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Toyota Highlander
Second generation Toyota Highlander
Manufacturer Toyota Motor Corporation
Also called Toyota Kluger
Production 2000–present
Class Mid-size crossover SUV
Body style(s) 4-door SUV
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive / all-wheel drive

The Toyota Highlander (トヨタ クルーガー), also called Toyota Kluger in Japan and Australia, is a midsize crossover SUV.

It was announced in April 2000 at the New York Auto Show and arrived in late 2000 in Japan and in January 2001 in North America, the Highlander became the first car-based midsize SUV or midsize crossover.[1] The Highlander is the crossover counterpart to the more rugged truck-based midsize 4Runner and had become Toyota's best-selling SUV until the smaller RAV4 outsold it in 2006.

Toyota could not use the "Highlander" name in Australia and Japan, since it is a trademarked trim line of the Hyundai Terracan SUV.


First generation (ACU2#W/MCU2#W, 2001-2007)

First generation
2001-2003 Toyota Highlander Base
Production 2000–2007
Model year(s) 2001–2007
Assembly Kyūshū, Japan
Engine(s) 2.4 L 2AZ-FE I4
3.0 L 1MZ-FE V6
3.3 L 3MZ-FE V6
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic w/3.3L
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 106.9 in (2715 mm)
Length 2001: 184.3 in
2002-03: 184.4 in (4684 mm)
2004-07: 184.6 in (4689 mm)
Hybrid: 185.6 in (4714 mm)
Width 71.9 in (1826 mm)
Height 2001-05 4WD: 66.5 in (1689 mm)
2001-05 Limited 4WD: 68.7 in (1745 mm)
2003-05 FWD: 66.1 in (1679 mm)
2003-05 Limited FWD: 68.3 in (1735 mm)
2006-07 FWD: 67.9 in (1725 mm)
2006-07 4WD & FWD Hybrid: 68.3 in (1735 mm)
4WD Hybrid: 68.9 in (1750 mm)
Curb weight 3,784 lb (1,716 kg)
Fuel capacity 19.2 US gallons (72.7 L; 16.0 imp gal)
Related Lexus RX
Toyota Sienna
Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry Solara
Lexus ES
Toyota Windom
Toyota Avalon
Under the hood of a 2005 Highlander

Called the Kluger in Japan and Australia, the Highlander shared the Toyota Camry platform with its Lexus RX/Toyota Harrier cousin and came in five and seven-seat configurations, and became a sales success for Toyota in a number of markets across the world. The Highlander came standard with front wheel drive and offered all wheel drive (50:50 front:rear fixed torque split). Unlike Toyota's own 4Runner and other midsized competitors such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, or Chevrolet TrailBlazer, the Highlander aimed for on-road comfort with its unit body construction and independent rear suspension. Although it was originally longer than the 1996-2002 4Runner, the Highlander was surpassed in length by the redesigned 4Runner in 2003.

The Highlander was available in three trim lines in the United States: the Base model, the Sport model, and the Limited model. The Base and Limited models were present when the Highlander was initially introduced, while the Sport model was introduced in March 2006.

In 2004 the wheels on the Limited trim changed from a 6-spoke, to a 5-spoke alloy. The base-model Highlander rims also changed from steel-rims to the alloy rims that were on the 01-03 Highlander Limited and B-Package. The Sport models had a distinctive grille design, differentiating themselves from the non-Sport models. Wheel styling also serves to differentiate the various models—the hybrid sports a unique twin-spoke design.

The Kluger was introduced to Australia during 2003. It was available in three guises: the CV model, the CVX model, and the Grande model. A limited edition CV Sport model was also released in 2006. There was no hybrid model available in Australia. The only engine offered was the 3.3L 3MZ-FE V6.

2004-2007 Toyota Highlander Limited


  • 2001-2003 2.4 L 2AZ-FE I4, 160 hp (119 kW)
  • 2001-2003 3.0 L 1MZ-FE V6, 220 hp (164 kW)
  • 2004-2007 3.3 L 3MZ-FE V6, 230 hp (172 kW)

The 3.0-liter engine was able to propel the Kluger from 0-60 mph in approximately 8.8 seconds. In 2004 the Kluger was given a new 3.3-liter V6 engine to compete with the more powerful V6 offerings from its competitors, mainly the Nissan Murano and the Honda Pilot. The larger engine made it possible for the Kluger to reach 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.8 seconds.


