Trucks & SUVs

Why the Toyota Highlander Is a Best Selling Mid-Size SUV

Mid-size SUVs have been an interesting market to watch this year. Some of the big heavy hitters in this class had above-average sales throughout the year, while others had a harder time kicking off a sales run. Some 2020 models began receiving orders in June and ended pretty strong, like the Hyundai Palisade.

The figures for 2019, overall, aren’t too surprising for what’s offered in the mid-size market. One of the best-selling SUVs, the Toyota Highlander, fared pretty well according to the sales charts posted by GoodCarBadCar. There, you see exactly how well the Highlander did compared to its competitors.

What the sales figures tell us so far

For the fourth quarter sales of 2019, the Highlander is leading the mid-size SUV pack with 59,258 purchases under its belt. That’s down a couple of thousand from last year’s fourth-quarter sales of 63, 812.

The last month of the year it outsold all other SUVs in its class with 20,449 purchases. In 2018, it sold a few thousand more for the month of December, bringing the total to 23,125 vehicles.

When you break down the figures in monthly sales for the year, the third quarter was also good for the Highlander. Still, the Highlander remained pretty consistent throughout the year, only having one month that had less than 15,000 sales. Otherwise, it saw 17,000-29,000 purchases each month.

What makes the Toyota Highlander so popular?

With the high ratings it’s received for safety, it’s no surprise the Highlander is performing well on the sales charts. The NHTSA gave it a 5-star rating, and the IIHS named it a top safety pick for the 2019 model year.

As you see with other Toyota vehicles, it comes standard with the Toyota Safety Sense. This gets you forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control, to name just a few. To get the same type of features on other SUVs, you have to upgrade to a pricier package, sometimes costing thousands more.

J.D. Power also gave the Highlander high ratings for reliability, driving experience, and resale value. Current buyers of this SUV reported to them they like its driving dynamics, exterior, and interior styling, as well as visibility and safety features.

Even U.S. News liked the quiet, but comfortable ride for the first and second-row seats. Not bad for a vehicle that sells its base package, the LE, at around $31,000.

How does it stand up to its competition?

The Toyota Highlander is running close in sales, for 2019, to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Both are seeing impressive figures throughout the year. The Jeep ranked second for fourth-quarter sales having sold 57,929 vehicles, which is close to the previous year’s sales figure. However, when you look at the year-to-date sales, the Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled a couple thousand more purchases than the Highlander.

The Car Connection looked at the two, side by side, and found the Highlander to be a bit better than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Toyota’s mid-size SUV appeals with its family-friendly features, namely ride comfort and roomy interior space. The Jeep lacks in those areas but gets good marks for handling any mild off-road trails one might venture out on.

The Toyota Highlander didn’t sell quite as well this year as it did in 2018, but since the 2020 model year promises a new redesign, this could be its best year yet. With more standard features, including the V6 engine, the Highlander could very well be the one that’s hard to beat in the coming year.