Review: 2009 Toyota Highlander: not just for wild weekends in Vegas anymore


Let’s face it in general the Japaneses, and Toyota specifically,
tend to build mature cars for grown-ups. The Toyota Highlander isn’t
the type of vehicle that you’d want to drive to a wild and lost
bachelor or bachelorette weekend in Vegas with even the slightest the
possibility of a lacy bra ending up wrapped around the rear view mirror.

the other hand, the Toyota Highlander is the car you’d want when
picking up the kiddos from their first ever band concert. Not only does
the pleasing silence of the car restore shattered and frayed nerves
after a half hour of wildly missed notes and duck clarinet calls, but
best of all it will easily fit booger Bob (your son’s best friend) tuba
in the back along with the rest of the percussion section and all of
their XXL sized instruments.

best of all, if you happen to get the basic four banger this comfy
potential seven-seater will cruise all day long at twenty plus plus
plus miles to the gallon of gas.

Unfortunately the 2.7 L 187
HP engine will also huff and puff and drown on ceaselessly as well on
any incline bigger than a typical driveway, or when the car is loaded
down and forced to climb a mountain pass.

There is a strong
case to be made that if you can afford it you’d do well to go for the
optional and bigger 3.5L 270 HP V6 or better yet the HyHy.

HyHy as our friends affectionately call their Toyota Highlander Hybrid,
to distinguished it from the much more common PriHy (Prius Hybrid)
packs all of the utility of the base model with better gas mileage and
an electric motor to help motivate the Highlander up to and over the
high land.

Errrrr…was the sound of my frustration as I kept
fiddling with the base models air-conditioning to keep a constant
temperature in the car. Call me spoiled, pampered, and lazy if you
must, but there are a few features all cars (over 25K) sold in the 20th
century in the U.S. should have…even the base model, and these in my
opinion are:

1) an outside temperate gauge

2)  a basic computer that calculates mpg and miles to empty

3) Automatic climate control that keep a constant temperature in the car and…

4) Heated and cooled seats

so I’m just kidding about the heated and cooled seats, but just like a
heated steering wheel, once you’ve had a car with heated and cooled
seats (and heated steering wheel) it is hard to go back to fiddling
with manual controls for basic cabin comfort.

And speaking of
manual controls the Highlander’s rotary dials are enormous. The two
main audio “jitterbug” sized controls are perfect for either toddles,
seniors or passengers who have had a few too many glasses of wine. All
will be thrilled by the ease of use, simplicity of design and
straightforward functionality.

Astute readers may be wondering
how the Highlander drivers. “So how does the Highlander drive Roman,”
you may be thinking to yourself at this point of the review?

Like a comfy, honest, and yet somewhat underpowered SUV, would be my immediate answer.Let’s
face facts, the base front wheel drive Highlander won’t be taking on
any Swedish rally courses in the near future. It’s much more designed
for avoiding shopping carts at Walmart than trees in Sweden.

if you happen to fold down the second row and third row seats (if you
have them) you’ll end us with a king sized cavern for hauling
everything from percussion equipment to a well…a king sized bed.

come to think of it, maybe the Highlander might be the perfect vehicle
for that lost bachelor or bachelorette weekend in Vegas.

2009 Toyota Highlander 4X2 SUV

Price as Tested: $27,740.00

Engine, Transmission:  2.7L 4cyl Eng w>Dual WT with 6-speed ECT Automatic Sequential shift transmission

Horsepower: 187

G-Tac Test Data

1/4 Mile: 17.25 second at 87 mph

0-60 mph: 9.59

Max Acceleration: 0.77 g’s

EPA Fuel Economy Estimates

City: 20.0 mpg

Highway: 27.0 mpg

Combined: 22.0 mpg

CO2 per year: 11,179

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Roman Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he’s not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for, Mica is also the Endurance Sports Examiner.