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    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2017 Toyota Highlander XLE AWD

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    The Toyota Highlander may not be the flashiest or fun to drive. But it has many qualities to make it one of Toyota’s best selling models such as functional and spacious interior, long list of standard equipment, and high-reliability marks. Last year, Toyota unveiled an updated Highlander with tweaks to the exterior, revised V6, and more safety. Considering it has been a few years since we last checked out the Highlander, it seemed a revisit was in order.

    • The 2017 Highlander boasts new front and rear fascias to give it a more SUV-appearance and we think Toyota has mostly succeeded in this regard. The only issue is the front end reminding us too much of a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica TV. Thank the new grille design for this.
    • Move inside and the Highlander is the same as we last saw it back in 2014 when we did our original review. This is both good and bad. The good is that the controls for the various functions are easy to use. The center console features a huge storage bin that you can easily fit a large purse or a laptop computer. A shelf underneath climate controls provides a nice space to throw small items such as a smartphone. The bad is that the controls for certain functions are not in easy reach for the drive. We also not fans of the capacitive touch buttons around the 8-inch touchscreen as they didn’t always respond. There were times we found ourselves hitting the buttons two to three times to get something to happen.
    • The infotainment system itself is beginning to look somewhat dated with an interface that looks like it comes from the Windows XP era and the screen is somewhat dim. But we cannot argue that the system is easy to use thanks to a simple layout.
    • Passengers sitting in the front and second-row seats will appreciate the large amount of head and legroom on offer. Also, the seats themselves are padded quite nicely. We do wish the second-row was mounted slightly higher for better long-distance comfort.
    • The third-row seat as the seats aren’t that comfortable due to the thin amount of padding. Legroom is also quite tight with only 27.7-inches of space, meaning this is a space best reserved for small kids.
    • Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain.
    • Toyota’s V6 engine is one our favorites as it provides impressive acceleration and a steady stream of power up to redline. This updated engine is no exception as it feels slightly quicker than the last Highlander we drove. 
    • The powertrain stumbles somewhat due to the eight-speed automatic’s programming. Toyota went for something that focuses on fuel economy which means the transmission is quick to upshift, but slow to downshift. This means you’ll be waiting for a moment or two for the transmission to get its act together when trying to merge onto a freeway.
    • You might be fooled into thinking that you’re riding in a Lexus considering the smooth ride of the Highlander. Bumps are turned into minor ripples. Little road and wind noise that come inside.
    • The Highlander is a vehicle you want to keep in its comfort zone when it comes to handling. Push it in a corner and you’ll experience excessive body roll.
    • One thing Toyota deserves credit for the 2018 Highlander is having a number of active features standard across the entire Highlander lineup. This includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking; and lane departure warning with lane keep assist. The only item we would like to see added to this list is blind spot monitoring. You can only get it on XLE models and above.

    Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2017
    Make: Toyota
    Model: Highlander
    Trim: XLE AWD
    Engine: 3.5L DOHC D-4S with Dual VVT-i V6
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, 
    Horsepower @ RPM: 295 @ 6,600
    Torque @ RPM: 263 @ 4,700
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/22
    Curb Weight: 4,430 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana
    Base Price: $39,980
    As Tested Price: $43,184 (Includes $960.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    Rear Seat BluRay Entertainment System - $1,810.00
    Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00
    Body Side Molding - $209.00

    Edited by William Maley

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    Nice ride, over all I am sure a solid CUV competitor and of course the Toyota loyal Lemmings will love it.

    For me I usually like the brick on wheels look but this is just a Meh to me. Weird.

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    I will say ditto to pretty much what dfelt wrote.  Nothing too exciting and it is a Toyota, soooooo..... unless you get in the "Wayback" machine a few decades, you are getting a competent and either poorly styled or. at the very least, mundane looking vehicle.

    And this Highlander is all of that and the proverbial "bag o' chips".

    Edited by lengnert

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    I am not a huge fan of the big grill, but I think it looks overall pretty good considering how everything else in the segment looks.

    It is not sporty but what other 3 row CUV in the segment, maybe besides CX-9, can claim to be sporty?  

    Nice interior, excellent V6 , great reliability.  No wonder Toyota sells boatload of them.

    5-year reliability data from true-delta

    image.png.92e2ef26557d3f1f0c669d0a440edfbe.png

    Edited by ykX

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    Sounds like that XLE Highlander is trying to be a cheaper version of the Lexus RX, if the RX were a 7 seater rather than a 5 seater.  Then again, in some respects it looks like an Enclave competitor without the Buick curves or presumably the personality.

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    Front is pretty ugly, maybe less so than the RX.  Strong similarity to the GC in greenhouse, rear and rear quarter that I've noticed. 

