Toyota Highlander

2016 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is a midsize crossover SUV that delivers versatility, comfort and practicality, including three-row seating. All-wheel drive is available for wintry weather.

Highlander is among the best in its class in terms of comfort and frugality. In addition to flexible second-row seating, it offers relatively free access to the third row. In terms of being stylish, rewarding to drive, or offering rugged off-road capability, well, not so much.

Last redesigned for 2014, there are no significant changes for the 2016 Highlander.

It might look a bit more rugged than its predecessors, but the Highlander is technically closer to Toyota passenger cars than to any rugged SUV. The Highlander is more civilized and family-friendly than a 4Runner, and its roomier than a RAV4. If you want a rugged SUV, get a 4Runner.

For more appealing fuel-economy estimates, the Highlander Hybrid remains available. Otherwise, both four-cylinder and V6 gasoline versions suit most family requirements.

Most Highlander models come with the 3.5-liter V6, developing 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, Highlanders use a 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition to smooth-running and reasonably strong responses, the V6 is more fuel-efficient than expected. For 2016, all V6 models include a towing package, for 5,000-pound capability.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder, making 185 horsepower in price-leading Highlander LE models, performs adequately with a mild load. Pack in the whole family, though, and its overtaxed.

Highlander Hybrid models team the V6 with a continuously variable transmission (eCVT) and all-wheel drive, for 280 horsepower total output. Because theyre some 350 pounds heavier, Highlander Hybrids accelerate relatively slowly. Hybrids come only in top Limited or Limited Platinum trim.

Fuel economy isnt a plus. Even the four-cylinder RAV4 is EPA-rated at only 20/25 mpg City/Highway. The V6 is EPA-rated at 19/25 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, 18/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. Highlander Hybrid is EPA-rated at 27/28 mpg City/Highway, but it isnt likely to reach those figures unless driven mildly.

The Highlander is reasonably agile and electric power steering is standard. The cabin is not noisy. The Highlander XLE has an innovative feature called Driver Easy Speak that uses a microphone to transmit front-seat voices to back-seat riders.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-testing, Toyota Highlander got a five-star overall score: four stars for frontal crash and rollover testing, but five stars in side-impact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls Highlander a Top Safety Pick +, having earned mostly Good ratings, though only Acceptable on its new small-overlap test. Among Toyotas safety options are blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning, and parking sensors. A Driver Technology Package bundles pre-collision warning and adaptive cruise control.


2014 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Corolla compact sedan offers reliable, inexpensive transportation. The Corolla delivers high value for its moderate price. It looks fresh, with crisp lines, its quiet underway, and it boasts all the technology expected by todays compact-car shoppers. Though classed as a compact, its not tiny.

Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the current model represents the 11th generation of the Corolla. A new Special Edition model featuring special trim joins the 2016 Corolla lineup. Otherwise, there are no significant changes for 2016.

Toyota Corolla is among the best-known names in the automotive world, following decades at or near the top of the sales charts in the U.S. The Corolla nameplate has represented basic, trouble-free, and relatively comfortable motoring for 40 years.

Two 1.8-liter four-cylinder engines are used with two different transmissions. Corolla L, LE, and S models come with a 1.8-liter engine is rated at 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque. A slightly more fuel-efficient version for the Corolla LE Eco makes 140 horsepower (though, of course, its more expensive).

Most buyers choose the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is tuned to provide a nearly linear, reassuring feel when accelerating moderately. As a result, theres less of the droning common with CVTs. The CVTs offer the best fuel-economy estimates, led by the Corolla LE Eco.

The 2016 Corolla with CVT is EPA-rated at 29/38 mpg City/Highway, or 32 mpg Combined. Corolla LE Eco is rated 30/42 mpg, or 35 mpg Combined.

Corolla L and Corolla S offer a 6-speed manual gearbox. The transmission option for the Corolla L is Toyotas ancient, sluggish 4-speed automatic. In contrast, the CVT in the S model echoes a 7-speed automatic, with paddle shifters that can select virtual gearchanges.

Little has changed for 2016 except for a new Special Edition model, based upon the sporty Corolla S. Only 8,000 will be sold, in three exclusive colors.

Infotainment systems are among the better ones in the affordable-car class. In some models, the latest Entune system features navigation and apps.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Corolla a five-star overall crash-test rating, with five stars in every test except rollover. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2015 Corolla earned top Good ratings, except for a Marginal score in the small-overlap frontal test. Only a few active-safety systems are available in Corollas.


 

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