Her + His Car Reviews

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD V6

Our car reviews are innovative and interesting as we provide insightful and expert reviews from both Her + His perspectives.

Her: Anne Fleming, Car Buying Advocate, women-drivers.com
His: Don Hammonds, Writer, AutomobileJournal.com 

$51,112 $51,112
This best buy, the 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD, is a winner in all categories. When it comes to performance, this beauty-and-beast shines with it's 3.5 liter 6 speed automatic V6 engine and impressive 295 horsepower to get you there and back on the long hauls, or about town. This is the 4th gen of this hearty model, and this years' All-star has 7 or 8 seat configurations and smooth riding. This version delivers an angular, yet contoured design and the suspension is smooth as silk.

Even though it's a heavyweight, tipping the scales at 4,365 pounds, this large-sized SUV has superb braking and handling that make it crazy great responsive gripping the corners, and accelerating all road surfaces.
Power comes from a 295 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6 with an eight speed automatic transmission. Though the Highlander feels heavy and sometimes even slow in urban traffic, the Highlander feels much lighter and livelier on the highway. Combine that with the almost legendary comfort you experience in all Highlanders, that makes the brand a top choice for long distance driving. It's also a pretty good handler around curves too!
Fuel Economy
20 City, 23 Overall ad 27 Highway miles. Published figures are 23 miles per gallon overall, with 20 city and 27 highway ratings. Your annual fuel costs will be $1,750 annually over a five year period, driving 15,000 miles a year on gasoline costing $2.70 a gallon.
The Car
We thoroughly enjoyed driving the new 2020 Toyota Highlander. Driven on 20 inch alloy wheels, this year's Highlander has a distinct upscale feel with 3 rows to haul up to 8 passengers. But those in the back row will be cramped so they need to be smaller kids, as leg room is dear. Toyota used a more angular exterior, and the grille has less chrome - it's more toned down and less aggressive. The truck look is gone, and it has a more universal appeal.

There are so many tech and standard features. Comfort is at its most enjoyable in the 2020 Highlander. The quilted seats are super comfortable on any road surface. Toyota has upgraded the front seats to a 10-way adjustable (from 8-way, last year).
The Highlander, with new styling, addition of an important new system that allows for both Android and Apple CarPlay, and a larger screen for drivers for audio and climate control functions. As you might expect, especially since the Platinum is their topline Highlander model, the materials used for the interior are high quality. There's a bit more cargo space behind the third seat--16 cubic square feet instead of 14 cubic feet. But other three row seaters have considerably more space behind that third row compared to Highlander.

But there are some issues, not the least of which is that the Highlander feels sluggish and heavy behind the wheel until you get underway, at least to my view. And that third row should be limited to children--and young children at that. My teenager was furious when he had to sit in the third row seat.

And although visibility is good, the Highlander can be a handful if you have to park in narrow spaces in typical urban settings.

Also, the rear door entrance is pretty high and likely to be an annoyance to older rear seat passengers who will find that lifting their legs high enough to get into the car to be a nuisance, and the controls for moving the second seat forward to allow easier third seat entrance are cumbersome and hard to locate at night because the controls blend into the plastic trim along the edge of the second row seat. There are a couple of other issues concerning the instrument panel that I will discuss under our "Styling and Aesthetics" section of this review.
The bottom line is that Toyota ranks at the top for its attention to safety in its products.

Nothing like getting Toyota Safety, which rates at the top. There are some of the goodies including all the Airbags everywhere - head, seat and side (total 8). Brake Assist, EBS, Child Safety Locks, 4 Wheel ABS, 4 Wheel Disc Brakes, Brake Assist, and daytime Running Lights.

Safety Sense 2.0, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Warning, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Cross-Traffic Alert, Traction Control. LED Lights, Ambient Lighting, Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors. Automatic High Beams, Road Sign Assist. Bird's Eye Camera. Full speed Range dynamic. Two sets of LATCH connectors in second row and single tether anchor in third row, middle seat. Safety and Remote Connect comes with 1 year trial.

