Changes for the 2015 Toyota Highlander:
Toyota introduced a redesigned Highlander for 2014, and the company makes no changes to the 2015 model.
The Toyota Highlander is sold in LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Hybrid Limited trim levels.
The Highlander LE is the only one offered with a 4-cylinder engine. Step up to the LE Plus, and a V-6 engine is standard, along with a nicer interior, an 8-way power driver’s seat, triple-zone automatic climate control, a power tailgate, and expanded infotainment features. Fog lights and fancier aluminum wheels identify the Highlander LE Plus.
Highlander XLE models are equipped with leather seats, keyless passive entry with push-button starting, a navigation system, Toyota’s Entune App Suite technology, and a Driver Easy Speak system. This version also has a power sunroof, heated front seats, manual sunshades for the second-row seats, and more.
Select the Highlander Limited for heated and ventilated front seats, individual second-row seats, a premium JBL audio system, and ambient lighting for a cabin highlighted with fake wood trim. This version also includes rear parking assist sensors and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic monitoring, and is easily identified by its LED running lights and 19-inch aluminum wheels.
Engines and Transmissions:
A 185-horsepower, 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard for the Highlander LE, paired only with front-wheel drive. Other models get a robust 270-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which is a pre-requisite for Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control all-wheel-drive system. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, and provides a manual shift mode with the V-6.
The Highlander Hybrid pairs the V-6 engine with front and rear electric assist motors fed by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack that’s recharged via regenerative brakes. All together, these components generate 280 horsepower, and because there are two electric assist motors, one in front and one in back, the result is a standard all-wheel-drive system.
Fuel Economy Ratings:
In combined driving, the Highlander LE gets 22 mpg while the LE Plus, XLE, and Limited return 21 mpg. Add AWD, and the rating for the latter three versions of the Highlander drops to 20 mpg. For superior fuel economy, get the Highlander Hybrid. It is rated to return 28 mpg in combined driving, which, over time, eventually offsets its added cost of $6,200.
If you get into a collision with a Toyota Highlander, rest assured that it does an excellent job of protecting its occupants. The NHTSA gives this SUV a 5-star overall crash-test rating while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calls the Highlander a “Top Safety Pick.”
The Highlander XLE and Limited are equipped with a Driver Easy Speak system that automatically amplifies the driver’s voice through the Highlander’s rear speakers, making it easy for all passengers to hear comments, questions, or admonishments. Limited models are available with Safety Connect, which supplies one year of free access to an SOS emergency call button, Automatic Collision Notification and other services. Additional upgrades include dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system, and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Written by Christian Wardlaw
October 7, 2014
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