2007 Toyota Highlander Sport V6
For many folks looking for a Sport Utility Vehicle, the idea that they would frequent off-road areas is not part of their their thinking. For these folks, an urban environment is all their SUV would ever see, and for that matter, many large SUVs are just not right for the either. But that is just right where Toyota has placed their midsize Highlander SUV.
The Highlander has been on the market for several years, but each year it just gets better. For 2007, this midsize SUV continues to provide great value at size that is just right for many SUV owners, particularly women, who want a SUV that is easy to drive, offers the visibility for easy maneuvering in traffic, and a third row seat for young children. In fact, among SUVs, the Highlander appears to have been designed primarily for women drivers with young families.
The Highlander is really more like a crossover vehicle as it drives much more carlike than most SUVs. It has a soft compliant ride that easily soaks up the bumps and potholes of urban streets, it has light steering, strong, but not too aggressive brakes, and good acceleration to get in and out of traffic. It is also among the lightest SUVs in its segment.
The styling is very conservative, it won't get stares from SUV enthusiasts. And while the interior is comfortable, the Highlander is a bit plain in both its exterior and interior design. It is not offensive, but there are plenty of other choices for folks looking for more style.
One thing we noted though, it is pricey for what you get. Our tester was just over $30,000 and it did not have leather seats, which are available in midsize SUV's from other manufacturers for a similar sum.
Our tester was the Highlander Sport model, which gets in addition to the standard equipment, 17" wheels, a leather steering wheel cover, a "sport" suspension and a few more items, mostly convenience stuff like power seats and steering wheel controls.
The bigger wheels look terrific and do ad a bit of sport to the party, but the sport suspension is nearly invisible. This is not an SUV that feels comfortable driving fast on a twisty road. The steering is too light and not fast enough for a "handling" vehicle. But the suspension does make the Highlander a bit more spry for its role as a soccer-mom SUV.
In our editorial eye, this vehicle is getting a bit long of tooth in design when compared to the newer versions of Toyota's competitors. Even Toyota has a model that is better in almost every way, the 2007 RAV4, if you don't need a third row seat. The RAV4 is sporty in design, has a neat-looking interior, and is really fun to drive.
But the Highlander does meet the need for many buyers, who have been snapping up most every one of them at dealer lots around the country, so Toyota knows its customers.
Of course you get the typical good build quality that Toyota has come to have and good dealer experience. Those things go a long way toward the popularity of the Highlander.
The Highland Sport's 3.3 liter 215 horsepower V6 with 222 lbs.ft. of torque has plenty of power for brisk acceleration in town and on the highway. The Highlander is comfortable at interstate speeds and is fairly quiet with little wind or road noise intruding inside, but it is not as quiet as a Camry. The 5-speed automatic transmission, which is standard with the V6, snaps of gears without any jerking to passengers.
Maximum towing is 3,500 pounds, which is enough for smaller pleasure boats and certainly personal watercraft.
The EPA rates the Highlander Sport V6 at 18 city/24 Hwy, which is a bit on the low side for midsize SUVs. We saw an average of 21 mpg in a combination of city and highway driving.
Overall, the 2007 Toyota Highlander is nice vehicle that should serve its owners well. It has a nice ride, quick performance around town, and the type of styling that doesn't shout "look at Me!" that appeals to many people who want a SUV, but not the stigma of driving a big truck.