We recently received a Salsa Red Pearl 2010 Toyota Highlander into the Top Speed test fleet. The first thing we noticed when the full size Japanese crossover was delivered is just how big the Highlander is. This gives the 187 HP entry level CUV a more powerful rather than playful, unlike the majority of the crossover field. This should make a few more men fell comfortable behind the wheel when doing the job of a soccer mom. The Highlander that Toyota chose for us to drive is representative of the automaker’s high quality economical transportation options. At around $26,000 the CUV came with everything you need to get the job done, minus a few of the pricey creature comforts that the segment has become synonymous with.
Going along with the economy car theme; our Toyota Highlander is spacious and well laid out, but the seats are wrapped in money saving cloth as opposed to “Corinthian Leather” and while the crossover came equipped with rear air you won’t find any factory mounted screens to entertain the second and third row passengers. That is because the Highlander can seat up to seven passengers safely (did we mention the seven standard airbags) and after all aren’t vehicles more about getting people to their destination than being a rolling entertainment center. However Toyota does offer an optional 9 inch display complete with a pair of wireless headphones that are guaranteed not only to keep the back seat passengers entertained with DVDs, but it will do it in complete silence as well, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Either way our entry level Toyota Highlander has it where it counts, even in basic trim the truck rides on a set of massive 17 inch six spoke wheels and is powered by a 2.7 Liter 16 valve VVT-i four cylinder engine that gets an EPA estimated 20 MPG in the city and up to 27 MPG on the highway. The engine is connected to a six speed automatic ECT-i transmission with a manual shift mode that is supposed to be tuned perfectly for the four banger ’s 186 lb-ft of torque, honestly we can’t wait to take this 3800 pound crossover for a spin. Another treat that we found after popping the hood is the equal length 4-2-1 headers that looks like it could have been lifted from the TRD catalog, the piece is the perfect example of how far the Japanese car builders at Toyota go to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of their vehicles.