2018 Toyota Highlander XLE Packs A Lot of Cargo and Passengers

Michael Garfield | September 24, 2018
2018 Toyota Highlander XLE Packs A Lot of Cargo and Passengers

The has long been one of America’s most popular family crossover SUVs. Last year Toyota sold nearly 216,000 Highlanders in the US, making it the third best-selling mid-size SUV behind only the Ford Explorer and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It can be compared with crossovers such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Pilot, and Chevrolet Traverse. 

Toyota Highlander Family

The Highlander got a revision in 2017, including a facelift, more tech, and more power - with an eight-speed transmission - and remains unchanged for 2018.  The lineup includes SE, LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum models. A hybrid version comes as LE, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum. 

The base Highlander LE uses a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower.  Toyota claims it gets 22 combined miles per gallon, though the available V6 has more power and gets better fuel mileage.

XLE Trim

I recently tested the XLE version which comes standard with cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat and four-way passenger seat, 60/40 split-folding and reclining second-row seat, 60/40 split-folding third-row seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, five USB ports, LED tail lamps, and 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Third Row

I try to be mindful of third rows in vehicles as some are tough to reach.  Accessing the third row in the Highlander was relatively easy as the second-row seats fold down and move forward with just a few, quick knob pulls. 


Toyota’s Entune entertainment system still does not allow for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.  But the 6.1-inch touchscreen is simple to control and the six speakers in the LE version sound just fine in each of the AM/FM/CD modes.  An auxiliary input jack and Bluetooth connectivity allow for music streaming. 


Toyota’s upgraded Safety Sense P system is here with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert, a pedestrian pre-collision system, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.

Also standard are a rearview camera, hill start assist, and eight airbags, including a driver knee airbag and a front passenger seat cushion airbag.

If you are looking for a CUV that can hold not only a lot of passengers (up to 8) but also a good amount of cargo, this vehicle fits the bill.  I was able to load up all of my son’s gear for his first year of college with some room to spare.

What You'll Pay

The 2018 Highlander starts at $31,230 and tops out around $47,000 with the Limited Platinum AWD.

Tags: New Vehicle Review, Toyota
Car P.
Good to hear from you. You are looking a small, medium, and large SUVs, with and without the 3rd row seat, so I think your first step is to decide 3rd row or no 3rd row. If you want the 3rd row, Highlander is a great choice. If not, I’d go back with the RX, it’s one of the best SUVs on the road for longevity. RDX is a very good SUV too but I don’t think it will go as long as the Lexus.

I suggest some extended test drives to see what you are going to be most comfortable with. I have good dealers for all those brands at my website.

Jerry Reynolds, President
Despreporno Radio Network
KAY c.
I currently drive a 2007 Lexus RX 350 but am in the market for a new car.

I'm looking at the 2019 Highlander - Platinum pkg. which has the captains seat in the 2nd row. (I test drove the 4 Runner but it's larger than the Highlander and a little rougher ride.) I have also test driven the 2018 Lexus RX 350 and NX 350 but the NX 350 is too small and I don't really like the price tag and size of the new RX 350. I also text drove the RDX and liked the RDX with the top of the line pkg. I am a mature women who wants an SUV, low maintenance, I will be keeping the car for quite a while as you can see by the age of the car I drive now. Your guidance would be greatly appreciated. I live in San Antonio.