basis than a truck-based sport-utility. Though you ride a little taller, you look eye to eye at Volvo wagon drivers. Sliding in and out is easy, with no need to climb up or down. This is a quick, sprightly car with the four-cylinder engine, and it's smooth and quiet. It gets better fuel economy (22/27 mpg city/highway vs. 18/22 for the V6).

Final Word

The bottom line looms large in the acquisition of a vehicle and not just in the original transaction, but also down the line. What is it worth? The name Toyota has over the years come to mean longevity, absence of problems and an unparalleled ability to hold value. That's not a bad rep to have. This all translates to high residuals at the end of a lease or high trade-in or re-sale value when it's time to buy a new one. This sustained-value state of affairs with Toyota can sometimes confuse buyers because with such vehicles there's often little wheeling and dealing at the front end. A competitor can offer what seems to be a much better buy on a similar rig. Buyers should be reminded that the important figure is what a vehicle will cost for its entire time in their possession - what it costs to bring it into their life, to keep it running and insured and how much it pays back as it exits their employ. Toyota excels in this life-cycle costing. The Highlander, opening with such apparent value for money, should be a champion in that regard. It's worth a top location on your look-at list.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.


Printable Version

2002 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Crossover

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Opt

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Opt
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std


Alarm Opt
Printable Version

2002 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Crossover

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Toyota Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Warranty*

7-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty**

1-year of Roadside Assistance***

160-Point Quality Assurance Inspection

CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportTM****

Certified customers are eligible for standard new car financing rates*****

*Whichever comes first from date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. The Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship. (Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.)

**Whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. See your Toyota Certified Used Vehicles dealer for warranty details. Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For AL, FL, GA, NC & SC, warranty coverage differs in the following ways: 7-year or 100,000-mile Toyota Certified Limited Powertrain Warranty coverage begins on January 1st of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles.

***From date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. Covers most services, including flat tires, lockout service, jump starts, fuel delivery up to 3 gallons and towing for mechanical breakdown or collision recovery to the nearest Toyota dealership. Services provided exclude any parts required. Coverage not available in Mexico. See Certified Warranty Supplement for warranty details.

****Beginning December 1, 2005 CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportsTM are a required part of every Toyota Certified Used Vehicle. See your local dealer for details.

*****Rates mentioned are for standard new car rates, and do not include new car specials or subvented rates. Not all buyers will qualify. Financing available through Toyota Financial Services for qualified buyers only.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 7 years / 85,000
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection All TCUV vehicles must pass a comprehensive checklist that includes a 160-point inspection. This way you can rest assured that your pre-owned Toyota is in perfect condition. To see full inspection list visit http://www.toyotacertified.com/inspection.html
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 1-year of Roadside Assistance from date of TCUV purchase.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2002 Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Crossover

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