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Many people are turning to the midsize SUV market to find a family vehicle to buy. While there are plenty of options to choose from, not all of them are created equal. 

In fact, only one really stands out. The Toyota Highlander might have been around for quite a few years, but it’s done the one thing that few other vehicles have. It’s remained consistent with its high-reliability rankings with Consumer Reports. Let’s look at its meager beginnings and see how well it’s stood up and whether going used is a good option. 

A brief history of the Toyota Highlander

Since its debut, the Toyota Highlander has seen a few different generations of the midsize SUV. From 2001 to 2007, it kicked off with a bang. With a decent roomy interior and an inexpensive cost, it was already showing how exceptional it was for the early SUV market.

It did, however, experience motor and brake problems. But they ironed them out by 2006, which is also the year they introduced their hybrid model. 

The next generation covered the 2008 to 2013 models. The SUV increased in size and took on a unique look. The redesign gave it a station wagon appearance and improved the interior to make it even more refined. A 3.5-liter V6 motor got it an 18 mpg combined EPA rating for the non-hybrid and 24 mpg for the hybrid version. 

Then came the third generation from 2014 to 2018. Its edgier styling brought back the SUV look, while they improved the way it handled and rode. The interior wasn’t as plush and refined as the previous generation, but they made up for it with gas mileage. The non-hybrid could get 20 mpg combined, while the hybrid model managed to get 25 mpg. 

The 2020 model has an even smoother powertrain that offers a comfortable ride and sound handling. The V6 motor has tons of zip to it with 295 hp, which enables it to get 22 mpg combined. For the hybrid version, though, the EPA rating shot up to 35 mpg combined

How well has the Highlander stood up so far?

From 2001 to 2019, the Highlander has consistently received high marks from Consumer Reports for its reliability. Starting out at the 2001 model and continuing to 2005, it received a four out of five score for the issues that plagued them during those years. 

By 2006, Toyota resolved those problems and their scores increased to five out of five for reliability rankings. In fact, that score continued all the way through the 2018 model year, which is rarely seen with any other vehicle. 

Once 2019 came around, Toyota had issues with some of the electronics in the car, which actually turned out to be the fuel pump acting up. The vehicle would stall at lower speeds for no apparent reason. A recall came out, and they addressed the problem quickly.

But, overall, the Highlander has proven itself time and time again to be the most reliable SUV on the market. 

Why you should consider buying used instead of new

A woman posing in front of her Toyota Highlander
A woman excited about her Toyota Highlander | Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

When you look at the price point for a brand-new Highlander, a base model alone will run you approximately $34,600. If you’re looking to get a hybrid model, it could cost you $38,000.

They’re not cheap by any means. Going used is the better option since we know these vehicles can last a long time, and you can get them for a relatively inexpensive price. 

Scotty Kilmer discusses, in a YouTube video, one such Highlander that a customer of his owns that has 450,000 miles on it (at the time of recording) and it was still going strong. 

In fact, most of his clientele with Highlanders were more than pleased with the ones they owned. Buying a used one will probably last decades, provided you take care of it. 

If you buy used, it would be a good idea to avoid the 2001-2005 model years. These models had the most engine and brake problems, but any year after that would be fine. 

The Toyota Highlander is one of the most reliable midsize SUVs on the market that’s unlikely to steer you wrong if you purchase one used. Take good care of it with regular maintenance, and it should be around for many more years down the road. 


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