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If you’re in the market for a used midsize SUV, then the 2012 Highlander should be on your radar. Not only can it be had with all-wheel drive and a slew of people-pleasing features, but according to Kelley Blue Book, it’s also one of the 10 Best Used Midsize SUVs under $15,000. 

2012 Toyota Highlander parked outside
2012 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

Used 2012 Highlander engine options

The 2012 Toyota Highlander comes powered by a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine, but a V6 engine is available on the base model. The V6 does come standard on the Sport 4WD and Limited trims. According to Kelley Blue Book though, its base engine is “near the top of its class in the areas of fuel efficiency and power.”

But what’s it like to drive the Highlander? Kelley Blue Book tested the 2012 Highlander Limited 4×4 during a bout of rain and reported that it was more than capable of inspiring “full confidence.” Its V6 engine is also “as smooth as velvet” and “responds instantly to the slightest request for more power.”

Interior features and amenities

According to Kelley Blue Book, the 2012 Highlander has an “attractive, if somewhat conservative interior.” Its dash features large knobs, something Kelley Blue Book says will help drivers who often find themselves donning bulky winter gloves. 

The 2012 Highlander makes for a spacious pick as well. Boasting a sliding second-row seat, the Highlander makes it easy to maximize its wealth of interior space. It also comes standard with a third-row of seating, but according to Kelley Blue Book, competitors like the Chevy Traverse and the Dodge Durango do offer a more spacious third-row.

For the ultimate in interior amenities, look no further than the top-of-the-line Limited, which Kelley Blue Book says “coddles its owners.” Enjoy sought-after features like leather and wood-grain trim, dual-zone climate control, and a keyless entry and ignition system.

Is the 2012 Highlander reliable?

No one wants to invest in a used SUV that isn’t going to last. Fortunately, the 2012 Highlander has earned itself an 85 out of 100 quality and reliability rating from J.D. Power

Consumer Reports also recognized the Highlander for its overall reliability, giving it a 5 out of 5-star score. However, it did note that owners of the 2012 model have had trouble with its drive system, body integrity, and power equipment, so be sure to watch out for such issues when shopping for a used Highlander.

As for the Highlander’s safety ratings? When equipped with all-wheel drive, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it a 4 out of 5-star overall safety rating. It struggled in front driver side and passenger side frontal crash tests. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did name the 2012 Highlander as a 2012 Top Safety Pick. According to the IIHS, the 2012 Highlander scored ‘Good’ in all crashworthiness tests. 

Is a used 2012 Highlander worth buying?

Kelley Blue Book isn’t the only one recommending the 2012 Highlander. U.S. News & World Report ranked it #5 in its list of 2012 Affordable Midsize SUVs. J.D. Power also placed it in the number two spot on its list of Top 10 Consumer Rated SUVs for the 2012 model year.

If you’re in the market for a used SUV that won’t break the bank, the 2012 Highlander is undoubtedly worth a test drive. Between its affordable price tag and its overall reliability and safety ratings, its easy to see why Kelley Blue Book included it in its list of 10 Best Used Midsize SUVs under $15,000.