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Review of the family cross-over Toyota Highlander III (U50)

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Toyota cars enjoy so much authority in Russia that almost any of its models should be sold perfectly by default. The last generation of Highlander is good of course, even without taking into account the membership of the famous Japanese brand. The machine has many advantages and few disadvantages. This big car will fit perfectly into the same big family.

For a very long time Highlander was little known in the Russian Federation, when compared to the RAV4 or legendary Land Cruise, which knows almost any motorist. This model, built on the basis of Camry, officially came to Russia only in 2010 in the form of an updated second generation. Given the practicality of this machine, “grey” dealers had this situation in their hands – they brought Highlander from North America and very rarely from Japan (there the car is another name).

The third model series of the Toyota Highlander with the U50 index premiered in 2013 in the United States. The car went on sale a year later. Compared to the previous generation, the machine became more comfortable, it was slightly added dynamics and capacity. There is even an eight-seat version of the Highlander 3.

What ‘s changed?

Cabin finishing materials were improved, a 4.2 inch diameter display was added, and an 8 inch touch panel of multimedia and navigation appeared. Some driver assistance systems have been added, which were not available before. The distribution of space inside the salon became more elaborate. The suspension of the car was somewhat modernized, which added to its controllability. Already in the basic version of the machine there is an adaptive cruise and 8 airbags. 3 generation restyling occurred in 2017.

The appearance of the restyling version of the cross-over has not changed much. Only the radiator grille was changed, and a little shape of headlamps and lights. Wheel discs received a new design, but the most important thing added to the line was a 3.5-litre V6 engine for 295 hp and a new 8-automatic gearbox.

Toyota Highlander 3 in Russia

The car gradually began to attract Russian buyers with an excellent cost-to-size ratio, spectacular appearance and a tax-friendly V6 with a capacity of 249 hp. It is no surprise that sales of this car at dealers began to grow. Competing models Ford Explorer, Hendé Santa Fe, and Kia Sorento began to lag behind in sales, slightly better than Hylender ‘s third sold only to Mitsubishi Outlander, but this is due to its more affordable price.

Outside and inside

Compared to the previous version, the new Hylender looks more aggressive and interesting. But in the photos, the car doesn ‘t look as good as life. And, although the size of the machine hardly increased (4890×1925 and 1770 mm in height), somehow externally it seems more than Highlander 2 generation.

In the salon there is a catch, which is not inherent in the Japanese automobile industry. It feels like European designers had a hand in the interior. You can confidently say that of the three generations of Hylender, it looks truly benign. Yes, in the cabin remained imitation of wooden panels, rigid plastic and inserts under aluminium. But now all this is done very qualitatively.

The center of the front panel is made in the form of a sandwich, which made it possible to obtain a long shelf under the climatic installation, on which any mobile device is perfectly located. On it is convenient and charge the gadget – in the shelf there is a neat hole for wires which will go from the cigarette.

Ergonomics and interior are calculated to detail – even on the third row of seats there are a lot of stacks. On the windows of the rear doors there are sun curtains, on each row of seats – a placon of illumination and nozzles of air ducts. In general, for the family the car is ideal.

Salon – very spacious, by this parameter many competitors lose Highlander 3. Its almost one-and-a-half-meter width allows three adults to be conveniently located on the second row of seats. On the third row can also sit three people, but no longer large.

In the Russian Federation, the third row is most often empty, which is why domestic automobiles prefer to fold it, receiving a trunk volume of 813 liters. By the way – in a close parking lot you will not have to fully open the fifth door to throw inside a small bag, you can open only one glass. The luggage door itself has an electric drive. But if you fold the second row, the car can compete in capacity with some vans. Its cargo compartment will be able to accommodate 2.4 cubes.

Engines and transmission

The Toyota Highlander 3 was offered with two engines: a 2.7-litre 1AR-FE engine with four cylinders and 188 hp power and a 3.5-litre V-shaped six 2GR cylinder engine, the power of which was reduced to 249 hp for the Russian Federation (273 forces in the United States). But at the same time the torque, and therefore the dynamics, remained identical.

Toyota 1AR-FE engine

This very large 2.7-litre powerplant was released in 2008 by refining the 2.5-litre 2AR-FE. From him he inherited also characteristic shortcomings.

First of all, these are the noises that the VVTi viscomuft produces (the problem is solved by replacement). The water pump, which serves 50-60 thousand km, has not gone anywhere and leaks. The motor is not repair – disposable. But with high-quality and timely maintenance the engine is capable of leaving more than 300 thousand km.

