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2024 Toyota Highlander

For years I've looked at the opportunity to get a truck to take care of those periodic needs that I have where I need to haul a lot of "stuff". I don't have kids and so a three-row SUV had been something I never really paid attention to or had a desire to actually own. During our recent move from San Diego though I had the opportunity to test two very similar - but also very different - three row SUVs back to back. The first is the 2024 Toyota Highlander Limited and it was impressive if for no other reason that it showed just how far Toyota has come in terms of refinement. We already know that Toyota excells in terms of practicality and dependability but I was truly impressed by how well it handled and how easy it was to load during those dozens of trips between our loft and various places around town.

highlander limited dash

2024 Highlander Highlights

Now to be completely fair, it's a Toyota and that means that we're looking at a relatively conservative vehicle that trades sex appeal for practicality and price. The 2024 Highlander that we received from Toyota featured a 2.4L turbo pumping out 265 hp / 310 lb-ft of torque while offering AWD with a 5,000 pound towing capacity. Gas mileage is 21/28/24 which I feel like is pretty good but not stunning for a vehicle like this (the FWD is +1 mpg).

While good for a three-row SUV I personally would generally prefer to go with a plugin-hybrid alternative or their traditional hybrid. However, in the case of Toyota's Highlander they have chose to go for extreme gains in efficiency vs a balanced approach that offers more power and moderately more efficiency. Here for instance, the Limited Hybrid AWD gets 36/34/35 on an engine offering a combined net HP of only 243 hp / 175 lb-ft of torque and essentially doesn't offer useful amount of towing capacity.

For families that are just looking for a super practical family hauler to take kids back and forth to school - this is perfect option but I'm not sure that it would be the right fit if you want something with a bit of zip that would be fun to take out on a weekend road trip.

highlander limited cargo

Cargo Hauling

In terms of hauling cargo, during the week we had it I was loading it to the gills multiple times each day and taking loads over to Out of the Closet or Goodwill, picking up supplies at Lowes and Home Depot and it quite impressed me since I had always thought that I needed a truck to work this well. Cargo space here is a total of 84.3 cu ft behind the front two seats, 48.4 behind the second row and 16 behind the third row.

The seats folded down easily as well to make it easy to load large flat objects like tables just as easily as it was to stack boxes and other piles of "stuff".

For folks looking for even more space, Toyota also has a Grand Highlander that provides even more cargo space as well as more leg room for passengers in the third row.

highlander limited front

Driving Experience

Once again, this is not a sexy vehicle, but it is a great option if you are looking for something "middle of the road" where practicality is more important than performance and handling. With that being said, I wouldn't for a moment suggest that the driving experience was uncomfortable or lacking. It was in fact quite enjoyable and we managed to take some quick breaks to rest our legs while rolling down the windows and laying back in the seats listening to the waves while enjoying those sea breezes that we now miss having moved to Michigan and Ohio.

toyota badge on front of highlander limited

Style and Appeal

One thing Toyota does very well is loading its vehicles with a complete suite of safety tech, and this Highlander is no different. Inside and out, it was one of the nicest Toyota vehicles that I've had the pleasure of driving. For a price of around $50,000, it offers an affordable option for someone who needs the ability to move people and stuff, and "good enough" is sufficient when it comes to sizzle and flash.

Ultimately, if you are a fan of Toyota vehicles and don't want a minivan in your driveway and you need to move people as well as cargo, this is a great option that most folks will be very happy driving.