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    A good friend who had 2 crv's in the past (and hated them) just got their second highlander. They love them. He gives them glowing review. Right size for them with 2 kids in college. Good performance and as good of mpg as the crvs. Basically he has nothing bad to say about them. 

    I drove the cx-9 and it's chic but the turbo four is an epic fail compared to this since the v6 here will prob get the same or better mpg. 

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    12 minutes ago, regfootball said:

    A good friend who had 2 crv's in the past (and hated them) just got their second highlander. They love them. He gives them glowing review. Right size for them with 2 kids in college. Good performance and as good of mpg as the crvs. Basically he has nothing bad to say about them. 

    I drove the cx-9 and it's chic but the turbo four is an epic fail compared to this since the v6 here will prob get the same or better mpg. 

    Yeah.  Turbo 4cyl do not belong in a CX-9 or a Highlander.  The V6 is still useful.  Mazda better buy a clue or dump the CX-9.

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    Highlander are boring to drive and on par with everything else. People who have never driven a performance auto thinks there great when in fact they are just boring lemming mobiles.

    This will sell to the same lemming crowd but is far from a performance fun CUV to drive.

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    8 hours ago, dfelt said:

    Highlander are boring to drive and on par with everything else. People who have never driven a performance auto thinks there great when in fact they are just boring lemming mobiles.

    This will sell to the same lemming crowd but is far from a performance fun CUV to drive.

    Which exactly performance CUV you are talking about that would have three rows and will cost around $40k?

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    5 hours ago, ykX said:

    Which exactly performance CUV you are talking about that would have three rows and will cost around $40k?

    True, we no longer have any reasonably priced performance SUV/CUV's that cost $40K.

    Trailblazer SS was the last reasonable performance SUV that was out on the market.

    Durango has them but far from the $40K price.

    Still I would not use performance to describe the Highlander AWD CUV.

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    5 minutes ago, dfelt said:

     

    Still I would not use performance to describe the Highlander AWD CUV.

    No one did...it's a midsize 3 row family hauler like the Explorer, etc..

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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    10 minutes ago, dfelt said:

     

    Still I would not use performance to describe the Highlander AWD CUV.

    I don't think anybody did describe it as such.   Nor any other CUV in the segment

    Edited by ykX

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    On 10/13/2017 at 8:28 AM, William Maley said:

    Most Highlanders like our XLE AWD tester will feature Toyota’s latest 3.5L V6 that comes with direct and port fuel-injection and an upgraded valve train. The end result is 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque - up 25 and 15 respectively. This is paired with a new eight-speed automatic. Other engines include a four-cylinder for the base LE and a hybrid powertrain.

    I wonder if/when the Tacoma will take over these power numbers with that 8spd. it could desperately use both that hp/tq tune and 8spd(although more tq would be better yet). Heck, even the hybrid system would be great for it. I wonder who will be the first to throw a hybrid system in their mid size trucks. 

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    2 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    I wonder if/when the Tacoma will take over these power numbers with that 8spd. it could desperately use both that hp/tq tune and 8spd(although more tq would be better yet). Heck, even the hybrid system would be great for it. I wonder who will be the first to throw a hybrid system in their mid size trucks. 

    Agree on the Hybrid for mid size trucks, Hopefully GM will be first and continue to lead the way. Here is to positive thinking.

    3 hours ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    No one did...it's a midsize 3 row family hauler like the Explorer, etc..

     

    2 hours ago, ykX said:

    I don't think anybody did describe it as such.   Nor any other CUV in the segment

    True no one came out and said it was a performance version, but Riviera74 said good performance and even that I am not so sure as the engine has to rev like crazy to product torque to move it's ass.

    In that regards I do not consider it good performance or any performance but then I admit my view is skewed as I see things as one that has nothing but big and small block V8's.

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    5 minutes ago, dfelt said:

     

    True no one came out and said it was a performance version, but Riviera74 said good performance and even that I am not so sure as the engine has to rev like crazy to product torque to move it's ass.

    In that regards I do not consider it good performance or any performance but then I admit my view is skewed as I see things as one that has nothing but big and small block V8's.

    Your are confusing 'good performance' with 'high performance'...a semantic disconnect.   Engines can perform to spec and be class-competitive (perform well within their product class) without being considered high performance.  

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    • Upvote 1

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    12 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

    Your are confusing 'good performance' with 'high performance'...a semantic disconnect.   Engines can perform to spec and be class-competitive (perform well within their product class) without being considered high performance.  

    Yes it is a semantic of words, Perform well in it's class is fine for this auto. Performance is another thing altogether. :) 

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    26 minutes ago, dfelt said:

    as the engine has to rev like crazy to product torque to move it's ass.

