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2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD Test Drive Review

I can say with confidence I haven’t been inside a Toyota Highlander since the second-generation model, which came out well before 2010. Interestingly enough, since then, the Toyota Highlander has grown to become one of the best vehicles in its segment. But I just never had the opportunity (and now I would say the “privilege”) to drive the third-generation model. So you can imagine my interest being peaked when I found out I’d get to spend some time with the 2018 Toyota Highlander.

As a single male with no kids, I never really looked at cars that compete in this segment. However, when I picked up the 2018 Toyota Highlander for a week-long review, I was instantly struck by its stunning exterior design and stylish interior. I was also struck by the fact that it had a V-6 engine under the hood, when I’m so used to every automaker making a beeline for four-cylinder turbos.

Toyota Highlander

2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD Exterior

As mentioned above, I was completely surprised by the stylish and strong look of the 2018 Toyota Highlander. Its sharp, bold, and tough design cues show the days of mundane Toyota exterior designs are long gone. This is a vehicle that immediately grabs your attention.

The front end of the 2018 Toyota Highlander is highlighted by a giant grille and bold headlamps that feature a daytime running LED strip. From the back, the Toyota Highlander features LED taillights that give it a more cohesive and grown-up look.

Size wise, the Toyota Highlander has definitely grown up. Competing with the likes of the Honda Pilot and the Nissan Pathfinder, the Toyota Highlander sits on a wheelbase that measures 109.8 inches with an overall length of 192.5 inches (a little more than four inches over the second-generation model). The width of the Highlander comes in at 75.8-inches, while the height stands at 68.1-inches.

Overall, I was very impressed with the exterior design of the 2018 Toyota Highlander. You can clearly tell that Toyota’s design team is firing on all cylinders and making sure their vehicles are some of the stylish on the road.

Toyota Highlander

2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD Interior

Take a seat inside and you’ll notice that the interior of the third-generation Toyota Highlander is extremely roomy. Since the length of the Highlander has been significantly increased, you now have a third-row and massive amounts of legroom for all passengers.

Dimensions wise, front-row passengers can enjoy a total of 44.2 inches of legroom while second-row passengers enjoy a total of 38.4 inches. Third-row passengers get a total legroom of 27.7 inches. I took a weekend trip with four passengers with the 2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD, and everyone was pretty pleased by the comfort they enjoyed during the three-hour drive.

Our 2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD came with a bunch of standard features including tri-zone climate control, backup camera, Toyota’s Entune infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth (phone and audio streaming capabilities), leather seats, heated front seats, second-row captain seats, five USB ports, two 12V auxiliary power outlets, one 120V auxiliary AC power, and a range of safety features that we’ll get into later. What we didn’t find was Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity — which is a feature that’s starting to become a standard option in most vehicles of today.

Overall, we were very satisfied with the level of outstanding build quality and passenger comfort. While most competitors seem to slack off when it comes to the second and third row, the Toyota Highlander has made sure that each and every passenger enjoys comfort and the ability to charge their cellular devices via USB.

Toyota Highlander

2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD Performance

As mentioned above, I was very shocked with the V-6 offering in the Toyota Highlander. While many automakers are shying away from large engines, Toyota offers a 3.5-liter V-6 which produces 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. Nonetheless, there is a four-cylinder engine available if you’re concerned with saving some more money at the pump.

The V-6 engine in the 2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that allows it to go from zero to 60 mph in seven seconds and hit a top speed of 115 mph. Maximum towing weight for the V-6 Highlander models comes in at 5,000 lbs.

Fuel economy wise, the 2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD gets an EPA-rated 19/26 mpg* (city/highway).

While the 2018 Toyota Highlander may not be as agile as some of its rivals, it does provide a top-notch level of comfort during long drives, and enough power to allow you to comfortable move in and out of traffic.

Toyota Highlander

2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD Safety

Safety is where the 2018 Toyota Highlander really shines. All 2018 Toyota Highlander models come standard with the brand’s Safety Sense P (TSS-P) Package. That gives you a range of standard driver asset technologies including pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high-beam, and adaptive cruise control. You also get the Star Safety System as standard which adds on stability control, traction control, anti-lock brake system, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, and smart stop technology.

2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD Overall

Overall, I was genuinely impressed with the 2018 Toyota Highlander SE AWD. For starting price tag of $41,550**, there’s nothing more that the Toyota Highlander SE AWD left us desiring, as the only package you can really add on top of all the standard features is the rear-entertainment Blu-ray system. If you’re in the market for a three-row crossover, the 2018 Toyota Highlander should definitely be on your list. Visit your local AutoNation Toyota dealer and schedule a test drive today.

*Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

**MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

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