Best & Worst Years Toyota Highlander: Top Picks & Avoids

Welcome! We’re excited to share all about the Toyota Highlander, a favorite SUV for many families. It’s got space, comfort, and it’s built to last. We know you want the best ride for your buck, so we’re here to help. Our team will walk you through the good and not-so-good years of the Highlander. Plus, we’ll talk about why thinking about resale value is a big deal for your wallet when it’s time for a new car. Let’s jump right into the world of Highlanders and find out which ones shine the brightest!

Toyota Highlander Generations

The Story of the Toyota Highlander

We’ve seen the Toyota Highlander grow up a lot since it first came out in 2001. It started as a car that was easy for families to use and not too big. Over the years, it’s changed a lot, with new looks and better stuff inside. People all over the world buy Highlanders, and they’ve become a big hit.

What Makes Each Highlander Special

  • First Gen (2001-2007): It was the first to make room for families and their stuff in a not-so-big car.
  • Second Gen (2008-2013): Got tougher and better to drive, with more ways to keep you safe.
  • Third Gen (2014-2019): Got a cooler look and tech that let you stay connected and safe on the road.
  • Fourth Gen (2020-Now): Looks sharp and comes packed with smart tech to help the driver and save on gas.

One of the coolest things they did was make a Hybrid Highlander, so you can save on gas and help the planet.

How Tech Made the Highlander Cooler

New tech has made the Highlander way better over time. It’s like every new model knows just what you want, with things like touch screens and cameras to help you drive safer. We can tell that Toyota listens to what people say because with each new Highlander, they fix stuff and add things that folks ask for. This keeps the Highlander as one of the top cars for families who need a lot of room.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Highlander 1st Generation (2001-2007)

Highlights of the Early Highlander

Back in 2001, the Toyota Highlander showed up and quickly became a family favorite. It was easy to drive, roomy, and came with a strong V6 engine option. It stood out because it was built more like a car than a truck, and you could choose to have a third row for extra seating. That was a big deal for folks with kids or lots of friends.

The Best Years for the 1st Gen Highlander

If you’re looking at the older Highlanders, the ones from 2004 to 2006 were the stars. They were trusty, had a new five-speed automatic transmission for a smoother ride, and you could get that handy third row. Plus, in 2006, they started adding stability control to keep you safe on the road. These models even won awards for being super dependable.

The Not-So-Great Years

Now, the early birds from 2001 to 2003 had a few hiccups. Some had brake problems and oxygen sensors that didn’t want to work right. They also had a couple of recalls, like one for a crankshaft sensor that could make the engine stop running.

Most people who bought a first-gen Highlander were happy campers. They liked how comfortable and useful it was. But, it’s good to know about those recalls. If you’re thinking about getting one, make sure those issues were fixed so you can drive worry-free.

We’re here to share the scoop on the Highlander so you can pick the best one. Knowing what worked well and what didn’t will help you choose a ride that’s right for you and keep you smiling on the road.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Highlander 2nd Generation (2008-2013)

What’s New with the 2nd Gen Highlander?

We saw a big change when the 2nd gen Toyota Highlander rolled out in 2008. It had a cool new look and came packed with neat stuff. It was roomier, had a comfier ride, and the engines were better — they gave you more zoom and didn’t guzzle as much gas. Plus, it was safer to drive, thanks to some smart tech.

The Top Years to Buy

If you’re eyeing a used Highlander, aim for the 2011 or 2012 models. They hit the mark with reliability and won some awards too. The 2011 Highlander got some tech updates that made it extra nice. These two are winners in our book.

The Not-So-Great Years

Let’s talk about the not-so-great stuff. The 2008 and 2009 Highlanders had a few hiccups — think air conditioning and engine cooling. They weren’t huge problems, but they were enough to make some folks frown. So, if you’re shopping for one, maybe skip these years.

How Did People Like It?

People really liked the 2nd gen Highlander. It sold well, which tells us lots of folks wanted to drive one. Safety-wise, it scored big points. Safety groups gave it a thumbs up, making it a smart pick for families.

Best & Worst Years for Toyota Highlander 3rd Generation (2014-2019)

Upgrades and Redesigns in 3rd Gen Highlanders

We saw the Toyota Highlander get a big makeover in 2014. It looked sharper and got roomier inside, fitting eight people comfy. They added cool safety stuff to help you drive safer, like warnings if you drift from your lane or help to keep your speed in check.

The Top Years for 3rd Gen Highlanders

Looking at 2016 and 2017, these Highlanders were the stars. They didn’t break down much and drove smoothly. The 2017 model even got a stronger engine and a new system that made driving more fun and saved gas.

Some Years Didn’t Shine as Bright

The 2014 model had a few hiccups with its new tech and some bits inside the car. But don’t worry, Toyota fixed these up quick in the next models.

What People Said About 3rd Gen Highlanders

Most folks loved their 3rd gen Highlanders. They said it was a great pick for families, super safe, and comfy. It even won awards for being so safe. That’s a big deal and shows that we’re not the only ones who think it’s a solid ride.

Toyota Highlander 4th Gen: The Good & The Bad (2020-Today)

Meet the Newest Highlander

The newest Toyota Highlander hit the streets in 2020, and it’s pretty cool. It’s got all the latest tech to help you drive safe and stay connected. Think of it as your trusty sidekick for family road trips and grocery runs.

Top Years So Far

Out of the gate, the 2020 Highlander won folks over. It’s like it got a makeover that made it drive smoother and keep you safer. Everyone’s loving the new gadgets that came with it, making it a smart buy.

Oops! A Few Bumps Along the Road

Even the best have bad days, and the Highlander’s no different. Some had a hiccup with the fuel pump, but Toyota didn’t waste time fixing it for free. They’ve got your back!

What’s Next?

We’re betting on seeing more hybrids in the mix, with folks digging cars that are kinder to our planet. Toyota’s listening to what you want, so expect the Highlander to keep getting better.

Toyota Highlander Average Resale Values

What Makes Your Highlander Worth More or Less

We know you care about how much cash you’ll get when you wave goodbye to your Toyota Highlander. Here’s the scoop: the better shape it’s in and the less it’s been driven, the more dough you’re likely to pocket. If it hardly ever saw the repair shop, that’s even better. But remember, things like gas prices and how many Highlanders are cruising around can change what buyers are willing to pay.

Newer vs. Older Highlanders

Let’s break it down: newer Highlanders with all the latest gadgets usually cost more when it’s time to sell. But don’t count out the older ones just yet! Some of those gems are known for running forever without a hitch, which can keep their resale price pretty sweet.

How the Year Your Highlander Rolled Off the Lot Affects Its Value

Think about this: if your Highlander had a smooth ride with no recalls or big whoopsies, it’s likely to sell for a better price. If it’s been in the shop more times than you can count, well, that can make the price take a nosedive.


Our research shows some years stand out as the best. Others have had issues. Remember, the best years had fewer problems and high reliability. The worst ones often saw recalls and faced common issues. Knowing this can help you choose the right SUV.

Our team believes in smart buying. That’s why we share info on the Toyota Highlander’s past. It can help you make a good choice. Look at the SUV’s history before you buy. This could save you money and stress in the long run.

Thinking about resale value is smart. It tells you about a car’s worth down the road. We say, look at resale value when picking a Highlander. It’s a big part of the cost of owning a car. We hope our guide helps you find an SUV that keeps its value well. Happy hunting!