Roadside Assistance for 2 years, and unlimited mileage.
Many, many standard safety features on the Highland. There is Safety Sense 2.0, which includes a Pre-Collision system with pedestrian detection; a full speed range dynamic radar cruise control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; Lane Tracing Assist; automatic high beams; Road Sign Assist; eight airbags; Toyota's Star Safety System; blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert; front and rear parking assist with automatic braking; bird's eye view camera, and plenty of other good stuff.
Captain's chairs are pretty cool, or you can get the second row bench set to boost capacity to 8 passengers. Heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, second row seats are heated, 10-way power adjusted front seats with lumbar, beautifully appointed caramel leather, ultra-comfortable searing for starters.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now integrated, as is Amazon Alexa, WIFI Spot and smartphone charger. Pushbutton starter. Tri-zone Climate Control for passengers in each row for customized temperature control.

120 volt power outlet. Panoramic moonroof. Satellite radio. HD Radio. Navigation. 11 speaker JBL sound system. Subwoofer and Amplifier, Bluetooth. Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection. Proximity Keyless Entry. Lane Trace Assist, Departure Warning, Fairly easy-to-use and intuitive infotainment system. Its colorful and there are lots of settings and icons. Adaptive Cruise Control, Road Sign Recognition, Pre-Collision Warning.

Also have Front & Rear Parking Sensors and a Fabulous Surround View Parking System with Birds Eye View. Lots of LED Lamps in front and rear of vehicle. Hands-free Power Liftgate, Panoramic View Moonroof with Sunshade, Third row 60/40 seats fold flat, 12.3" touch screen, Rearview Mirror w/ HomeLink, Full tank of Gas.
Buying your Highlander includes comparing the five variants available to you: L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum. No matter which one you pick, you will find there is only one power team for all of them: a 3.5 liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower, with an eight speed automatic transmission. You will have to pay extra if you want all wheel drive; the standard system is front wheel drive.

By the way, the Highlander has a multi-terrain selector system that allows you to choose the car's driving mode to fit driving conditions. All models are powered by a 295 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. There is also a Highlander Hybrid, which is reviewed separately.

Your upscale, top of the line models for the Highlander are the Limited and the Platinum, which was our test car. If you choose the less expensive Limited, look for standard integrated navigation, 20 inch wheels, ventilated leather front seats. and a top of the heap JBL audio system--and there are even more items that are standard that we haven't even mentioned.

Now for the Platinum. You get not just a standard sunroof, but a huge panoramic sunroof, a 12.3 inch touchscreen, a digital rearview mirror, a surround-view camera system and a driver's head-up display.
Aesthetics & Styling
Moving entirely away from the truck mode, the Highlander is sleek and luxurious. Driven on 20 inch alloy wheels. The updates to this 4th generation Highlander are sleek. With a less aggressive, toned-down grill, the exterior has a very adaptable and universal style. LED slight and headlamps are sleek. Integrated LED foglamps, too. Note that the heated mirrors do not fold.

The inside is super well laid out and deluxe. On our model we had the smooth caramel colored leather with black trim and the faux wood. The quilted seats in the front are so comfortable. As are the heated and cooled options, and the lumbar feature, for longer trips. So much interior and packing space. Eighty-four cubic feet of packing room when all the seats are folded.

The cabin itself is quiet and easy to hear, and passengers in the third row can hear effortlessly with Driver Easy Speak, an intercom system that raises the driver's voice throughout the vehicle. The cabin layout is most attractive, everything is easy to reach, with striking materials. It's almost like you are driving a Lexus, minus the logo. Well done, Toyota.
The Highlander has more of a brawny look now, with muscular blisters over the wheel wells. It's a cool way to distinguish Highlander from so many competitive products which, at least when it came to the previous generation Highlander, looked almost identical to it. But I think the interior brings the greatest change. There's a huge screen which makes it infinitely easier to read information and work the controls for climate and entertainment. But make sure you read the owner's manual carefully-- it's all pretty complicated, which is not unlike many autos and trucks these days.

The dashboard is gorgeous, thanks to a multitude of curves, angles, colors and textures of the materials used. It's both imaginative and efficient.
3 Year/36,000 Miles Basic Warranty, 5 Year/60,000 Miles Powertrain Warranty. Roadside Assistance for 2 Years and Unlimited mileage. The usual 3 years, 36,000 mile warranty on the entire car, with a 5 year, 60,000 mile warranty on the powertrain.