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Toyota is the unquestioned powerhouse of the auto world and typically has the greatest sales numbers. That has changed recently thanks to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), but many consumers are still on the lookout for their next vehicle. For many owners, that probably means a three-row SUV. 

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is one such SUV. It’s recently taken some heat from critics, like U.S. News, that gave it a middling score. Still, does that mean the 2020 Toyota Highlander is not worth considering? Here’s what we found out. 

Why U.S. News isn’t a fan of the 2020 Toyota Highlander

U.S. News doesn’t hate the 2020 Toyota Highlander by any means. In fact, the review site stated, “Don’t let its ranking fool you. The Toyota Highlander is a good midsize SUV. Aside from its cramped third row, this vehicle has few glaring weaknesses.”

The biggest problem is the third row. It’s definitely not suitable for adults of any size, and some kids may even feel cramped. Not everyone uses the third row, however.

Many families get third-row vehicles, and never use that back row. It’s great for nights on the town when their friends want to go out to eat, but it’s not something they use for everyday use. 

There is also one other area that many critics take offense with the 2020 Toyota Highlander. It’s way overpriced for what it offers. Because of this, some owners may prefer to buy a used Highlander over a new one, but is the 2020 Highlander really that bad? 

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a real gem

While you could absolutely buy a used Toyota Highlander, it’s important to consider that the 2020 Highlander has been fully redesigned. So while other model years received great reviews and are dependable vehicles, there are a lot of features that you’ll be missing out on.

For example, the 2020 Highlander now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Previous models of the Highlander didn’t feature these. It also has a much larger cargo area than its older brothers.

Toyota has also upped its game by offering better standard features. When you buy a 2020 Highlander, you get the V6 engine and an 8-inch touch screen. In previous models, these were upgrades that cost consumers more money.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander also has a smooth ride. It takes some heat for not being exciting, but not everyone wants an SUV that is all about speed. They just want something to get them to work and back.

How does the competition compare?

It’s no secret that there are lots of choices when it comes to 3-row SUVs, so how does the 2020 Toyota Highlander stand up to the competition? In some areas, it stands out from the crowd, and in others, it falls behind the pack. That’s why it’s important to know what you want before you decide to sign on the dotted line.

The Honda Pilot is probably the top SUV to beat. In spite of this, Car and Driver ranked the Toyota Highlander as the better vehicle. The reason for this is that the Honda Pilot looks a little dated when compared to the Highlander. It doesn’t offer as much, and the Highlander feels more expensive.

If you love going off-road, and need something that can take the beating that comes with it, then the Toyota Highlander is definitely superior to the Kia Telluride. The Telluride is a decent vehicle, but it only offers a snow driving mode. In comparison, the Highlander offers snow, sand mud, and rock modes.

If you’re still on the fence, consider this. The 2020 Toyota Highlander won the IIHS Top Safety Pick. It might be cramped and a little pricey, but other than that, the Toyota Highlander is a real find.