Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
You’d hope that something as big as the Toyota Highlander on the outside would be massive on the inside too, and on the whole it doesn’t disappoint. Up front, you’ll find plenty of leg room and lots of breathing space between you and your front passenger. The door bins are a bit small, but they’re more than made up for by a huge central storage area between the seats, another smaller cubby in front of the gearlever, a shelf above it and another for the front passenger.
Second row passengers are treated to loads of leg room, especially with the bench slid to its rearmost position, although head room isn't as good as you might imagine. The blame lies with the standard panoramic glass roof – it lowers the height of the ceiling at the outer edges of the car. Anyone more than six feet tall might struggle to sit bolt upright, which isn't the case in the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento (even versions with a panoramic roof).
Once you’re back there, you’ll again find less head and leg room than you would in a Santa Fe or Sorento. Adults will fit but won't be particularly comfy, and anyone with long legs will be pleading with the person in front to slide their seat forward a bit.
We’ve touched on seating flexibility a little already, but to clarify, the second row of seats can be slid backwards and forwards, reclined, or folded flat in a 60/40 split. The Highlander's boot isn’t vast with all seven seats in use, although you’ll still be able to carry a few shopping bags and there's a small amount of storage space under the floor. You can hide the load cover under there when it's not in use.
When you fold down the third row of seats, the boot grows to a similar size to those of the Santa Fe and Sorento. In our tests ,all three cars managed to swallow 10 carry-on-sized suitcases below their tonneau covers. Folding down the second row of seats as well leaves you with the carrying capacity of a small van.