What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name Highlander? If you grew up in the 1980s you might think of the series of British-American fantasy movies. But if you’re like most people, you’ll think of Toyota’s Midsize SUV, the Highlander. Built to tackle any challenge on or off-road, the Highlander has been a top seller for Toyota since its introduction. It was one of the first crossover SUVs to hit the market and has had many copycats since its introduction.
HISTORY OF TOYOTA HIGHLANDER
First Generation (2001-2007)
The Toyota Highlander was first introduced in 2001. The first generation model was available in both 5 and 7 seats variants with either front or all-wheel drive. Under the hood you’d find either a 2.4L 4-cylinder or 3.0L 6-cylinder. Later on in the first generation, the 3.0L was replaced by a 3.3L 6-cylinder. The only transmission option available in the U.S. was a 4-speed automatic, which was replaced by a 5-speed automatic later on in the design cycle.
In 2008, the second generation Highlander was introduced. It was larger in every way than its predecessor. Because of its increased size and weight, Toyota offered a new 3.5L 6-cylinder. The 4-speed automatic was also dropped and the 7-speed automatic became standard fair by the end of the generation. A hybrid version also made its debut during the second generation. Model year 2013 was the last appearance of the second generation. During that year, the Highlander remained virtually unchanged.
Second Generation (2014-present)
The Highlander was redesigned once again in 2014. The new model has shed most of its SUV character and become a complete crossover. Not surprisingly, the latest version is larger than the outgoing version, with seating for 8 people. The exterior is more rounded and bulbous, with a large front grille. A 6-speed automatic has been added for improved economy. Engine options include either a 2.7L 4-cylinder or 3.5L 6-cylinder. Other improvements included a new dashboard with larger available 8-inch touchscreen and available adaptive cruise control.
The crossover section is filled to capacity now and it got that way, partially because of the Highlander. There are many impersonators, but the crossover from Toyota is the original and arguably the best.