The 2021 Toyota Highlander Is the Toyota SUV Owners Love the Most

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Not everyone adores their vehicle. However, some owners really do. Some even give their vehicles names. Toyota makes several SUV models, but the 2021 Highlander is the brand’s SUV that owners love the most. Here’s why.

Consumer Reports’ owner satisfaction scores

RELATED: There’s 1 Huge Reason the 2021 Toyota Highlander Stands out in Its Class

Consumer Reports conducts an annual survey, and one question asks, “Would you get this car if you had to do it all over again?” The answers that CR collects from vehicle owners help determine the owner satisfaction rating because it’s based on the percentage of owners who said they’d definitely buy the same vehicle again. But a vehicle that earns a high owner satisfaction score isn’t necessarily fantastic or even one that Consumer Reports recommends. It indicates only that owners are happy with their vehicles.

Consumer Reports‘ 2020 survey includes responses from owners of 329,000 vehicles spanning 2000 to 2020 model years. Predicted owner satisfaction scores go to new model years based on the scores that models received in recent years. 

The Toyota Highlander is the brand’s best-loved SUV

The 2021 Toyota Highlander isn’t the best-loved three-row SUV of all models on Consumer Reports’ list. It falls behind the 2021 Kia Telluride, 2021 Lincoln Aviator, 2021 Tesla Model X, and 2021 Hyundai Palisade. However, the Highlander is the highest-rated three-row SUV that Toyota makes, coming in just ahead of the 4Runner. Among more similar SUVs, the Highlander comes in third behind the Telluride and Palisade. Consumer Reports found that 78 percent of owners said they would purchase their Highlander over again.

The 2021 Highlander boasts a predicted owner satisfaction score of 4 out of 5 from Consumer Reports. Of that overall rating, the score for driving experience is 84 out of 100. For comfort, the score is 85 out of 100. For value, the predicted owner satisfaction score is 48 out of 100. And for styling, the score is 79 out of 100.

Overview of the 2021 Toyota Highlander

Toyota redesigned the Highlander when the fourth generation appeared for the 2020 model year. The automaker also improved the handling, which was already good. The 295-hp V6 gas engine gets 22 mpg, and the 243-hp hybrid model gets 35 mpg. Consumer Reports praises the Highlander for its “smooth powertrain.”

Toyota also updated the interior, especially in higher trim levels. This midsize three-row SUV seats seven or eight people, depending upon the model. It offers plenty of space in the second row, but the third row is a bit small.

As for features, the infotainment system provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The Highlander also boasts the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ suite. Advanced safety features include forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assistance. Blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on all trim levels except the base model.

The 2021 Toyota Highlander’s starting prices range from $35,085 to $50,640.

RELATED: Consumer Reports Recommends Buying the 2021 Toyota Highlander This Year

Buyers flock to the Toyota Highlander for its excellent safety ratings and advanced safety features that come standard on all trims. The Highlander also offers high reliability, a nice driving experience, and good resale value. That’s all wrapped up in a nice design at a reasonable price.

Toyota makes two midsize SUVs, and both appear on Consumer Reports’ list of the most satisfying new midsize SUVs. Owners love the 2021 Toyota Highlander more than the 4Runner, though, and their ratings reflect that. Both SUVs have a 4 out of 5 for predicted owner satisfaction from Consumer Reports, but the Highlander’s individual scores are higher. The 4Runner rated lower in owner satisfaction, especially for driving experience and comfort.

These two SUVs are different in other ways as well. U.S. News calls the 2021 Highlander “a safe, comfortable, and refined family hauler” and says the 2021 4Runner “is a rugged, dated, body-on-frame off-roader.” Toyota recently redesigned the Highlander but hasn’t fully updated the 4Runner since in 2010. Plus, the Highlander provides more advanced safety features and is also less expensive than the 4Runner. It offers a nicer interior and a more powerful engine with better fuel efficiency. However, the 4Runner boasts higher predicted reliability, more cargo space, and off-roading chops.

Though both SUVs are good options, the Toyota Highlander is a popular SUV that makes its owners happy.

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