2022 Toyota Highlander Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
A few model years into its current generation, the 2022 Toyota Highlander is one of the more popular choices for a third-row SUV. Last year's sporty new XSE trim level introduced a sport-tuned suspension, but the Highlander was already quite adept at handling, even for a big bulky SUV. The powerful V6 engine and comfy seats that come standard are also big bonuses.
The third row of seats is the Highlander's chief problem though. Despite the overhaul in 2020, the cramped third row remained cramped. And, behind that, the cargo area feels relatively small for a third-row SUV. Some of the Highlander's major rivals do exponentially better at providing both cargo and passenger space.
That being said, the Highlander is both quiet and comfortable (if you aren't snugly situated in the third row, that is). The V6 engine gets a good amount of power while displaying a decent fuel economy for this segment. And this SUV is extremely easy to see out of, even though there are plenty of driver aids to help with outward view.
But is the Highlander going to meet your needs? Let's go over what is new for 2022, what we like about the Highlander, what we'd like to see changed, and how it stacks up against a few main rivals.
What's New for 2022?
Toyota has not made any changes to the 2022 Toyota Highlander. 2020 saw a total redesign that brought about more cargo space and smartphone app integration with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 2021 saw the introduction of the sporty new XSE trim level.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2022 Toyota Highlander – The Pros
1. A Powerful Response From the V6
The one thing that really stands out about the 2022 Toyota Highlander is its powerful - yet still somehow fuel-efficient - V6 engine. Matched up with an 8-speed automatic transmission that delivers power to the front wheels, this 3.5-liter V6 engine serves up a solid 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. It can get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds, which is quicker than most third-row SUVs. In fact, it puts the Highlander right in a dead heat with the swift Kia Telluride.
2. Better-than-average Handling
Handling on the Highlander is better than you might expect for a third-row SUV. Toyota worked to ensure that this new generation had better control over body roll and that it could better handle winding roadways. Opting for the available torque-vectoring AWD system supplies power to individual rear wheels in order to give extra traction and apply more handling balance. Opting for the adaptive suspension makes handling slightly better, but handling is definitely good enough without it.
3. A Comfy Ride Quality
The Highlander offers a smooth, compliant ride quality that produces a fair amount of comfort. The suspension manages to avoid feeling floaty on the highway but quickly dispatches large and small bumps alike. All in all, the ride feels plush and enjoyable enough for long drives.
4. A Quiet Cabin
Even when you take it up to speed on the highway, the Highlander's cabin remains serene. Very little in the way of road or wind noise makes its way in, and the engine runs quietly too. You won't have to worry about cranking up the music or not being able to hear what your kids are saying in the third row.
5. Clear Outward Visibility
Outward visibility from the cockpit is expansive. You get a clear look at everything surrounding the Highlander thanks to its slender roof pillars and wide glass. You can see quite well while cornering, which isn't something all big SUVs let you do. If you need it, the rear-view camera and optional blind-spot monitoring system give you a clear view of what is behind and to the side of the Highlander. There is a top-down 360-degree surround-view camera you can opt for that gives you a clear view on all sides, but you likely won't need it.
6. Available 12.3-inch Infotainment Touchscreen
While the standard 8-inch touchscreen system works perfectly fine (and produces less glare), the 12.3-inch infotainment display gives you big, bright, clear graphic readouts. The interface is simple, and you can search through menus without much confusion. The short learning curve should appeal to those who aren't too tech-savvy.
7. Plenty of Driver Aids Come Standard
Toyota bundles in a ton of standard driver aids. Their Safety Sense suite comes on every trim level and includes a traffic sign reader, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist, and automatic high beams. Going up one trim to the LE adds blind-spot monitoring, and the Limited tacks on front and rear parking sensors. The line-topping Platinum gives you adaptive headlights, a digital rear-view, the 360-degree surround-view camera system, and a head-up display.
8. Sizable Small Item Storage Spaces
Throughout the cabin, you get plenty of well sized small item storage spaces. The cupholders can hold large beverages, and one of the two shelves built into the dash has a phone cable keeper integrated into it. The pockets are also pretty spacious, giving you enough room to stash your tablets, smartphones, and books.
9. An Easy-to-use LATCH System
Using the LATCH system in the second row for child car safety seats is simple enough. Even rear-facing seats can fit back there without a problem. The anchors are easy to access. Getting the available second-row captain's chairs makes this process even simpler.
10. Excellent Fuel Economy
The Highlander's V6 engine returns an EPA estimated 24 miles per gallon on the front-wheel drive models and 23 mpg combined on the all-wheel drive variants. Even though this is about 1-2 mpg better than the competition, in this segment, that is a pretty big deal. The Higlander's EPA estimates are also reflected in real-world testing.
Reasons Not to Buy a 2022 Toyota Highlander – The Cons
1. Moves Like a Bulky Vehicle
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is a large vehicle and tends to move like one. You'll feel it as you steer the Highlander through tight parking lots. If you've never driven a third-row SUV before, you will probably feel like you are captaining a boat instead of driving a road-bound vehicle.
2. A Cramped Third Row
The Highlander's third row is tight, and even the 2020 redesign couldn't grant it much more space. Small children might be able to fit back there, but it definitely isn't meant for older children or adults. If you don't use the third row too much, it is probably best to take down the seats and use it for extra cargo space because, quite frankly, you'll need it.
3. Minimal Cargo Space
There are only 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. This is quite small for the segment and doesn't give you much room to work with. However, if you take down the third row, you get a better-than-average space of 48.4 cubes. Just don't plan on using the third row much if you need the cargo space.
4. Not As Much Value As Other Third-row SUVs
On the whole, the Highlander lacks value compared to its rivals. It is a little more expensive than other third-row SUVs and doesn't offer quite as many standard features. Also, the interior materials and overall design are just average when you pit them against other vehicles in this segment. Build quality on some models might also be questionable as those testing the vehicle or who have bought it report hearing minor creaks on the driver's side.
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How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 Kia Telluride
The 2022 Kia Telluride is a force to be reckoned with, providing owners with a plush ride quality and seats that are sculpted for comfort day in and day out. For the price you pay, you get an immense amount of standard infotainment features and driver aids. Interior space feels leaps and bounds more cavernous than many third-row SUVs, making it ideal for families who need a spacious third row. The one drawback to it is that there are not a lot of small item storage areas you can use.
2022 Toyota Highlander vs. 2022 Honda Pilot
The 2022 Honda Pilot is another fierce competitor in the third-row SUV segment. Despite having a few extra-sensitive driver aids (namely adaptive cruise control and the collision warning) and narrow access to the third row, the Pilot offers a lot of value. It has spacious seats in both rear rows and plenty of versatility to be found inside of the cabin and cargo area. The ride remains smooth and compliant, and you get a respectable fuel economy from this vehicle.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is a strong competitor in the third-row SUV market. It dominates with a powerful V6 engine that also happens to serve up a good fuel economy. In a segment where fuel economy is tight, this is a real bonus. Padded for comfort and offering a compliant ride, the Highlander caters to the daily driver with a family to cart around. Just don't expect the third row of seats to be too comfy for the kiddos. And the cargo area might not be spacious enough with all seats left upright. The Highlander is, in a way, a mixed bag. But it is a mixed bag that attracts a lot of buyers.