Toyota Highlander review

Category: Luxury SUV

Section: Performance & drive

Available fuel types:hybrid
Available colours:
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RRP from£50,610

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

With 244bhp and a 0-62mph time of 8.3sec, the Toyota Highlander is by no means slow in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, it gets up to motorway speeds quickly enough and there’s enough poke to make A and B-road overtakes relatively stressless affairs.

Compared with other luxury SUVs, though, it is a little tardy. Even the entry-level Land Rover Discovery is a bit quicker, let alone high-powered versions of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7. Those cars' six-cylinder engines sound a bit smoother when worked hard, too; the Highlander’s four-cylinder is by no means coarse and transmits virtually no vibrations through the controls, but you’ll certainly hear it working away. That’s partially down to the CVT gearbox, which doesn’t have conventional ratios. Instead it’ll let the engine spin at near constant revs as you accelerate, highlighting its hatchback-like soundtrack.

Things are, unsurprisingly, quieter in electric mode, save for a little whine from the motors. And when you settle into a cruise, the petrol engine settles right down to become virtually inaudible. With very little wind and road noise, the Highlander is easy on the ears the vast majority of the time.

Despite having no fancy air suspension or even adaptive dampers, the Highlander is a comfortable companion. Even on the big 20in wheels that come as standard, the suspension deals with crests and compressions in a gentle manner and has a tighter grip on excess body movements than the sometimes wallowy Discovery. It also thuds far less noticeably, although the Audi Q7 (on small wheels) still rules the roost for comfort.

Similarly, while the Highlander stays more upright and feels more stable than a Land Rover or Range Rover, it doesn’t stay as upright, have the same level of grip or prove as agile as the Q7. At least you’ll appreciate the Highlander’s precise and pleasingly weighted steering. It’s easy to twirl around town and has reassuring heft when you’re guiding it around faster twists and turns.

Four-wheel drive is standard, with an electric motor powering the rear wheels. It should help you make a clean getaway on slippery surfaces, but don’t expect Discovery levels of mud-plugging ability. The Toyota Highlander’s 2000kg towing capacity isn’t bad, but you’ll find plenty of rivals capable of pulling a far more impressive 3500kg.

Toyota Highlander 2021 rear right tracking

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