Why the 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited 3 Row SUV Could Be My Next Purchase

2017 Houston Auto Show
In the market for an SUV?Be sure to look at the 2017 Toyota Highlander at the auto show. photo credit: A Girls Guide to Cars

The just right 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited family SUV.

We’ve driven an older model SUV around for many years. It boasts over 200,000 miles and it’s still going strong. My only complaints are bad gas mileage and the fact that it looks like a dinosaur. So, while I don’t NEED a new SUV yet, I’ve been keeping my eye on mid-size SUVs that might make a good replacement a few years down the road. I thought I had one picked out until I drove the 2016 Toyota Highlander.

I honestly don’t know why we didn’t pay more attention to this vehicle before now. It’s the right size for us, it’s a Toyota – which is already a plus in our book, and its super popular. It even has cargo space behind the third row seat which is a must for my next SUV.

2016 Toyota Highlander Limited Awd

Kid approved. Plenty of space and comfort for road trips! Credit: Erica Mueller for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Our first impressions of the Highlander

It may not have been love at first sight, but by our second or third outing I was sold. My husband only had to drive it one day to work and back and he was singing its praises and declaring we could have a Highlander! My kids were easy sells, but they love every new vehicle and options like a panoramic moonroof are pretty impressive, so I usually try to wait a few days before considering their opinions.

2016 Toyota Highlander Limited Awd

Comfort and luxury in the Limited Edition. I do like this all black interior, but I’ve seen an almond color that’s really pretty too! Credit: Erica Mueller for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The interior of the Highlander passes the tall people test

Is it big enough? My husband is 6′ 2″ with a tall torso, so being able to fit in a vehicle and still have headroom is one of our first tests for a car. Our boys will probably end up as tall as he is, or taller, so legroom in the back seats is the second thing to check. The Highlander passed both with flying colors. The interior of this SUV is exceptionally roomy and the fully adjustable mid-row bucket seats allow you to make more legroom room for the third row passengers if needed. Getting in and out of the third row is a breeze thanks to the fold-and-slide  seats. I was able to operate these with one hand which came in handy a few times! My husband took the guys from a workout to lunch one day and they had tall guys in all the seats – even the third row.  Everyone was comfortable.

One of the cool things about the driver’s seat is the easy in/easy out which automatically brings the seat to the lowest position before you exit the vehicle. This keeps the tall guys from hitting their heads, and makes sure us vertically challenged folk don’t have to ‘hop’ to get into the car. Oh yes, and memory seats. How I love memory seats!

The seating arrangement is nothing short of genius. There are three spacious rows, with captain’s chairs in the front and center. The second row has a fold-down console between to allow for setting down a bag or for a small child to walk between the seats. The second row can slide and lean forward all in one movement allowing easy access to the third row which seats three. The second and third rows fold flat, with the third row offering a 40/60 split in case you don’t want to fold the entire seat down. With this arrangement you have the potential for tons of added cargo space. And, there’s plenty of space for everyday use even with the third row up, but we all know that some trips to the garden store or the mall don’t fall into the everyday category.

2016 Toyota Highlander Limited Awd

Seats as many as a minivan, but drives like an SUV! Credit: Erica Mueller for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The Highlander Limited’s exterior has just enough sass

This mid-size SUV segment’s exteriors don’t seem to have changed a whole lot in the past two or three years. Sure, they’re cooler than minivans, and they’re roomier than crossovers, but to me, none of these really stands out as above the crowd. It comes down to what you find most pleasing to the eye. To me the 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited is very classy, with just enough of a sporty edge to suit my fancy. I don’t like plain-Jane; I need a little sass! This SUV doesn’t scream “mom car.” It’s cool enough for a night out on the town, but it’s not afraid to get a little muddy either. Even the color name, Ooh La La Rouge Mica, has a fun ring to it!

What’s included with the Limited edition?

For starters, that gorgeous panoramic moonroof. Then you have a driver technology package which includes a pre-collision system, dynamic radar cruise control, and lane departure alert to provide a safer ride. Automatic high beam headlights turn off when they sense oncoming traffic and back on again after the car passes you. You’ll also get a heated steering wheel, heated second row captains chairs, and rain sensing windshield wipers. Totally worth it!

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The panoramic moonroof comes standard with the Limited edition. Credit: Erica Mueller for AGirlsGuidetoCars

What I loved

  • Three-zone automatic climate control
  • Panoramic moonroof
  • Easy in/easy out
  • Super quiet ride
  • Fun to drive

What you need to know

  • Base price: $30,490; price for the model we drove, with options like panoramic moonroof and advanced safety features, $43,530
  • Fuel economy: 18 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway
  • IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus
  • 5000-lb. towing capacity

Would we buy a Toyota Highlander?

Absolutely. This SUV is now our #1 pick for our next family car. We were so pleased with this vehicle and felt so at home in it. I know some of that has to do with us already being Toyota owners, but it can’t be all that. Toyota did a great job engineering the space and comfort of this vehicle without sacrificing its dashing good looks.

2016 Toyota Highlander Limited Awd Maroney

Disclaimer: Toyota provided the Highlander for my review, but opinions are all my own.

A web developer, digital marketing consultant, auto journalist, truck expert, photographer and lover of gadgets, Erica is a textbook... More about Erica Mueller