• 2022 Toyota Highlander

Good reliability and practicality make it one of the best-selling three-row mid-size SUVs in the segment.

Are you planning to buy a car for your family without investing much? Then the Highlander might fill your needs. Style, comfort, and reliability are the key components of the Highlander. It is in its fourth generation since the 2020 model year and for the 2022 model year, nothing has changed much, but there is a new bronze-accented hybrid variant. While it is not perfect, will the downsides affect you? Well, you will be surprised.

Overview

With the growing trend of SUVs, the U.S. market is flooded with options but only a handful of them come to mind. But what if you don’t want the chunkier SUVs? Well, the Highlander could be your perfect pick because it is an eight-seater with a compact form factor. There are a few mid-size SUVs like the Hyundai Palisade and its platform-based Kia Telluride along with Mazda CX-9 but there are a few things that make the Highlander better. The overall build quality, ride comfort, impressive driver assistance features as standard, and good cabin insulation all come to mind. There is a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 as the sole powerhouse of the gas-operated Highlander, and the hybrid variants feature a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four engine coupled with an electric motor. The hybrid variants ensure good economy as the rev-happy V-6 isn’t quite as economical. At $36,420, the asking price is a bit higher than the Hyundai and Kia are asking for, but there are a lot of things you have to know before you want to settle for the cheaper options.

Trims and Features

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
- image 1025257

There are a total of six trims available under the Highlander name: L, LX, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum. While the first two trims are eight-seaters, the other four trims come with seven seats as the middle row has captain’s chairs as standard. There is a hybrid variant of the Highlander, reviewed separately which has its own trim levels. A naturally aspirated V-6 comes with all six trims along with FWD and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. AWD is an option for all trims. Down below is a detailed trims breakdown.

L
Price: $35,205.

  • LED headlights, and DRLs.
  • Keyless entry and ignition.
  • 18-inch alloys.
  • Heated mirrors.
  • Tri-zone automatic climate control.
  • Cloth seats.
  • 8-way power-adjustable driver seat.
  • 8-inch infotainment screen.
  • Second and third-row 60/40 split-folding seats.
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa connectivity.
  • 6-speaker audio unit.
  • WiFi hotspot.
  • Toyota’s Safety Connect.

Standard driver assistance features available with the Highlander are as follows:

  • Automatic high beams.
  • Lane tracing assist.
  • Adaptive cruise control.
  • Forward collision mitigation.
  • Traffic sign recognition.

LE.
Price: $37,405.

  • Foglamps.
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
  • Power liftgate.
  • Blindspot monitor.

XLE.
Price: $40,405.

  • Sunroof.
  • Roof rails.
  • Wireless charging pad.
  • 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat.
  • Heated front seats.
  • Auto-dimming mirrors.
  • Leatherette upholstery.
  • Second-row sunshades.
  • Larger driver information display.
  • Second-row captain’s chair.
2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
- image 1025245

XSE.
Price: $42,000.

  • Navigation system.
  • Interior ambient lighting.
  • Bespoke sporty styling influences.
  • Sport suspension.

Limited.
Price: $44,360.

  • Hands-free liftgate.
  • 20-inch alloys.
  • Leather upholstery.
  • Front and rear parking sensors.
  • Ventilated front seats.
  • Front seat memory functions.
  • Heated steering wheel.
  • 11-speaker JBL premium audio system.
  • Intercom system.

Platinum.
Price: $47,560.

  • Panoramic sunroof.
  • Automatic wipers.
  • Adaptive headlamps.
  • Heads-up display.
  • 12.3-inch infotainment display.
  • Heated second-row seats.
  • Digital rearview mirror.
  • 360-degree surround-view camera system.

Out of all six trims, it is difficult to choose the right one for yourself. So we would recommend the XLE and that is because of its added features like heated front seats, sunroof, eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, faux-leather upholstery, and a slightly larger driver information display. While it will reduce the seating capacity to seven, it is not for a big family. A lot of you guys can get settled with the base L trim for the availability of the standard driver assistance features including adaptive cruise control and lane-tracing assist.

Exterior: Not your regular Toyota

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
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With the fourth generation Highlander launched in 2020, Toyota made sure to add every flair of aggressiveness to one of their best-selling SUVs. As a part of the fourth generation, the 2022 model year carries on with sharp LED headlights and DRLs in the front with a Lexus-styled huge intake grille. Foglights are available with the LE trim and onwards. The bonnet is sculpted on the sides and in the middle with contrasting effects, delivering a sportier front-end design. The first three trims have a blacked-out grille with surrounding silver accents, while the Limited and Platinum get chrome accents.

