Toyota’s latest contender for the full-size SUV segment is the 2011 Highlander which is revised in every aspect and features such as new front fascia, hood and fenders, new standard three-row seating with rear climate control, new four-cylinder and upgraded V6 engine, and new innovative technologies. The 2011 Highlander is available in Base, SE and Limited grades in both two-wheel (2WD) and full-time four-wheel-drive (4WD).
As for the design, the 2011 Highlander comes with redesigned headlights and tail lamps and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Limited Grade offers stylish 19-inch wheels and also features silver roof rails. The SE grade gains a power liftgate. To be distinguished form normal models, The 2011 Highlander Hybrid gets its own unique grille and bumper design as well as color-keyed rockers with chrome accents, plus vertically stacked fog lamps. The projector beam headlights and redesigned taillights feature blue lens covers. Daytime running lamps are now standard on all Highlander models.
The new models also focus on more comfort and convenience. The new Tech Audio is standard for SE and Limited and optional for Base grade and features a USB port, integrated XM Satellite Radio (includes 90-day trial subscription) and Bluetooth®, helping ensure a wide array of “connected” capabilities for passengers. In the Base grade, this is part of a more comprehensive package that also includes a backup monitor with 3.5-inch multi-information display, an eight-way power drivers seat, tonneau cover, engine immobilizer, easy-clean fabric interior, flip-up liftgate window, fog lamps and black roof rails.
The Highlander Hybrid base grade offers a new Leather Package that includes leather-trimmed front seats with front seat heaters, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, power moonroof, HomeLink®, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, plus an engine immobilizer with security alarm. The optional navigation system is now available for the SE grade (previously only on Limited), while the Limited gains standard automatic climate control for the rear and offers a new perforated leather. The Highlander Hybrid Base grade gains standard easy-clean fabric seating, along with an eight-way power driver’s seat, the Tech Audio, the third-row seat and manual rear climate control.
As for the engines, the 2011 Toyota Highlander can be had with three different units. There’s a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine joined the lineup in 2009, offering an EPA-estimated 25 MPG rating and delivering 187 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of peak torque.
The other option is the 3.5-liter V6 (standard on Limited) produces 270 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 RPM. The V6, also, is equipped with dual VVT-i and a variable intake manifold. A five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) offers selectable manual sequential shifting.
And finally the Highlander Hybrid model’s Hybrid Synergy Drive features a new, more powerful 3.5-liter V6 for 2011, replacing the previous 3.3-liter V6. The system pairs the gasoline V6 engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator for total system output of 280 net horsepower. A second rear-mounted motor provides automatic on-demand four-wheel drive traction. The 2011 Highlander Hybrid receives EPA estimated fuel economy ratings of 28 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.
The Highlander continues to build on its strength of delivering one of the most capable, smooth and quiet rides in the segment. Four-wheel independent suspension is via MacPherson struts in front and a dual-link strut rear suspension system. Base and SE Highlander models are equipped with standard 17-inch alloy wheels with 245/65 R17 tires; the Limited features standard 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/55 R19 tires. A direct tire pressure monitoring system is designed to alert the driver if pressure in a tire drops to critical levels. All Highlander models are equipped with four-wheel disc brakes. On conventional Highlander 4WD models, full-time four-wheel drive is available on all V6 grades.
The car also gets lots of safety features including Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electric Power Steering (EPS) and the anti-lock brake system (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA).
The MSRP for Highlander will begin at $27,390 for the base four-cylinder two-wheel drive model; the SE V6 two-wheel drive will be $33,150, while the Limited V6 four wheel-drive model will be $36,345. The MSRP for Highlander Hybrid will range from $37,290 for the base model to $42,945 for the Limited model.