Model year changes

In addition to the 3.3L engine, 2004 V6-powered models were equipped with a new 5-speed automatic transmission, replacing a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the 4-cylinder models continued to use the old 4-speed automatic transmission. This year also saw the introduction of the optional third row seat allowing for two additional passengers. The unibody was slightly modified behind the second row seats to include a depression in the trunk floor able to accommodate the optional third row seating. On models without third row seating, this depression was turned into a storage compartment. (Prior to 2004 the spare tire was accessible from inside the vehicle where the third row seating would subsequently be located; beginning in 2004 the spare tire is accessible from underneath the vehicle.) Subtle changes to the front grille, front and rear bumpers, and headlights round-out the major changes for the 2004 mid-cycle refresh.

Beginning in 2006, Highlanders sold in Canada are offered only in a V6 all-wheel drive configuration. Hybrid models are available with part-time four-wheel drive which Toyota refers to as "4WD-i" where the rear wheels are powered by the separate electric motor.

Base models are equipped with a limited slip differential, while up-scale models have a stability control system.

The Japanese Kluger was released with a centre console integrated with the dashboard, while the North American Highlander initially lacked this integrated centre console. The integrated centre console was introduced in all U.S. Highlanders and in Canadian Limited Highlanders in the 2002 model year, and in all Canadian Highlanders in the 2003 model year. However, for these early Highlanders without the integrated centre console, a smaller non-integrated stand-alone centre console was available as an option, which was installed at the factory or could be installed by the dealer.

Typical fuel economy using the Australian standard testing regime is 12.3 L/100 km (23.0 mpg-imp; 19.1 mpg-US).

Safety/crash testing

Anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution were standard, Vehicle Stability Control w/traction control optional on 2001-03 models became standard for 2004 models (Hybrids come standard with VDIM). Also standard for 2004 was a tire pressure monitor. Front seat-mounted side torso airbags were optional on 2001-06 models, while front and second row side curtain airbags were optional on 2004-06 models. Side airbags became standard on 2007 models and the curtain airbags gained a rollover sensor that year as well.

NHTSA crash test ratings, no side airbags (2002):[2]
Frontal Driver: 4/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 4/5 stars
Side Driver: 4/5 stars
Side Rear Passenger: 5/5 stars
Rollover: 3/5 stars
NHTSA crash test ratings, no side airbags (2004):[3]
Frontal Driver: 5/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 5/5 stars
Side Driver: 5/5 stars
Side Rear Passenger: 5/5 stars
Rollover (2005):[4] 4/5 stars

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests the Highlander was rated "Good" overall in the frontal offset crash test.[5] The IIHS reported the Highlander had one of the lowest fatality rates among all vehicles, only the 4Runner had a lower SUV fatality rate. This report looked at 2001-05 model year vehicles.[6]

Hybrid (MHU28, 2005-2007)

Highlander Hybrid Limited

Initially, the Kluger was a regular, non-hybrid SUV driven by an internal combustion engine, but later Toyota introduced a hybrid version, the Kluger Hybrid that utilizes the company's Hybrid Synergy Drive technology combined with the company's 3MZ-FE 3.3-liter V6 engine offered in either FWD or AWD trim. The hybrid drivetrain was unveiled at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, and was offered to the public in July 2005 as a 2006 model. The alternator, power steering pump, water pump and AC compressor were no longer belt-driven accessories rather powered by electricity, except the alternator which is incorporated into the hybrid system.

In North America, the hybrid version was called the Highlander Hybrid. It was also the first seven-seat hybrid vehicle. With the electric motors providing power including lower speeds overall acceleration is improved particularity at passing speeds. Other additions include Toyota's Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system and Electronically Controlled Brake (ECB). The California Air Resources Board gave it a SULEV emission rating. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (revised standards) rated it at 28 mpg-US (8.4 L/100 km; 34 mpg-imp) City/25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp) Highway for FWD models and 27 mpg-US (8.7 L/100 km; 32 mpg-imp)/25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp) for AWD models. This system is near identical to that of the Lexus RX 400h. All-wheel drive models were rated to tow 3,500 lb (1,600 kg).