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
- image 1025266
The sportier XSE gets a different mesh design on the intake grille and also sports a lowered front bumper for added aerodynamics.

From the sides, the Highlander looks huge with 194.9 inches in length and that is decent. 18-inch alloy wheels come fitted as standard but they are not available as an option unless you opt for the Limited and Platinum trims. Looking at the rear, it is typically a Toyota with sleek taillights. A single exhaust pipe is hidden under the rear bumper but sportier exhaust pipes could have made the rear look a little sportier. A few of the notable exterior features of the 2022 Highlander are as follows:

  • LED headlamps and DRLs.
  • Heated mirrors.
  • 20-inch alloys.
  • Foglights.
  • Power liftgate.
  • Roof rails.
2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
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The Highlander is as heavy as it can get with an average curb weight of 4,145 pounds. Other dimensions include a pretty long 112.2 inches wheelbase, 76 inches overall width, and a height of 68.1 inches. The ground clearance is more than enough for the Highlander to go off the tarmac pretty easily.

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior Dimensions
Model 2022 Toyota Highlander
Curb Weight  4,145 pounds
Length 194.9 inches
Width  76.0 inches
Height 68.1 inches
Ground Clearance  8.0 inches
Wheelbase  112.2 inches

Interior: It’s Great, But It’s Not Perfect

2022 Toyota Highlander Interior
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The Highlander has a very straightforward cabin which is nice and has a point. As a family car, it has a lot of plastics around the dashboard and door panels which are not softer ones like in the Palisade. But this is no luxury car and to help avoid wear and tear, it is a job well done by Toyota. At the first glance, the interior does not look dull but carefully engineered. The dashboard layout looks overworked but the touchscreen infotainment display looks great. On the higher trims, the middle part of the dash gets a faux-leather cover with matching stitches that elevates the overall luxury. The instrument console is the old-school digital-analog styled, making it look 5-6 years old. If this was disappointing, the leather steering wheel is not available as standard! Come on Toyota!

2022 Toyota Highlander Interior
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There are a few modern touches inside the cabin such as ambient lighting, tri-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats with memory functions, and adaptive cruise control. Mind you that all the features are not available as standard. Here are the few standout interior features of the 2022 Highlander are as follows:

  • Tri-zone automatic climate control.
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel.
  • Power-adjustable front seats with power lumbar and height adjustments.
  • Heated steering wheel.
  • Leather upholstery.
  • Heated front and second-row seats.
  • Ambient lighting.
2022 Toyota Highlander Interior
- image 1025264

As an eight-seater, the Highlander is good in terms of in-cabin comfort. The L and LE are the eight-seater trims and the others have seven seats as the inclusion of the second-row captain’s chair has reduced the capacity. The maximum payload is about 1,685 pounds, while the competition is offering slightly lower with the likes of Palisade and Telluride. The standard cloth seats are decent to sit on but leather seating is available as an option. With the fourth generation Highlander, Toyota ensured to bring better cabin insulation and that worked. The ride is smooth and noiseless, mostly. The only problem with the Highlander has been the third-row spaciousness. There is ample headroom and legroom up to the second row but the third row is not up to the mark in terms of legroom with only 27.7 inches. The Hyundai Palisade offers 31.1 inches of legroom and the Honda Pilot offers about 31.9 inches. So the Highlander is already behind with about 3 inches of the third row, making space only for kids or under adults. The cargo capacity available is just 16 cubic feet, which is two cubic feet less than the Palisade. A few duffels or two suitcases, without much hassle, should fit inside the boot.

2022 Toyota Highlander Interior Dimensions
Model 2022 Toyota Highlander
Seating Capacity 8
Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches) 41.2/59.0/42.0
Second Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches) 39.4/58.7/41.0
Cargo Capacity  16.0
2022 Toyota Highlander Interior
- image 1025271

Toyota has loaded the infotainment system with almost every necessary feature to enhance driving.

The infotainment system feels refined but the availability of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa make it easier to live with.

An eight-inch touchscreen display is fitted as standard, while the top trims get a 12.3-inch unit which, in my opinion, is a better quality one. Other standard features include a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, WiFi hotspot, and Toyota’s Safety Connect. Other optional features include:

  • 11-speaker JBL premium audio unit.
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen display.
  • 360-degree camera view.

Performance and Handling: Just another budget eight-seater

2022 Toyota Highlander Drivetrain
- image 1025250
By default, all the Highlander is powered by a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 which is capable of putting out 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of maximum torque available at the top 4,700 RPM.