Toyota 2GR-FKS 3.5 l engine

Among the complaints about the motors of the 2GR series are particularly common:

• Oil leakage through VVTi system branch pipe. The problem is solved by replacement with all-metal.

• Extraneous noises or crack at start-up. It is solved by replacement of VVTi couplings.

• Drop in XX turnovers. It is due to the pollution of the throttle valve, which needs to be cleaned every 50 thousand km.

• Pump leak every 50-60 thousand km of mileage.

But, with proper maintenance, the motor will pass more than 300,000 without a overhaul.

With both engines it offers a six-speed automatic Gearbox (after restyling the automatic Gearbox has 8 gears), operating quickly and intelligently. There is a switch to “Sport” and “Manual” modes.

What is offered to Russian customers

The basic version of the Hylender has quite a rich equipment, among which is the presence of: a three-zone climatic plant, a high-quality audio system with high-frequency speakers, electrical adjustments of the driver ‘s seat, an electric drive of the luggage compartment door and 19-inch casting.

The car is simply “stuffed” with all kinds of heating: the front two rows of seats and the steering wheel will be warm. Perforated leather is used for finishing of seats, the machine has a system of keyless access to the cabin, and 7 airbags. And all this in the “base.” Even if you remove some options the machine will still look attractive. For example, not everyone needs a third row of seats or electrical adjustment of the driver ‘s seat. But there is no full drive in the basic dorestyling version.

Before the 2017 restyling, the base car “Elegans” was only with a 2.7-litre engine. Since 2017, Russian dealers have offered cars exclusively with a 3.5-litre engine and four-wheel drive. The truth and the price became different – earlier for Elegance asked from 1.74 million rubles, after restyling its cost starts from 3.226 million rubles.

The Prestige version will add additional lighting, front seat ventilation, electric adjustment of the front passenger seat, leather upholstery of the seats, heating of the second row seats, steering wheel and wiper areas, navigation, touch-sensitive 8-inch display, front parktronic, near-light headlamps will be LED, and a number of other options. From 3,374,000 rubles.

The top version of “Suite Safety” will add to the above-mentioned package of active safety systems Toyota Safety Sense (lane control, and automatic long-distance beam), audio system JBL with 12 speakers, 4 cameras of round-robin view and other. From 3,524,000 rubles.

For an additional fee, dealers offer to complete the car with thresholds, window deflectors, protective door linings and trunk arcs.

What to choose?

It would seem – the choice is obvious! We need to take a 2.7 engine car. It is both cheaper and consumes less fuel, in acceleration to 100 is inferior to the version with a large engine only 1.7 seconds, and the four-wheel drive in the city is not so necessary.

But in practice, this is far from the case. A machine with a four-cylinder motor on its head below its more powerful six-cylinder assembled. Yes, in the city you will not feel much difference, but when overtaking on the track 188-strong motor will strengthen nerves to the owner.

The controllability of the four-wheel drive version is much better when entering turns. When moving along irregularities, a light monografted car jumps as a saigak, because the suspension is designed for a heavier ICE and a heavy cardan shaft, which is not present.

Summarizing the pros and cons

The undeniable advantages of this car include:

• Wide spacious cabin;

• Metal protection of the crankcase;

• Transformer cabin;

• Large trunk;

• Three-zone climatic plant;

• Luggage door glass can be opened separately;

• Heating of the steering wheel even in the “base”;

• Many security systems;

• Fast 6-АКПП;

• The 4WD differential clutch can be locked by force;

• Excellent sound insulation of the cabin.

Comfort is that will leave no one who drives in this car indifferent.

Among the disadvantages are:

• Weak visibility at the rear;

• The rear-view camera is rapidly dirty;

• Insufficient side seat support;

• Increased fuel appetite;

• Breaks in the front suspension;

• Tight third row.

Also this large and heavy car does not like to be sharply rejected at high speed – a strong vertical rocking of the body begins, and if it is done by a series of presses on the gas pedal, it is possible to notice a significant deterioration of the efficiency of brakes. In general, it is not necessary to be interested in excessively active driving – after all it is more family car than sports.


Toyota created an uncharacteristic car: no medium-quality materials, decent noise insulation, and improved handling compared to previous versions of Hylender. Even the Automatic gearbox which was scolded for slow gear shifts by anyone driving on previous generations of the Highlander, began to work faster. Great car for a big family!

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