    In that regards I do not consider it good performance or any performance but then I admit my view is skewed as I see things as one that has nothing but big and small block V8's.

    Yeah welcome to modern n/a V6's... That's basically just what they're like in comparison to turbo 4s and V8s, let alone tubo V8s.

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    3 hours ago, ccap41 said:

    Yeah welcome to modern n/a V6's... That's basically just what they're like in comparison to turbo 4s and V8s, let alone tubo V8s.

    Modern engines suck in many regards as well as have some cool tech, like my NA V6 and V8 Pushrod engines over the cam crap engines and especially the turbos. Would rather have a supercharger that goes with the flow of the engine helping out from low to high rpm than a turbo.

    EV will address all those shortcomings in the near future. ;) 

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      At an event in May, I got to spend some time with the 2020 Kia Telluride. The Telluride is an all-new model for Kia, though it is based on the Kia Sorento’s platform.  Being a good bit longer than the 7-passenger Sorento, it is substantially roomier inside, allowing for 7 or 8 passenger configurations depending on trim level.  The version I tested was the top of the line SX package with all-wheel drive and an additional Prestige Package.  Kia makes standard a whole host of active safety equipment.  Thankfully, I didn’t get to test any of the more important ones. One important safety feature on my shopping list is Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, and the Kia has it standard.
      On appearance alone, Kia is going to have a hit on their hands.  Though on the same platform as the Kia Sorento, the Telluride strikes a handsome square and almost truck-like silhouette. The overall look is of a vehicle even bigger than it is. Up front are an attractive set of headlight clusters with yellow surround daytime running lamps. As this is a new entry to the segment, Kia spells out the model name across the front of the hood making sure you know what model vehicle it is.  It still manages to look classy. My tester had the black 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, and rear fix-glass sunroof that comes with the SX trim level.  
      Because this was the top of the line SX with Prestige Package, it came with beautiful Napa leather chairs, second-row captain chairs, heads up display, and premium cloth headliner and sun visors.  The overall fit and finish of my tester was excellent. Switchgear is nicely weighted and has a premium, if not luxury, feel to it. The styling inside is handsome if conservative, and passengers could be fooled into thinking they were in a vehicle of higher pedigree.  While it is roomier than the Sorento, is it still smaller than some of its primary competition. The Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Buick Enclave all boast roomier interiors.  Still, second-row comfort was good and third-row accessibility is acceptable, though best left to the kids.
      My experience with the Telluride’s 10-inch infotainment system was limited, however, it is based on the same UVO system found in their other vehicles.  Even in its native modes, I find Kia UVO to be one of the easier systems to use, but if you use the included Android Auto and Apple Car Play most often, you won’t be in the native system much anyway.
      The only engine option on the Kia Telluride is a 291 horsepower 3.8 liter direct-injected V6.  Torque comes in at 261 lb-ft, about average for this segment.  Coupled to the engine is an 8-speed automatic, and if you check the box for an additional $2,000, you get an active AWD system.  The system constantly monitors traction and via a controller in the cabin, the driver can select between 80/20 (Comfort and Snow), 65/35 (Sport), and 50/50 (Lock, best used for off-roading).  If you do care to do off-roading, you have 8-inches of ground clearance to play with. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds which again is pretty much the expected capacity for the segment. EPA fuel economy is rated at 19 city / 24 highway / 21 combined.  The 2020 Telluride has not yet received a crash test rating.
      Though the engine only puts out 261 lb-ft of torque, the 8-speed automatic makes quick work of it and acceleration is sufficient at a reported 7.1 seconds.  Engine noise is hushed and refined.
      One of my favorite things about the Kia Telluride is its ride. The suspension is soft and comfortable.  The big 20-inch wheels can slam hard if one hits some more serious potholes, but overall this is one of the nicest riding big SUVs.  That soft suspension does have a downside; body roll and handling are not what you would call sporting. Though the steering is precise and well weighted, the big Kia hefts and leans through corners. Take it slow with grandma in the back and all will be well.  The towing package adds a hitch receiver and a load leveling suspension.
      Kia is not a brand known for luxury vehicles, but in SX Prestige trim, this Telluride can certainly count as one.  That leads us to the price. At $46,860 after destination charges, the Telluride handily undercuts the competition, some of which don’t even offer the level of active safety technology the Kia offers as standard.  If you’re shopping in the large SUV segment, the Kia Telluride is definitely one to add to your test drive list.
      Year: 2020
      Make: Kia 
      Model: Telluride
      Trim: SX
      Engine: 3.8L Gasoline Direct Injected V6
      Driveline: All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 291 hp @ 6,000 rpm
      Torque @ RPM: 262 lb.-ft. @ 5,200 rpm 
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/24/21
