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2022 is on the horizon and approaching fast. Does anyone else feel like 2021 is flying by? Coming up are plenty of fresh 2022 models hitting the market for eager car shoppers, and a lot of them are practically irresistible. In fact, there’s really only one reason not to buy the 2022 Toyota Highlander.

The Toyota Highlander on display at an auto show in Shanghai, China
A Toyota Highlander car is on display | VCG/VCG via Getty Images

There’s just one reason that some SUV buyers won’t be sold on the 2022 Toyota Highlander

According to Car and Driver’s recent review of the 2022 Toyota Highlander, this is a “handsome” three-row SUV for families. The Highlander ticks all the boxes––including plush and luxurious top trims that Car and Driver says are akin to that which we see in Lexus SUVs. In addition, the Highlander comes as a hybrid for families that want to save serious cheddar when commuting. 

However, there is one major drawback that Car and Driver also notes. If you like a dynamic and responsive driving experience, you may want to look elsewhere for your next three row SUV. According to the review, the 2022 Highlander suffers from “lazy driving characteristics.”   

Is the Toyota Highlander worth it? 

A silver 2021 Toyota Highlander driving through green trees
2021 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The Highlander is a bit more pricey than other comparable three-row SUVs like the Hyundai Palisade or the Kia Telluride. Kia gives a starting price of $32,790 for the 2022 Telluride. Hyundai offers its 2022 Palisade starting at $32,675. Toyota shows a starting price of $35,085 for the 2021 Highlander. 

Car and Driver estimates the starting price for the 2022 model year to start around $37,000. So is this higher price worth it? Ultimately that will depend on the buyers’ preferences and how they feel behind the wheel. However, the 2022 Toyota Highlander does offer a long list of standard features that may justify its higher price. 

That said, it comes to a class that is full of value-packed family SUVs with a host of standard features. So considering others like the 2021 Mazda CX-9, which starts around $35,000 as well and also offers plenty of standard features but combines that with exciting performance it’s easy to see why some drivers decide to shop elsewhere for three rows. 

There’s literally nothing wrong with the Toyota Highlander

After driving both the gasoline and hybrid powertrain version of this three row SUV for families, it’s easy to say there’s literally nothing wrong with the Toyota Highlander. The upper trims are luxurious, the fuel economy is good––or great with the hybrid model. 

In addition, the Highlander looks good. It toes the line between subtle suburban hauler and rugged Toyota SUV. The heritage of this model is clear with some design elements taken from other legendary Toyota models like the Land Cruiser. But it’s a soft ride and clearly made with family driving in mind. It is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ which puts it on par with the Hyundai Palisade and Mazda CX-9––the Kia Telluride is a Top Safety Pick as well but didn’t get the “+” edge. 

This three-row SUV won’t make you feel like a racer, but that’s probably OK

the 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid bronze edition in a press photo
2022 Toyota Highlander | Toyota USA

Overall, the 2022 Toyota Highlander is a box-checking family SUV with three rows. That said, it’s not exciting to drive and the powertrain isn’t exceptionally satisfying. But this SUV gets great predicted reliability ratings and solid critic reviews. In fact, Consumer Reports has recommended every model year of the Highlander it’s ever tested.

The 2022 model year will also introduce the new Bronze Edition trim that is really pretty swanky. However, it’s not going to make you feel like a racer when you’re cornering in the suburbs––and maybe that’s a good thing. We’ll let you decide.


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