2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Review: A Fresh Take on a Reliable Classic
2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Review:
- 2023 Toyota Highlander: $36,420 – $49,275
- Pros: The 2023 Toyota Highlander received a refresh for this year that made one of the best-selling vehicles even better.
- Cons: It isn’t the most exciting ride out there, but the Highlander delivers on promises. The cargo area is tight with the third row up, and the hands-free liftgate was sometimes finicky.
The midsize SUV segment is about as packed as possible, with solid options for most consumers. However, the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited picks up all the pieces other sport utility vehicles left behind and uses them to its advantage. This Toyota Highlander review looks at daily life with the SUV and how it might hold up on the everyday grocery trip or golf game.
Will there be any changes in the 2023 Toyota Highlander?
Even though the Toyota Highlander has been the best-selling retail midsize SUV for six years, the automaker isn’t letting that title slip away anytime soon. A new high-torque, high-efficiency turbo engine puts out 265 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque, a 17% increase over last year. While the fuel economy sits at 24 mpg combined again this year, Toyota says it is more environmentally friendly across all gasoline grades.
How does the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited drive?
Those perusing the midsize SUV segment might already be overwhelmed by the number of options. While the Highlander isn’t a new entry, it holds its own after many years on the market. Getting into the 2023 Highlander Limited, it is easy to see why it is a best seller. During the Toyota Highlander review, the inside felt roomy without being too big, and climbing into the back was easy with the second-row captain’s chairs.
The Highlander offers a smooth and quiet ride, with good visibility all around. While testing the SUV around town, the backup camera with dynamic gridlines made getting out of tight spots easier. While some SUVs can get a little too sensor-happy in tight spots, the Toyota offered helpful guidance without being overwhelming.
Getting onto the highway, the Highlander had no problem getting up to speed. Sport mode offered more pickup, but wasn’t necessary. Eco mode kept the fuel economy in the anticipated range, but it was slow to start up in traffic. Once the engine idle-stop kicked in, it took a few seconds to wake up and get moving. Turning Eco mode off for Normal mode made it a little less jumpy while taking off from a stop.
What else sets the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited apart from the competition?
While there wasn’t any snow to test out the all-wheel drive, the 2023 Highlander handled well off the beaten path. Toyota offers Multi-Terrain Select to help maximize traction off-road. Mud & Sand mode for beach driving and Rock & Dirt mode for added traction. During testing, Mud & Sand mode handled the terrain without any issues. Even with the stock tires, the Highlander had enough ground clearance to traverse the Florida landscape, climbing steep sandy hills without any problems.
Inside, the Toyota Highlander’s interior is comfortable and high-quality. The controls on the steering wheel are easy to use, and the touchscreen is responsive. Apple CarPlay works seamlessly, but most crucial climate controls and similar settings have actual buttons. You don’t have to hunt through endless menus to turn the air down.
While testing the hands-free liftgate during the Toyota Highlander review, it worked most of the time. The instructions aren’t apparent at first, but Toyota included a QR code that drivers can scan for a helpful YouTube video. Prepare to look silly until you figure it out.
Is the Toyota Highlander Limited better than the XLE?
For 2023, the Toyota Highlander has seven different trim levels. Even the base trim comes well-equipped, but there are many ways to configure the Highlander.
|2023 Toyota Highlander Trims
The good news is that there is a 2023 Toyota Highlander trim for everyone. We tested the Highlander Limited with all-wheel drive and found that it had almost everything consumers might want except for the heated front and second-row seats. The Limited trim also gets a power tilt and slide moonroof, while the Platinum gets a panoramic glass roof. While there are some other minor differences, the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited we tested for the week checked all the boxes.
All trim levels get 16.0 cubic feet of space behind the third row. Folding the 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seatbacks brings that up to 48.4 cubic feet, and folding the third seat brings the total cubic area to 84.3 cubic feet. If you plan on using the third row regularly, the cargo area might be a little tight. It fits two 24-packs of water bottles across during a shopping test run and a bag of golf clubs (but not at the same time).
How safe is the Toyota Highlander?
The Highlander is no stranger to safety awards from groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Like in previous years, the 2023 Toyota Highlander is a Top Safety Pick Plus award winner. It also received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This year’s SUV receives Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ standard, which includes the following systems:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
- Lane Tracing Assist
- Road Sign Assist
- Automatic High Beams
- Blind Spot Monitor
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Safety and reliability are some of the most important factors considered when looking for a new car, truck, or SUV. The Highlander gets a lot right in both of those aspects.
What engine is in the 2023 Highlander?
The 2023 Toyota Highlander has two engine choices: the 2.4L turbo four-cylinder and the hybrid. The 2.4L is all new for this year, with 256 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque. The 24 mpg combined is the same as last year, but Toyota says it is much more environmentally friendly.
The Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the traditional gasoline powertrain. It also gets Trailer Sway Control (TSC), which uses the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system to help tow heavy loads.
Toyota also offers the Highlander in a hybrid powertrain, combining a 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The Highlander gets 36 mpg combined with the hybrid and can tow 3,500 pounds.
MotorBiscuit provides the 2023 Toyota Highlander with a score of 9.0 out of 10
The editors at MotorBiscuit award the 2023 Toyota Highlander with an overall rating of 9.0 out of 10. Toyota has a winner in the Highlander and didn’t need to change much to stay competitive. It might not be fuel efficient or powerful enough for some, but it makes up for that by being comfortable and reliable. With so many ways to customize and personalize the Highlander, the SUV is suitable for many lifestyles too.