Trucks & SUVs

The Worst Toyota Highlander Model Years You Should Never Buy

The Toyota Highlander is a popular SUV on the market. With Toyota having a good track record with vehicles, it’s no wonder people come out of the woodwork to get their hands on a Toyota SUV, like the Highlander.

However, like any automaker, Toyota produced some pretty bad versions that owners regret buying. With all the models Highlander came out with, which ones should you avoid and which ones should you consider? CarComplaints.com shows us which ones displeased drivers the most and which ones fared well.

The 2015 Toyota Highlander has the most complaints

The Toyota Highlander has seen a few bad years for owner complaints. The 2015 model clocks in with the most reported against it. One of the biggest complaints drivers have is the front seats.

Owners feel that despite the handling and ride of the vehicle, it means nothing because the seats are extremely uncomfortable. Other vehicles are much more comfortable to sit in. Customers report that they’re downright painful, even if you’re only riding in it for a mere 15 minutes.

Some drivers have to shift their weight now, and then to avoid the bad back and shoulder pain. Unfortunately, by doing that, the seats wear out faster. Added cushions don’t help either.

Another common complaint reported against it is wind noise. Some drivers feel that the noise is overwhelming once the vehicle gets going above 25 mph. Eventually, it was figured out that the noise came from the oversized side mirror design.

Another annoying complaint comes from the navigation and radio display. The screen would freeze up, then reboot itself. When it comes back on, it would return to the default settings, losing what the owner inputted. Drivers found this extremely annoying because it would happen quite often.

The 2003 Toyota Highlander is the worst model

The 2015 model had many annoying issues reported, but 2003 is the worst model for its costly repairs. The biggest problem to cause headaches for Highlander owners comes from the engine.

At around 125,000 miles, owners started noticing a coolant leak. After that, the engine block bolts would give way. Upon inspection, the threads in the engine were stripped. Without any mechanics willing to take this repair on, most owners had to resort to replacing the engine. One driver was quoted a price of $15,000 for a new motor and labor to get it installed.

Another problem plaguing Highlander owners for this model year deals with the brakes. Drivers reported having to go through brake pads and rotors on a regular occasion despite not being hard on them while driving. There were reports of four crash incidents and four injury cases to the NHTSA. The cost at each brake job ranged from $500 to $600.

Which model years should you choose from?

With all the models of the Toyota Highlander that drivers didn’t like, there are still a few that pleased their owners. The first model year to check out is the 2007 model. This year has the least complaints against it, only having 9 reported, all being minor issues.

The next two are 2017 with 13 issues, and 2018 with only 9 complaints. Both have minor problems reported, like wind noise and seat issues. The 2019 has only four complaints, but there are several reported to the NHTSA, which deal with fuel systems, engine, and brake problems, so it’s best to avoid this one.

If you’re considering getting a new Highlander, look toward the 2017 and 2018 models for the least problems. The 2015 has way too many complaints to even be worth it, and the 2003 version will cost you a ton of money in the long run.