The Highlander is Toyota’s latest large SUV. It isn’t as rugged as the Land Cruiser, offering a more road-orientated attitude. It even has a hybrid powertrain. It offers excellent capability, reliability and practicality. Lots of practicality. And it comes with plenty of standard equipment, making this a superb lease choice if you're looking for reliablilty and space.
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Good standard equipment.
The boot is massive.
Build quality is excellent.
Why Lease A Toyota Highlander?
The Highlander is a comfy, spacious and well built 7-seater that goes toe-to-toe with more established rivals. The Toyota name brings a promise of reliability few cars can compete with, while the hybrid powertrain is not only efficient but also refined. It isn’t perfect, but the Highlander offers customers a dependable and attractive leasing alternative to its better-known rivals.
With all 7 seats upright and the boot filled to the window line, the Highlander will carry 241 litres of luggage. Or, to put it another way, roughly the same as a Volkswagen Up city car. Fold down the back seats and fill it to the roof, and you get a massive 865 litres to play with. And if you go for 2-seat mode, you get 1909 litres of space. That’s almost van-like.
There’s also lots of space inside. The front seats have lots of adjustment and give you more than enough space, while the middle row is perfectly capable of carrying 2 adults. Taller passengers might be a bit tight on headroom, but they’ll have plenty of legroom. That row will also carry 3 children, with an almost flat floor making the middle seat more comfortable. The rear-most seats are only for shorter adults or children, but they’re fine for occasional use and they give the Highlander a little extra versatility.
The Highlander’s hybrid powertrain makes it surprisingly affordable to run. Officially, the 2.5-litre, all-wheel-drive system will return nearly 40mpg. That makes it almost exactly as economical as the automatic Hyundai Santa Fe diesel, which is impressive when you consider the Toyota has an extra 48hp.
The Toyota is also far less polluting than the Hyundai, with CO2 emissions of 160g/km. In comparison, the Santa Fe pumps out 186g/km. That means the Highlander will be slightly cheaper as a company car, albeit not for long. In 2021/22, the Toyota sneaks into the 36% company-car tax bracket, whereas the diesel Santa Fe is in the 37% bracket.
The Highlander is only available as a huge 5-door, 7-seat SUV. It’s enormous, but it’s also enormously practical.
Trim Levels Available: Excel, Excel Premium
The Highlander range is simple, with just 2 models to choose from. Both are well equipped, with 20-inch alloy wheels, a JBL sound system and a panoramic glass roof included as standard. Automatic lights and wipers, keyless entry and 3-zone climate control also feature alongside satellite navigation, a reversing camera, and the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity tech.
The Toyota Highlander Vs Competitors
The Highlander is competing with a host of 7-seat SUVs, almost all of which are very competent. The recently updated Kia Sorento is brilliant, as is its cousin, the Hyundai Santa Fe. Then there’s the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, which offers a slightly more premium feel than some of the more mainstream models. If you want 7 seats without the bulk of such a big SUV, consider the Skoda Kodiaq, SEAT Tarraco or Peugeot 5008. And thanks to the wonder of leasing, more premium models might also be within your budget. Cars such as the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE and Volvo XC90 are all well worth a look, along with the Lexus RX L and Range Rover Sport.
Toyota’s reliability record is pretty much spotless. The Japanese company is famed for its dependability and we expect more of the same from the Highlander. Even the hybrid powertrain is tried and tested. If you have any concerns, there’s a comprehensive standard warranty with all new Highlanders.
Depending on how you load it, the Highlander can carry between 241 and 1909 litres of luggage. That’s the equivalent of anything from a small city car to a small van. In the most commonly used 5-seat mode and laden to the roof, you get an enormous 865 litres of space to fill.
When you lease a Highlander, you get a choice of 2 trim levels. The Excel comes with everything you need, but the Excel Premium adds goodies including a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats.
Yes, front and rear parking sensors come as standard on every Highlander. A manoeuvring camera is also thrown in to help you park the big SUV.
Space is one of the Highlander’s biggest selling points and the big SUV comes with acres of boot capacity. The cabin is also massive, with seating for 7 people. Adults might find the rear-most seats a bit cramped, but kids will be fine back there.
The Highlander sets itself apart with its roomy interior and hybrid powertrain. But it’s Toyota’s famous build quality and reliability that put the Highlander up there with the best in its class.
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With a Toyota badge on the steering wheel, you know what you’re getting. The Highlander is well built and solid, if not especially imaginative inside. Everything feels as though it has been constructed by competent engineers, with a pleasant substance to everything you touch. Some of the plastics leave a little to be desired, but everything feels like it’ll last the course. It just isn’t especially premium. But you do get all the goodies you expect, including a touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as a JBL sound system. It’s a functional set-up but it isn’t especially upmarket, with old-school graphics. But because it’s quite responsive, the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay systems will work very well and feel easier on the eye.
The Highlander makes no apology for being a big family SUV. As such, it doesn’t even try to offer sprightly handling. Instead, you get soft suspension designed to isolate you from the lumps and bumps in the road. It’s a task it carries out well, particularly at low speeds. Around town, the ride is far smoother than that of a Kia Sorento, but it’s slightly less composed once you’re up to a faster pace.
In fact, the Toyota is surprisingly good in urban environments. You sit very high up and that means visibility is brilliant. The car’s bulk makes it cumbersome at times, but light steering means it’s easy to drive. And with loads of assistance features – cameras and sensors and the like – you won’t be short of help when you need it.
The Highlander is also a decent off-roader, although it’s no match for its cousin, the Toyota Land Cruiser. The big Highlander has plenty of ground clearance for lumpy farm tracks and the hybrid system provides all-wheel drive. Unless you’re a serious off-road aficionado, the Highlander will deal with pretty much everything you can throw at it.
Much of that capability is down to the 2.5-litre AWD-i hybrid powertrain, which produces 247hp. That’s enough for an 8.3-second sprint from 0-62 mph and a top speed of 112mph. In comparison, the slightly-less-powerful 1.6-litre hybrid in the Kia Sorento will manage 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds but it’ll accelerate all the way to 119mph. The Highlander is also among the best hybrid tow cars, with a maximum braked trailer weight of 2000kg.