The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with FWD as standard. AWD is available as an option throughout the trim list. There is a hybrid variant of the SUV which comes with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four engine and an electric motor producing a combined 243 horsepower. Toyota made sure to provide not the maximum power but fuel economy and they did that well.

The V-6 engine is not particularly weak but driving the Highlander with your family inside and in slower traffic will make the engine feel laggy. It is more like you have to keep the engine singing to squeeze out power. The eight-speed automatic feels smooth on the highways and even in city limits. The Highlander with the V-6 engine and AWD does a knot to 60 in 6.7 seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds, according to theCar And Driver.The hybrid does the same with about 7.3 seconds for 0-60 and 16 seconds for the standing quarter-mile. The Hyundai Palisade does a 0-60 in about 6.9 seconds, and the Telluride is 0.1 seconds slower.

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
- image 1025248

The Highlander has a simple philosophy to offer a smooth and refined ride quality, and as it is a family car, it feels like Toyota has opted for a balanced dampening system. The higher ground clearance and softer suspension will allow the Highlander to tackle bad patches and even mild off-roading won’t be troublesome. The sportier XSE does not affect the ride quality on a big margin despite having a slightly stiffer suspension. Maneuvering the SUV downtown is not exactly a pain in the bum, the steering has a nice heft to it which is good for highway driving but tackling fast corners is not in its forte. In case you are wondering how the braking performance is then let me tell you, it is decent. There are 13.3-inch front and rear brake rotors which help the SUV to stop under emergency braking from 70 miles per hour in 167 feet. The hybrid takes 176 feet because of its added curb weight.

2022 Toyota Highlander Performance Stats
Model 2022 Toyota Highlander 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Engine Type 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-4 w/ two electric motor
Drive Type FWD/AWD FWD/AWD
Transmission 8-speed shiftable automatic  8-speed shiftable automatic
Power  295 hp @ 6,600 RPM 243 hp @ 6,000 RPM (Combined)
Torque  263 lb-ft @ 4,700 RPM 175 lb-ft only with gas engine
0-60 (MPH)  6.7 seconds 7.3 seconds
Quarter-mile 15.3 seconds 16.0 seconds
Top Speed 114 mph 118 mph

Fuel Economy

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
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The old-school naturally aspirated V-6 is not exactly a gas guzzler and the economy provided by it is decent with 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 miles per gallon on the highways, and a combined rating of 23 miles per gallon as per the EPA. If you compare with its direct rival Palisade, it gets a 19/24/21 rating for the city/highway/combined. Toyota fitted a 17.9-gallon gas tank and that will ensure up to 483 miles on the highways, meaning that you don’t have to stop frequently for refueling. However, if you are still not okay with the figures, the Highlander Hybrid will surely make you happy by delivering about 600 miles per full tank.

2022 Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy
Model 2022 Toyota Highlander 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
MPG (City) 20 35
MPG (Highway) 27 35
MPG (Combined) 23 35
Tank Capacity (Gallons) 17.9 17.1
Range (City, Highway, Combined) 358.0/483.3/411.7 598.5/598.5/598.5

Safety Convenience

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
- image 1025274

The Highlander has a few positive aspects and overall safety is one of them. It is a major thing to consider when you are buying an SUV, especially for your whole family. The SUV scores a full-on five-star rating on the crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is about to test the 2022 model year of the same but considering the 2021 model year’s “Top Safety Pick+” award, it will not deteriorate its reputation. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 packs majority of the advanced driver assistance features as standard and that includes adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, frontal collision mitigation, lane-tracing assist, and automatic high beams. Other safety features that are equipped with the 2022 Highlander are as follows:

  • Blindspot warning.
  • Lane-departure warning.
  • Post-collision safety system.
  • Tire pressure monitoring.
  • Stability control.
  • Airbag occupant sensing deactivation.

Should you consider the 2022 Toyota Highlander?

2022 Toyota Highlander Exterior
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If you prioritize comfort with added cabin insulation, better fuel economy, better reliability, and of course the safety of your family, then the Highlander will be a good choice. The only complaint about the Highlander would be the lack of third-row legroom but if you have a few children then that won’t be an issue. That said, about $2,000 cheaper options like the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are some of the best options in the segment with ample third-row legroom even for adults. But they lag behind a bit in terms of raw performance and fuel economy but are good options if you want practicality more than everything.

Amreetam Basu
Amreetam Basu
Automobile Journalist
Experienced Content Writer with a demonstrated history of working in the automotive industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Content Writing, Microsoft Office, and Article Writing. Strong media and communication professional with a Bachelor of Arts - BA focused in History and currently pursuing for Master of Arts.  Read full bio
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