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2015 Toyota Highlander: 5 Reasons to Buy - Video

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author photo by Josh Sadlier April 2015

How do you overhaul one of the most popular crossovers in the country? Cautiously. Very cautiously. The 2015 Toyota Highlander marks the second year of the current Highlander generation, and make no mistake, there are some real upgrades this time around. But Toyota's 3-row crossover also keeps the familiar virtues that Highlander devotees demand. Having spent many miles in the latest Highlander's saddle, we have five reasons why this Toyota is a perennial top pick.

Reinvented Cabin

One thing that sets the new Highlander apart is the impressive quality of its interior. Rivals from Dodge, Ford and Hyundai have all gone upscale inside, with supple surfaces and eye-catching trim, so Toyota had to follow suit. And that's exactly what the company has done. In the new Highlander, soft-touch materials are everywhere, and there's even fancy accent stitching on the dashboard. It's a premium environment that justifies the price. In fact, it's almost as nice as what you'll find in the luxury-market Lexus RX.

Seating for Eight

The previous Highlander only had two seats in the third row, but the new body is a little wider, enabling a third seating position to be installed in the back. That makes the Highlander one of the few midsize crossovers with a standard 8-passenger capacity. Notably, you can replace the second-row bench seat with optional captain's chairs, but the 3-passenger third row remains, so there's still room for seven. If you're looking for a crossover that's a genuine minivan substitute, the new Highlander is one of the few viable options.

Same V6, Sharper Transmission

The Highlander continues to use Toyota's battle-tested 3.5-liter V6, and that's great news. It's super-refined in normal operation, but when you plant your right foot, it blasts off like a rocket. The new 6-speed automatic transmission also deserves some credit; it replaces the discontinued 5-speed, and you can feel the difference. There's a little extra get-up-and-go when you pull out to pass, even though the engine is essentially unchanged.

Impressive Fuel Economy

The Highlander can also be specified with a cheaper 4-cylinder engine, but good luck finding one on a dealer lot. Why? Because the V6 gets the same highway rating of 25 miles per gallon as the 4-cylinder, and it's much more powerful. If you want all-wheel drive with your V6, by the way, you'll still see 25 mpg on the highway, so there's hardly any downside. That's impressive stuff from a 270-horsepower, 8-passenger crossover.

Composed Ride and Handling

At heart, the Highlander is a big ol' station wagon on stilts, but you wouldn't know it from the way it handles the road. On the contrary, it feels surprisingly athletic for such a substantial vehicle. The suspension now employs double wishbones in the rear, and the result is less body roll and more composure in corners, without compromising the traditionally smooth ride quality. This Highlander has all the moves.

Autotrader Says

Is the 2015 Toyota Highlander the best 3-row crossover in its class? Drop by your Toyota dealer and see what you think.

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Used 2015 Toyota Highlander AWD Limited V6
Used 2015 Toyota Highlander
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Used 2015 Toyota Highlander AWD XLE V6
Used 2015 Toyota Highlander
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Used 2015 Toyota Highlander AWD LE V6
Used 2015 Toyota Highlander
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Used 2015 Toyota Highlander AWD XLE V6
Used 2015 Toyota Highlander
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Toyota Highlander: 5 Reasons to Buy - Video - Autotrader