Toyota Highlander long-term test review: report 2

This all-new 4x4 can seat up to seven and has hybrid power to boost efficiency. We're living with one to see if it's worth a place on your shortlist...

Toyota Highlander rear

The car Toyota Highlander 2.5 Hybrid AWD-i Excel Run By Max Edleston, junior photographer

Why it's here To see if a big, go-anywhere 4x4 can also be an efficient choice

Needs to Be practical, good off road, comfortable for long trips and not break the bank on running costs


Mileage 7521 List price £50,595 Target Price £48,878 Price as tested £50,595 Test economy  38.9mpg Official economy 39.5mpg


21 September 2021 – Highlander goes to the highlands

I recently had the perfect opportunity to test the boot space of my Toyota Highlander by taking myself and three friends up to the deep, dark depths of Scotland for a week. 

We'd probably have had a better chance of winning the lottery than correctly predicting the Scottish weather, so our bags were full of both stormproof clothing and summer gear. With four large suitcases, a paddle board and a more stripped-back camera set-up than I would normally take, I was ready to put the Highlander to the test.

Toyota Highlander boot

On the way up the motorway, we stopped off for food and crates of beers, filling the boot space to the brim. We always seemed to find enough room for one more object, though. Indeed, with each quick reshuffle of bags and boxes, the large SUV would reveal another bit of space. 

When we arrived and unloaded, the Highlander really shone. The electric tailgate was straightforward to open, with a simple press of either a button on the keys or one down to the right-hand side of the steering wheel. As with all self-opening tailgates, I found it a little slow, but it does open up to a good height. That means that even at more than six feet tall, I didn’t need to worry about hitting my head while removing the contents. 

Once I had my hands full, a simple press of the close button brought the tailgate back down again. Admittedly, in that occasional moment when I’d filled my arms a little too much, one of those features that let you swing your foot under the boot to close it would be fantastic as well.

Toyota Highlander door handle

Something else I really love about the Highlander is the keyless locking and unlocking. It is far and away the best version of this system I've seen on any of my cars to date. To lock it, you simply place your hand flat on the two bumps on the door handle while the keys are in your pocket.

I have also discovered that you can lock it with the side of your arm too, which is handy if your hands are full. To unlock, you simply go to open the driver's door as normal – as you pull the handle, the car unlocks with no delay or having to pull the handle twice. It’s a brilliant system because it is incredibly straightforward and just works.

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