2012 Toyota Highlander

Although reviewers haven’t yet had a chance to test drive Toyota’s latest offering to the mid-size SUV market, the 2012 Toyota Highlander has definitely struck a chord in the family SUV market.

If you need to carry seven passengers comfortably, the Highlander definitely fits the bill. And if it is driving the family round town, the steering makes parking a cinch compared to some of the bulkier 7-seaters in the marketplace.


General Info
Vehicle Type: Midsize SUV Base Price: $28,240.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 19.2 gallons (72.6 liters) MPG: 20 city / 25 hwy
Length: 188.4 in. (478.5 cm) Wheel Base: 109.8 in. (278.8 cm)
Height: 68.1 in. (172.9 cm) Width: 75.2 in. (191 cm)
Curb Weight: 3946 lbs (1789 kg) Ground Clearance: 8 in. (20.3 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 42.3 cu ft-behind 2nd row Maximum Seating: 7 people
Engine: 16-valve, 4 Cylinder DOHC Displacement: 2.7 Liter
Horsepower: 187 HP Max RPM: 5800 RPM
Torque: 186 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Max Towing Capacity: 1500 lbs (680 kgs) Maximum Speed: NA
Available Trims & Engine
Option:SE MSRP: $33,505; MPG: 20 city / 25 hwy
Option:Limited 3.5L V6 MSRP: $36,405; MPG: 18 city / 24 hwy
Option:Hybrid 4WD 3.5L V6 MSRP: $39,350; MPG: 28 city / 28 hwy


Toyota is not trying to emulate a sports style when they created the Highlander, and the 2012 model has kept with those goals.

The base model comes as a 2.7L DOHC 4 cylinder engine that produces 187 HP and a 186 lb-ft of torque. A 6 cylinder power-train is available for those who need more power. It comes with a 6 speed auto-transmission and power steering that make it a great family vehicle with enough punch to get away from the traffic when you need to.


The previous Highlander was a facelift model, so you won’t find much difference in the outside specs on the 2012 edition. Toyota stays with the standard features that made the 2011 model such a success.

The window spacing provides excellent visibility for driver and passengers alike – high enough to make it look the part (this is no car!), but soft lines that won’t mistake it for a truck!


The upholstery and above average plastics used on the interior make this a quality vehicle. But with seven passengers, space is always going to be an issue. Reviewers say that the second row is adult size seating and the third row, with the second row moved forward, is better than some.

But there’s no doubting that it’s a comfortable ride for seven people with loads of storage areas, including a sizeable central console, catering to 10 cup holders and 4 bottle holders. A CD player, auxiliary audio jack, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering wheel and cruise control are all standard features on the basic 2012 Highlander model.

The cargo space comes in at 95.4 cubic meters with all the seats down. But put a passenger in each seat and your cargo space goes down to 10.3 cubic feet – not a lot of room for gear compared with other models out there.


Toyota’s impressive safety record continues with the new Highlander which boasts of three row roll-sensing side curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag and brake assist and hill start assist as standard.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it a 5/5 for side crash safety and a 4/5 for frontal and rollover tests. It doesn’t get much safer than that. One issue that reviewers have raised, though, is the reduction in the driver’s rear visibility due to the second row headrests and roof pillars…not really a safety issue but something you should be aware of.


Once again, Toyota offers its own confidence in its product with a three year/36,000 miles basic warranty (upgradeable to the powertrain warranty – five year/60,000 miles). ToyotaCare is standard on the Highlander – that means complimentary factory scheduled maintenance at two years/25,000 miles.

If you are looking for a seven passenger vehicle that gives you a smooth ride at an affordable price, you can’t ignore the 2012 Highlander. And if you are looking for easy access to all seven seats, you will love the slide fold second row seat – arguably providing the most user-friendly third row access in the market today! This is a great vehicle for the family – easy to drive, comfortable and affordable.


But if you need to use the full seven seat capacity more often than not, you may want to check out the Chevrolet Traverse (MSRP $35,435; 16 city / 23 hwy) or Ford’s Flex (MSRP $30,290; 17 city / 24 hwy) which have adult size seats in all rows.

Overall Rating
76 out of 100

What others say:

“As for the driving experience, don’t expect much from it. All of the Highlander models tend to lull you into simply setting the cruise control and conversing with passengers; it’s very softly sprung, and the electric power steering tends to be light—too much so, we’ve observed, on the highway.”Car Connection

“Pleasant to drive, though not quite car-agile. Cornering lean is evident and steering response is a bit slow. Overall control is fine, and the brake-pedal feel is firm and progressive.”Consumer Guide

“The 2012 Toyota Highlander is an excellent choice for a do-all family vehicle, though several competitors offer more interior space and utility.”Edmunds

“No longer the smallish wagon-like vehicle that was the original Highlander, the 2012 Toyota Highlander SUV has grown in size and sophistication to nearly full-size dimensions, and all that growth translates into a roomy, 7-passenger crossover ideal for growing families.”KBB