Toyota Highlander Years To Avoid: Here Are The Best & Worst Years

Knowing what kind of performance to anticipate from each model year is crucial to purchase a Toyota Highlander. Toyota is a solid manufacturer, and Highlanders are a popular and sturdy SUV, but that doesn’t mean that every year was a good year for Highlanders.

If you want to be sure you get a dependable car that will endure through years of regular use, you must be aware of the Toyota Highlander years to stay away from.

Best Years for Toyota Highlander


The upgraded cargo systems and roomy cabins were also carried over to the 2020 model. In contrast to other models, the 2020 Toyota Highlander offers numerous new technological advancements across its five trim levels.

For a smooth and effective drive on highways and city streets, Toyota modified the engine to include a dual-engine system that could provide up to 295 horsepower.


The 2021 model of this well-liked car is one of the more recent iterations, and it features a more robust V6 engine that makes for incredibly smooth driving. The vehicle’s current software improvements illustrate how keen the manufacturer is to compete in the rapidly advancing digital economy.

2021 Toyota Highlander SUV exterior shown.


The great space that the Toyota Highlander has come to be known for was first introduced in the 2017 model year. The SUV sports a roomy eight-seat interior, a strong V6 engine, and disruptive software technology that offers a whole new driving and passenger experience.


Regarding quality and safety, the Toyota Highlander’s 2018 model was unmatched among its rivals for the same year. It had a high-quality cabin, and the engine and transmission were excellent. It also had automated emergency braking safety systems, which would be particularly useful for drivers who encountered challenging road conditions.


With three rows and space for eight people, the 2019 Toyota Highlander prefers spaciousness, which shouldn’t be surprising. Because the 2017 model pioneered in this area and the 2019 model has practically perfected, the premium inside has become a standard.

2019 Toyota Highlander SE 4dr SUV interior.

More freight capacity is possible because of the extra storage space. This variant is also incredibly comfy thanks to the driver’s power-adjustable cushion seats.

Toyota Highlander Years to Avoid


One of the worst SUV models ever is the Toyota Highlander from 2003. The vehicle’s numerous interior issues, extensive fuel usage and oil leakage, engine whirring and popping, and other issues were only the tip of the iceberg.

This Toyota Highlander model is among the worst ever due to additional difficulties like braking failures, coolant issues, and paint problems.


The biggest issue with the Toyota Highlander model from 2005 was excessive oil leaks. The cost of routine oil changes for owners of this model would be much higher than for owners of other models. Also, this causes sludge to accumulate in the engine, which may result in transmission issues further down the line.


According to many users, the 2008 Toyota Highlander’s engine light would occasionally illuminate despite regular engine maintenance. This would later be determined to result from the malfunctioning of the vehicle’s oxygen sensor.

Auto mechanic fixing broken car engine.

Although it isn’t necessary for the automobile to function correctly, its failure indicates a severe engine problem that may cause it to entirely misfire and require replacement, which is expensive for the owners.


In addition to severe oil leaks, the 2012 Toyota Highlander also had steering lock problems. Even though the oil leak was not as powerful as it had been in previous years, the car’s imbalance caused steering problems that could have been fatal for the driver.

The cargo capacity of earlier models could have been more generous. Here you can view the cargo capacity for all Toyota Highlanders.


The 2013 model’s ongoing transmission, heating, and air conditioning issues carried over to the 2014 version. Given how quickly manufacturers address problems from year to year, this is often an uncommon occurrence.

However, the 2014 model did not experience this. Moreover, this version’s interior was poorly built and lacked an effective entertainment system; as a result, the drivers and passengers complained of back aches.

Which Toyota Highlander Generation Should You Buy?

A man getting inside a Toyota Highlander.

1st Generation: 2000—2006

The Toyota Highlander’s 3.0L engine allowed it to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds on its initial release. By the end of the generation, the Highlander could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds thanks to a larger, more powerful V6 engine. Cutting a second in half is significant and indicates a far more potent engine.

2nd Generation: 2007—2012

The Toyota Highlander’s second version provided owners with a roomy 5-passenger interior with a 4-cylinder, six-speed automated powertrain. It was able to produce 187lbft of torque at 5,800 rpm. Compared to the previous model’s 19/30mpg city/highway fuel economy, the Toyota Highlander’s current generation achieves 24/32mpg city/highway.

3rd Generation: 2013—2018

The second-generation Toyota Highlander has brand-new eight-passenger seating with a sliding second row that increases the opening by 4.3 inches. A lane-departure warning system, pre-collision warning, and blind spot monitoring systems were among the other technical elements that significantly increased the car’s overall safety.

A 6.1-inch touchscreen compatible with JBL speakers was also part of the interior infotainment system, providing everyone in the vehicle with excellent surround sound. The 3.5L, six-speed automatic engine was no joke and was included with the car.

4th Generation: 2019—Present

The current Toyota Highlander is the largest of all generations because of more cargo space behind the third passenger row. The latest model also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing users to connect Bluetooth devices for an improved driving experience.

Five trim levels are available for this vehicle, with Platinum being the most expensive.

What Year Is The Most Reliable Toyota Highlander?

The 2020 Highlander is the most dependable model since it fixes the flaws of the previous generation while serving as the middle vehicle of the most advanced and technically secure age.

What Are The Most Common Problems With Toyota Highlanders?

Certified mechanic inspecting under the hood.

Check-engine indicator

It could be simple to break the hose during an air filter replacement after going for repairs. As a result, the check engine light can come on, signaling that a hose is disconnected.

Oil spills and a drop in oil pressure

The oil leaking on Toyota Highlanders can be rather severe. Low oil pressure problems may result from oil lines rupturing while the vehicle is in motion. It is necessary to replace a damaged oil line, which is frequently pricey.

Airbag detector

When there is a problem with the airbag sensor, the airbag malfunction light may illuminate excessively. This could also raise safety concerns for car components other than the airbag.

How Many Miles Will A Toyota Highlander Last?

The average lifespan of a Toyota Highlander is 300,000 miles before it needs to be replaced or improved. This is on the higher side of the class and illustrates why the Highlander is a force to be reckoned with.

What Are The Closest Competitors To The Toyota Highlander?

The closest competitors are Kia Telluride, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Hyundai Palisade.


Toyota’s most well-known and well-liked vehicle is the Toyota Highlander, a mid-sized crossover SUV that the Japanese automaker Toyota released in 2000.

Up to the release of the Toyota RAV4 in 2006, it was Toyota’s best-selling SUV. Nonetheless, it has gone through four rounds of evolution and has been incredibly successful in its own right.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!