Toyota Highlander 2021 front
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 front
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 dashboard
  • Toyota Highlander 2022 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 side
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 rear
  • Toyota Highlander 2022 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 third row
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 side
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 rear
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 third row
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 front
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 dashboard
  • Toyota Highlander 2022 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 side
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 rear
  • Toyota Highlander 2022 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 third row
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 side
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 rear
  • Toyota Highlander 2021 third row
Used Toyota Highlander 2021-2023 review
Star rating

What's the used Toyota Highlander 4x4 like?

Turn on American TV, particularly any show involving elite groups of people, and you'll see just how popular big and bulky seven-seat SUVs are over there. They're not quite as common in the UK, but there are still many British buyers attracted to these vast vehicles. The Toyota Highlander capitalised on that, hauling itself to our shores for a while in its fourth generation.

In both size and price point, it sits above the Toyota RAV4. The Highlander can seat seven adults, thanks to being almost five metres long. We'd call it a tank if the rough-and-ready Toyota Land Cruiser and its off-road credentials didn't better suit that title.


With high levels of space and equipment, the Toyota Highlander almost justifies its high used prices. A fair few rivals can match or exceed its capability, though, and do it for less money.

  • Very practical
  • Generously equipped
  • Toyota's solid reliability record
  • Pricier than rivals
  • Wallowy handling
  • Interior quality is a mixed bag

Under the Highlander's huge bonnet, there's just one engine available: a 2.5-litre petrol connected to a hybrid system. This simple approach extends to its available trim levels, too. There are only two (called Excel and Excel Premium) you can buy. In other words, the hardest decision you’ll have to make is which paint colour you want.

From the get-go, the Highlander is rich in equipment, with Excel getting heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a JBL sound system, 20in wheels, as well as front and rear parking sensors. Excel Premium adds ventilated front seats, heating for the outer second-row seats and a head-up display, plus a 360-degree camera to help you navigate car parks and urban areas.

The Highlander responds promptly to accelerator inputs, surging forwards with no noticeable pause. In our tests, it managed to get from 0-60mph in a very respectable 7.7sec.

In most situations, the car’s electronic brain uses its two power sources intelligently. If you pull away gently and there’s some charge in the battery, it will resist firing up the petrol engine. That makes crawling along in stop-start traffic a smooth and generally peaceful experience.

If you use anything close to maximum acceleration, though, the Highlander becomes much noisier as the petrol engine gives you everything it's got. When you’ve reached the speed you want to be doing, or if you’re happy to accelerate slowly, the engine is far less rowdy.

Its spongy suspension helps it soak up minor road imperfections well, but things can get a bit bouncy at higher speeds, plus it can crash noisily over potholes. The Highlander isn't particularly adept in the corners, either. It doesn't mask its weight as well as some rivals do, swaying around far more through corners. If you have an eye on handling ability, the Peugeot 5008 is a sharper handling alternative and the BMW X3 is much more fun.

The 2000kg towing capacity does beat hybrid versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento but can’t match the mild-hybrid Land Rover Defender (3500kg) or plenty of other diesel-powered large SUVs.

Inside, all Highlanders have an electrically adjustable driver's seat, complete with a memory function and lumbar adjustment. It lines up well with the pedals and steering wheel, so it’s easy to find a driving position that suits you, and the seat is comfortable when you're going in a straight line. You might wish for a bit more side support to stop you sliding around through corners, though.

The dashboard is fairly intuitive, with logical controls for the air-conditioning and large, clearly labelled buttons. Visibility is good too, thanks in part to a seriously lofty driving position that puts you almost eye-to-eye with Range Rover owners.

The 8.0in infotainment system is less impressive. It has all the basics, including a DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, built-in sat nav, wireless phone-charging and a punchy 11-speaker JBL stereo. It’s even reasonably responsive and is surrounded by useful shortcut buttons, but the graphics aren't great and the operating system could be more intuitive.

Interior quality isn't class leading, because your fingers don’t have to wander too far to find harder plastics on the doors, for example, and the centre console that separates driver and passenger also feels a bit wobbly. You do get leather seats, though.

Up front, you’ll find plenty of leg room and lots of breathing space between you and your 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.

In the third row, it's possible to fit in adults, but they won't be particularly comfy. Anyone with long legs will be pleading with the person in front to slide their seat forward a bit.

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.

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 suitcases in their boots. Folding down the second row of seats as well leaves you with the carrying capacity of a small van.

If you're interested in buying a used Toyota Highlander or any of the other cars mentioned here, check out our used car buying pages.

Toyota Highlander 2021 dashboard

Advice for buyers

What should I look for in a used Toyota Highlander 4x4?

While parking aids are plentiful, the Toyota Highlander remains a large car, so is easily dented or scraped – inspect the example you're interested in for damage to the bodywork and wheels.

What are the most common problems with a used Toyota Highlander 4x4?

There are currently two recalls listed against the Highlander, only for the 2021 model year. One involves the emergency calling system (eCall) and has affected 26,575 vehicles. The system might not function when required. A software update can fix this.

The other recall has affected less cars, specifically 656, and involves the seat-back frames. Certain points weren't manufactured correctly, but they can be modified to resolve the issue.

Contact your local Toyota dealer if you believe your vehicle is affected. They can deal with both of these issues and at no cost to you.

Is a used Toyota Highlander 4x4 reliable?

The Highlander didn't appear in our latest What Car? Reliability Survey as a model, but Toyota appeared as a brand. It ranked second out of 32 manufacturers featured.

Ownership cost

What used Toyota Highlander 4x4 will I get for my budget?

Used Toyota Highlanders begin at around £40,000. For the money, expect a 2021 model with around 20,000 miles on it. If you'd prefer a 2022 or 2023 car, have around £45,000 to spend. At most, some examples are asking a little more than £50,000 from you.

As of writing, many Highlanders are within the Toyota dealer network and should be in excellent condition for the prices we've quoted.

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Toyota Highlander 2022 interior rear seats

How much does it cost to run a Toyota Highlander 4x4?


In our real-world tests, the Toyota Highlander proved itself to be relatively frugal for such a substantial vehicle – the Highlander posted an average of 36.4mpg.

Road tax

Due to being a hybrid, the Highlander currently attracts a yearly fee of £170, which is £10 less than solely petrol and diesel cars of a similar age.

Insurance and servicing

All Highlanders belong to insurance group 41 (out of 50), meaning insurance should set you back around £1015. For £792, Toyota will sell you a service plan comprised of two services and two MOTs. Other service plans are available.

Toyota Highlander 2021 third row

Our recommendations

Which used Toyota Highlander 4x4 should I buy?

With only one engine available, it's the 2.5-litre petrol hybrid setup or nothing. Used Toyota Highlanders are much more plentiful (and cheaper) in the already well-equipped Excel trim. There's little reason to seek out an Excel Premium car, unless you simply must have the utmost kit.

Our favourite Toyota Highlander: 2.5 VVT-i Hybrid Excel

Toyota Highlander 2021 side


What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Highlander 4x4?

For a budget of around £18,000, you can pick up our Used Seven-seater of the Year 2023, the Peugeot 5008. It's been around since 2017, so longer than the Toyota Highlander (or the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento for that matter), but a 2020 facelift means its as competitive as ever.

Even used, you'll need to fork out at least £32,000 to buy a latest-generation Santa Fe or Sorento, although that's still less than what the Highlander commands. You also get more engine options with those cars – diesel, petrol hybrid and petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

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If you're interested in buying a used Toyota Highlander or any of the other cars mentioned here, check out our used car buying pages.

Toyota Highlander 2021 rear