The Highlander entered its fourth generation in 2020, keeping the family-oriented, three-row midsized SUV market in line. The Highlander has long been a mainstay and “best-of” choice for that important segment and its changes for the new generation kept that expectation alive. However, there’s a lot of competition in midsized three-row options.
The 2022 Highlander holds with the crossover’s general motif of being comfortable, quiet, ergonomic, and efficient. The high ride height and good visibility are definite high points for those looking for what an SUV can offer over a sedan or hatchback. The three rows of seating and added cargo space over those smaller options are also pluses. But compared to a minivan or many other three-row midsized crossovers, the Highlander’s third row and cargo aren’t as impressive.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander has a 3.5-liter V6 that outputs 295 horsepower to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is default, but all-wheel drive is available on most trim levels. The Highlander Hybrid model switches to a more 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric hybrid system (243 hp combined). There is about $5,000 in price difference between the base level Highlander Hybrid and its gas-only equivalent.
Our drive this year was with the 3.5L model, but we drove the hybrid last year and little has changed for the Highlander in that model year change.
What’s most impressive about the Highlander is its interior space. It’s comfortable, well-designed, and ergonomic to use. With the exception of the third row, which is kids-only, the seating arrangements in the 2022 Highlander are very comfortable and well done. Cargo space is good if the third row isn’t being used, but is otherwise cramped. And with the captain’s chairs option, it’s not flat when the second row is folded to add more space. The second-row bench folds much flatter by comparison.
Most of all, though, the 2022 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid are efficient and easy to drive on the daily. We beat the Highlander’s EPA rating for the highway by a full MPG point (27 EPA versus 28 mpg for us) and the hybrid is even better than that (36 mpg combined).
As an everyday, the Highlander offers easy maneuverability, great visibility, and a lot of creature comforts that aren’t noticed until they’re in the foreground. Like the multitude of places to put a phone, purse, change from the drive thru, and more. Kids with tablets will have a place to put them (assuming they use it, which.. well, they’re kids). Box store runs are easily accommodated for storage and home improvement jaunts can be covered too.
In all, the 2022 Highlander epitomizes what the midsized SUV segment is all about. Unlike the truck-based 4Runner or Sequoia, the Highlander offers a smooth ride with a lot of comfort and good fuel economy. Which is where the Highlander’s sweet spot should be.
This review first appeared on DriveModeShow.