2009 Toyota Highlander 4-door 4X2 SUV (749)


This week we’re looking at the 2009 Toyota Highlander 4-door 4X2 SUV. When I picked it up on my return from an assignment in Sacramento, my associate got in and said, “what a coincidence – I had already decided I was going to buy a Highlander to replace my current car – a Toyota Sequoia and the only difference is that I want the Hybrid”.

My response was that this 4-cylinder may be a better buy in the long run, because I’m still concerned about the potential for high maintenance costs down the road. The non-conventional components and technology are untested long enough to ease my mind.

As to my friend buying this Highlander I will bet he’ll buy the V6 because it is more powerful at 270 horsepower. It will be a business vehicle and even though he’ll get less fuel economy he knows his tax rate is 43% Federal and State. Obama and the Demo congress are sure to try to make it even higher to pay for the “Change” promised. So, at the end of the day his waste will be paid in equal parts by his adopted Uncle when he deducts the increased fuel costs. What do you think – tax increases to 50% – 60%. Hell, just lay off one more employee and don’t worry about the extra gas.


You know what – I get tired on our crowded highways when an unfortunate accident happens. But I have to tell you that the cost to society in additional burning of fuel, lost time at work and general frustration and stress cause much more damage to us all than the benefit of detailed scrutiny on what caused the accident, who was at fault etc. No-fault insurance should eliminate the need to look so closely. They can work out the details later. In the meantime, we need to get that traffic log jam cleared faster.

I get mad as hell watching the Highway Patrol gloat over the jam as they snub their noses at thousands of people slowed to a stop, while they do their jobs. I have news for them – they are more the problem than the solution. And we’re not impressed by their Gestapo posture.

Put larger bumpers on the front of those squad cars we drivers / commuters pay for and push the damn car off to the side and allow the rest of us to get to OUR jobs because we’re not there to watch you do yours.

When you consider lost time of say a half hour for each accident the cost is nearly unfathomable to the hundreds of thousands of commuters involved. For you math wizards out there, call me when you calculate the millions of dollars in extra fuel, and lost productivity. Hint: deduct the huge percentage of government employees who do not actually produce any goods and services in this economy.

Handling & Performance:

Responsive beyond what you’d expect for a 4-cylinder 187 hp engine. Trust me – test this engine configuration and I think you’ll agree you don’t need the V6 with 80 hp more and you won’t use so much gas.


Highlander is nice looking with very clean lines, but the design more importantly provides a quiet ride. After coming out of a recent test of the Subaru Forester SUV I noticed how much more noise you get from the road and other moving parts in that Forester. I had to slam the Subaru for the high noise level because insulation is perhaps the least expensive thing to include in the design. Shame on them and kudos to Toyota for the better design.

Fit and Finish:

Always a pleasure to be reminded how well Toyota does on assembly.


OK, so there’s a cost to all that good workmanship noted above, but you won’t see it reflected in the prices of this class SUV as much as you’d expect.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good but, of course, you’ll pay more for the goodies.

Consumer Recommendation:

Price demands you include Highlander in your search. Me – I’d pony up a few extra Jewish shekels for the quality workmanship. But the Dodge Journey is a pretty compelling competitor for a lot less money so don’t leave that one out. I’ve tested them all and if money is not an issue I’d also look closely at the Cad SRX (elegant and one of my favorites).

Recognized Competition:

Toyota Highlander $26-35,000, Dodge Journey $21-29,000, Buick Enclave $35-39,000, GMC Acadia $32-40,000, Cadillac SRX $40-47,000, Subaru Tribeca $30-34,000, Kia Borrego $26-40,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $20-26,000, Chevrolet Traverse $29-41,000, Lincoln MKX $38-40,000, Lexus RX 350 $37-38,000, Nissan Murano $28-37,000, Honda Pilot $28-40,000, Ford Edge $27-37,000, Suzuki XL-7 $26-30,000, Saturn Outlook $31-36,000, Mazda CX-9 $30-35,000, Volvo XC60 $ n/a, Hyundai Veracruz $ n/a.

Good News:

Good pricing, good quality, decent fuel economy in the 4-cylinder version with good performance.

Bad News:

The Economy.

Standard Equipment:

2.7 liter 187 hp inline 4-cylinder engine, front wheel drive, 6-speed automatic trans, power steering, 4-wheel power anti-lock disc brakes with EDB (brake force distribution), 17” alloy wheels, stability control, front side and roll sensing curtain airbags, 2nd row child restraints and tether anchors, power mirrors, front variable and rear intermittent wipers, privacy glass, auto headlights, air conditioning, audio with CD player and auxiliary jack, power windows & locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, tilt & telescopic wheel, cloth interior, driver 8-way and passenger 4-way seats and 40/20/40 split 2nd row seat.

Gas Stats:

$2.11/ Gal avg. Feb 28, ‘09
for more information.

20 City and 27 Highway MPG


MSRP $25,705.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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