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2016 Toyota Highlander Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?

Why Buy a 2016 Toyota Highlander?

Should You Buy a 2016 Toyota Highlander? Here are the Pros and Cons

A regular player in the market for midsize crossovers, the Highlander from Toyota makes a comeback for 2016 although with relatively few noteworthy upgrades. In fact, the single most significant upgrade is that the Towing Package, which was once optional, is now standard among all the V6 Highlander trims.

Essentially, the lineup for the 2016 Toyota Highlander remains unchanged from what was previously on offer. For the new model, you can still access the base Highlander LE, the midlevel XLE, the LE Plus, the Limited, as well as the Highlander’s flagship Limited Platinum.

The towing package on all trims now come equipped with 200-watt fan coupling, beefed-up alternator, a heavy-duty radiator, and a transmission fluid cooler. Minor upgrades on the 2016 Highlander LE Plus trim level include heated seats.


Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2016 Toyota Highlander – The Pros

1) Performance and Powertrains

According to critics, the 2016 Toyota Highlander is an enjoyable vehicle to drive, thanks to its poised handling and smooth ride. 

  • The smooth 6-speed automatic and refined V6 engine makes it among the quickest SUVs out there today even among the V8s.
  • It gives you an elevated road view yet remains comfortable as you drive.

2) Acceleration and Power

With either engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission comes standard. Auto reviewers have praised the automatic transmission.

  • It works well and also provides swift downshifts. 
  • Several test drivers have said that the 4-cylinder has adequate power levels.

3) Handling and Braking

The Highlander, according to reviews has responsive handling for this overall class.

  • It maintains road composure even when you engage in an aggressive maneuver or turn.
  • Conveys a sense of security throughout

The 3-spoke steering wheel remains precise, giving you a decent amount of road grip.

4) Towing Prowess

With the 4-cylinder 2016 Toyota Highlander, you can tow along some 1,500 pounds. 

  • Your V6 model will tow a massive 5,000 pounds with either all-wheel or front drive.
  • For the 2016 package, your V6 Highlanders comes standard with transmission and heavy-duty engine cooling.

5) The Interior/Cabin

Reviewers have observed that you could easily mistake the 2016 Highlander from Toyota for a Lexus due to its upscale design, quiet ride and top-notch materials.

Inside, the Highlander cabin has been fitted with:

  • Attractive materials in 2-tone color combinations
  • Padded surfaces

Test drivers have heaped praise on the family-friendly features and straightforward dashboard controls.

6) Seating Arrangements

Many test drivers have reported that the 2016 Toyota Highlander's front- and 2nd-row seats are easy to step into and roomy. 

  • Leg and headroom are ample in both the first and second rows.
  • The 2nd-row seats even slide fore and after for some 5 inches to create more room for maneuvering. 
  • Getting out or in is easy for both rows due to a comparatively low designed step-in height.

7) Cargo Capacity

Reviewers have described storage in the Highlander as terrific. Many have also pointed to the availability of lots of small-item storage cabin compartments.

You will have access to:

  • A big 2-tiered console box and a forward console bin.
  • Good-size glove-box and 2 cup-holders
  • Drop-down left-side bin plus a handy mid-level dash tray

Test drivers have appreciated the available power liftgate, adjustable to accommodate users’ heights and garage ceilings.

8) Safety Ratings

NHTSA has awarded the 2016 Toyota Highlander its top 5 stars rating for overall crash worthiness. IIHS has given the Highlander its top “Good” score for every test except for the small-overlap frontal offset which is newly instituted (where it has received the 2nd-highest score).

9) Driving Impressions

The majority of those buying the 2016 Toyota Highlander end up getting the reliable V6 engine, and for good reason:

  • You will be getting nearly the same fuel economy as you would with the base 4-cylinder.
  • You get an additional 85 horsepower.
  • For this crossover price, it has the smoothest acceleration.
  • The 6-speed automatic transmission provides swift downshift and works well.

10) Recalls and Reliability

The 2016 Highlander has not experienced NHSTA recalls due to safety concerns.
Maker Toyota has covered the vehicle with:

  • Basic 3-year/36,000-mile warranty
60,000-mile powertrain 5-year full warranty  

Reasons Not to Buy a 2016 Toyota Highlander – The Cons

1) The Dash Interface

Several critics point out that the touchscreen interface of the 2016 Toyota Highlander sometimes will require that you make multiple touches before you have the system doing what you need. Additionally, there are plenty of old-fashioned knobs for common actions like temperature control.

2) Cramped 3rd Row Seats

If you're looking forward to some big-time cabin space at the back, be warned as you may get disappointed. 

  • It is somehow cramped when compared to some rivals. 
  • For grownups, the 3rd-row seats are a bit cramped, but alright for kids.

3) Frustrating Driver Experiences

Owners of the 2016 Toyota Highlander have complained about the tepid gas mileage. 

  • Some have even described the V6 engine as being somewhat sluggish as well. 
  • The braking system of the Highlander also loses a couple of points with several owners.
  • Others have found the infotainment system of the 2016 Highlander to be frustrating occasionally. 

How It Stacks Up To The Competition:

It is realistic to compare the 2016 Toyota Highlander with the Nissan Murano and the Honda Pilot?

  • At, $29,990 the Highlander MRSP is almost at par with the Murano’s$29,560, a couple of thousands less than the Honda Pilot at $32,430.
  • Critics rating ties at 9.2 with the Nissan Murano just below the Honda Pilot’s 9.4
  • The Highlander’s performance rating at 8.0 is higher than the 7.8 for the Murano, but below the Pilot’s 8.4
  • Regarding external features, the Toyota has Running Boards, Wheel Locks, and a Trailer Hitch Receiver – the other two don’t.
  • The Toyota beats the two as it has heated mirrors as well as Automatic Transmission w/Manual Mode.


The 2016 Toyota Highlander, representing the 3rd-year of the current generation model, is still a leading contender when it comes to family-oriented SUV crossover. For those who don't need a huge V8-powered behemoth that can only haul a toy, the Toyota 3-row Highlander comes to the rescue.

The 2016 Highlander offers all-wheel or front-wheel-drive, a choice between 4-cylinder or V6 engines, and is available in 5 distinct trim levels. Each successive level has a longer list of optional features. A long as you don’t first class athletic handling; you're most likely to find this SUV sharp enough. It is the ideal family SUV, giving a respectable performance, a smooth ride, and a charming interior.

2018 Toyota Highlander Trim Level Configurations:

2018 Toyota Highlander trim levels. What you get with each trim configuration.