The Toyota Highlander is classified as a midsize crossover SUV and is manufactured entirely by Toyota. This vehicle uses the same platform as the Toyota Camry and was first announced in April of 2000 at the New York Auto Show. The Highlander arrived in 2000 in Japan and the following year was released in the North American market. This vehicle quickly became Toyota’s best-selling SUV before it was passed up by the RAV4 in 2006. Because the Highlander name could not be used in Japan and Australia due to trademark complications, it was called the Toyota Kluger.
The first generation of the Highlander used the same platform as the Lexus RX/Toyota Harrier and was available five configurations, becoming a massive sales success for Toyota in a variety of markets all over the world. This vehicle had front wheel drive as a standard feature as well as all wheel drive. The unit body construction of this vehicle was design specifically for on-road comfort, which was a massive departure from some of its competitors, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as the Chevy Trailblazer.
The Highlander was initially available in three different trim lines when it was released in the U.S, including the base model, Sport model, and Limited model. Both the base and Limited models were already in production was the Highlander was originally launched, but the Sport model did not become available to the public until March of 2006. The Highlander is marketed as a luxury vehicle in Japan, as the Kluger exceeds the official regulations for engine displacement and exterior dimensions which have been laid out by the Japanese Government. The wheels on the Limited edition of this vehicle were changed from a six-spoke to a five-spoke alloy in 2004. The base model of the Highlander also saw some changes with new allow wheels, which were a significant upgrade from the previous steel-rims.
When it comes to safety, the Toyota Highlander has anti-lock brakes as well as electronic brakeforce distribution and Vehicle Stability Control with traction control option on all 2001-2003 models. A tire pressure monitor was standard for the 2004 models and front-seat mounted side torso airbags came optional with the 2001-2006 Highlander models. There were also front and second row side curtain airbags which were yet another optional feature on all of the 2004-2006 models. Side airbags became a standard feature on all of these models in 2007, which is also when they gained a rollover sensor.
In 2010, the Highlander received some significant updates to its overall design. The 2011 model year came with quite a few nice changes, though the general design is similar to the 2010 model. The front end of this vehicle was heavily revised and features new headlights as well as black with chrome accent rocker panel and a new front grill. The non-hybrid engine which the 2011 uses is the same, though the 2.7 liter 4-cylinder engine may become available for the SE trim as well.
All of the more recent Highlander model come with enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, which is able to immediately alter the electric power steering assist with traction control. There are also anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, driver’s side knee airbag, front seat-mounted side torso airbags, side curtain airbags, and a number of other safety features. The Kluger Hybrid comes with Toyotat’s Hybrid Energy Drive and allows for an electric-only powered mode for only short distances and speeds. This vehicle was considered to be highly innovative at the time and captured the interest of consumers all over the world. This vehicle is definitely one of Toyota’s best-selling models in recent history.