      Curb Weight: 4482 lb.
      Location of Manufacture: West Point, GA
      Base Price: $31,690
      As Tested Price: $45,815
      Destination Charge: $1,045
      Options:
      SX Prestige Package - $2,000
      Carpeted Floor Mats - $210
      Carpeted Cargo Mat w/ Seat Back Protection - $115
    • By William Maley
      Seven years ago, I drove the previous-generation Mitsubishi Outlander for a week-long review. There was a lot to like about the previous model as it featured distinctive shape, comfortable ride, and being somewhat fun to drive. But in other areas, the model fell a bit flat. Poor material choices, firm ride, and the optional V6 engine feeling slightly lackluster. I ended my review with this,
      “Mitsubishi has shown a new Outlander at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Underneath the Outlander’s new sheet metal lies a new vehicle architecture and will have the choice between gas and plug-in hybrid power. The new Outlander also gets revised interior and new safety equipment. The question is will the new Outlander be able to fix the problems of the current one?”
      It has taken a fair amount of time to get my hands on the new Outlander. In that time, Mitsubishi has made a number of changes and updates to the Outlander lineup such as a revised exterior. Was it worth the wait?
      The Outlander’s shape is nothing too special with rounded corners, large glass area, and a set of 18-inch alloy wheels that comes standard on most models. For 2019, Mitsubishi has updated the Outlander’s front end with a new grille shape, headlights, and more chrome trim. It does help spruce up the design that has been with us since 2014. My only complaint is the dark silver paint on my tester. It makes the vehicle look like a giant blob. There isn’t anything that sets the interior apart from rivals. The design is somewhat plain, but material quality is quite surprising with an abundance of soft-touch materials. There is a fair amount of piano black trim, which does attract fingerprints. All Outlanders come with a 7-inch touchscreen running Mitsubishi’s latest infotainment system is standard. Those wanting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto need to step up to the SE or higher. My experience with the system mimics the Eclipse Cross; lags behind the competition in terms of the interface and performance, but its a huge step forward from the previous system. The Outlander is one of the few models in the compact crossover class that can boast having three-rows to allow seating for seven. This seat is best reserved for small kids due to the limited amount of leg and headroom. Having the third-row also eats into cargo space - 10.3 vs. 33 cubic feet with the seats folded. Front and rear seating is fine. There’s enough padding to keep everyone comfortable on a long trip, and most passengers will be able to stretch out. Most Outlanders come equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine producing 166 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a CVT and the choice of front or Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control. Step up to the GT to get a 3.0L V6 packing 224 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. There’s also a PHEV option which I talk about more in this first drive piece. The 2.4 is serviceable around town with brisk acceleration and minimal noise. But take the Outlander on the highway or fill it up with people and cargo, and the 2.4 feels overwhelmed. Not helping is the CVT that will drone quite loudly when you plant your foot on the gas. Fuel economy is mid-pack with EPA figures of 24 City/29 Highway/26 Combined for the AWD version - front-wheel drive models see a one MPG improvement. My average for the week landed around 24. One area that I was surprised by the Outlander was the ride. Over the varied surfaces on offer in the Metro Detroit area, the Outlander’s suspension smoothed out various bumps. It doesn’t feel comfortable around corners, showing noticeable body lean and a disconnected steering system.  The Mitsubishi Outlander answers the oddly specific question of, “what is the cheapest three-row crossover I could buy?’ I can see why someone on a tight budget would consider one as the Outlander provides a lot of standard equipment, along with seating for seven at a low price. It doesn’t hurt that Mitsubishi’s 5 year/60,000 mile new car warranty does provide peace of mind for those who want a bit of security. But it does become a poor value the higher you climb in price. My Outlander SEL S-AWC tester starts at $29.095. With the optional SEL Touring Package (forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, and a 710W Rockford Fosgate audio system) and carpeted floor mats, the price ballooned to $33,225 with destination. For that amount of cash, you get into a decently equipped Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5. I know dealers put cash on the hoods - most dropping the cost to under $30,000, but it is still a tough sell. Disclaimer: Mitsubishi Provided the Outlander, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2019
      Make: Mitsubishi
      Model: Outlander
      Trim: SEL S-AWC
      Engine: 2.4L MIVEC SOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 166 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 162 @ 4,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/29/26
      Curb Weight: 3,472 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Okazaki, Japan
      Base Price: $29,095
      As Tested Price: $33,225 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      SEL Touring Package - $3,000.00
      Accessory Carpeted Floors Mats and Portfolio - $135.00

      View full article
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