Holding Its Own: The 2015 Toyota Highlander

side view of 2015 Toyota Highlander
The 2015 Toyota Highlander.
The current-generation Toyota Highlander hasn't been one of TireKicker's favorites, which is putting it mildy (our Publisher and Executive Editor found several faults with the re-design in his review 15 months ago).  But three-row midsize SUV buyers appear to disagree.

2015 Toyota Highlander rear 3/4 view
2015 Toyota Highlander.
In that segment, the Highlander is second in sales only to the Ford Explorer. And that is no small achievement.

Styling is always a matter of personal taste. We still think the nose of the Highlander is unfortunate. The curves at the back come at the expense of interior room (there is less back there than in the previous generations).  It is also, in limited V6 AWD trim like our test vehicle, somewhat pricey (base $41,300...as tested, with rear seat entertainment, the driver technology package, towing hitch and wiring, running boards and remote engine start, $47,417.

Interior view of 2015 Toyota Highlander
2015 Toyota Highlander interior.
And while headroom isn't the issue for me that it is for Michael, the long reach across the instrument panel is even longer.  The design is undeniably attractive, but it's a long reach to the farthest controls, which are more than halfway across the cabin, and steering wheel controls only do so much.

Upsides?  Fuel economy is on par with some Explorer models, and an MPG here and there better than others.  And there's always the legendary Toyota reliability.   Perhaps what bothers us so much is that, for all of its existence, the Highlander was hard to find fault with.  Styling might have been a bit bland, but uncontroversial, utility and functionality were unassailable and the price wasn't likely to induce sticker shock even in top-of-the-line models.  Underneath, the Highlander is a fine vehicle.  We're hoping the mid-cycle refresh will address at least the styling, interior room and ergonomic issues.