Second generation (ASU40/GSU4#/MHU48, 2007-present)

Second generation
Toyota Kluger, Australian Grande FWD
Also called Guangzhou-Toyota Highlander (PRC)
Production 2007-present
Model year(s) 2008–present
Assembly Guangzhou, China[7]
Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
Princeton, Indiana, United States (TMMI Oct 2009-present, North America only)
Engine(s) 2.7 L 1AR-FE I4
3.5 L 2GR-FE V6
3.3 L 3MZ-FE V6 (hybrid)
Transmission(s) 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 109.8 in (2789 mm)
Length 188.4 in (4785 mm)
Width 75.2 in (1910 mm)
Height 69.3 in (1760 mm)
Curb weight 4,045 lb (1,835 kg)
Related Lexus RX
Toyota Sienna
Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry Solara

Toyota revealed the second-generation Highlander and Highlander Hybrid at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, with American sales beginning in July and hybrids in late September.[8][9] But the second-generation Highlander and Highlander Hybrid are not sold in Japan. The sole powertrain in the 2008 Highlander is a 270 horsepower (201 kW) 3.5-liter 2GR-FE V6 mated to a five-speed automatic. The four-cylinder model had been discontinued but added again in 2009. While the 3.5-liter engine has 55 more bhp than the previous 3.3-liter V6 and dimensional increases along with increased sound proofing added nearly 500 pounds to the vehicle's curb weight of approximately 4,000 lbs, fuel economy is slightly improved. The EPA estimated fuel economy for front-wheel drive models is at 18 mpg-US (13 L/100 km; 22 mpg-imp) city / 24 mpg-US (9.8 L/100 km; 29 mpg-imp) highway (last gen: 17 mpg-US (14 L/100 km; 20 mpg-imp) city / 23 mpg-US (10 L/100 km; 28 mpg-imp) hwy).[10]

The same three trim levels were offered (Base, Sport, and Limited) until early 2010 when the SE model replaced the Sport model. and buyers are still able to choose between front-drive or all-wheel drive. Also new is an Electric Power Steering (EPS) system. Sport and Limited models get a standard backup camera using a 3.5-inch LCD display. Major options include leather seats, heated seats, a touch-screen DVD based navigation system, a new Smart Key System, an upgraded JBL Synthesis stereo, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with 9-inch screen, and a towing package that increases towing capacity to 5000 pounds.

Currently, the Highlander/Kluger is produced in Japan for global markets. Toyota had intended on building the Highlander in Blue Springs, Mississippi for the North American market in the 2011 model year.[11] However, the Prius will be built there instead, and the Highlander is beingbuilt at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton, Indiana, from the 2010 model year onward for a majority of the North America, replacing Tundra production.[12] At this time, no decision has been made on Highlander Hybrid production at TMMI. TMMI Highlander production began in October 2009.

In Australia, the new generation Kluger was launched in August, 2007. There are three grades available, KX-R, KX-S and Grande. All grades are available with either 2WD or AWD. The base model KX-R is also available with either five or seven seats, whilst the latter grades are seven seaters only. Specifications are mostly similar to the US Highlander, sharing the same 3.5 litre V6 2GR-FE engine and five-speed automatic transmission. However, there are no plans at present to introduce a hybrid version of the Kluger into the Australian market.

Safety/crash testing

All models come standard with enhanced Vehicle Stability Control which immediately alters electric powering steering assist w/traction control (hybrids come standard with VDIM), anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution. Also standard is a tire pressure monitor, a driver's knee airbag, front seat-mounted side torso airbags, side curtain airbags for all three rows which includes a rollover sensor and active front headrests. Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) is also standard which prevents rolling backwards on slopes, and Downhill Assist Control (DAC) is standard on AWD trims.

NHTSA crash test ratings (2008):[13]
Frontal Driver: 5/5 stars
Frontal Passenger: 4/5 stars
Side Driver: 5/5 stars
Side Rear Passenger: 5/5 stars
Rollover: 4/5 stars

The IIHS rates the Highlander "Good" overall in their frontal offset crash test.[14] And "Good" overall in the side impact crash test, with "Good" rating in all nine measured categories.[15]

In ANCAP testing the Klueger is given a 5/5 stars rating but only a 1/4 stars rating for pedestrian protection.[16]

2009 models

For 2009, Toyota again offered a 4-cylinder for front-wheel drive models with the all-new ULEV-II certified 2.7-liter 1AR-FE I4 paired to a six-speed automatic. It generates 187 hp (139 kW) at 5,800 rpm and 186 ft·lbf (252 N·m) of peak torque at 4,100 rpm on regular 87 octane fuel. The four-cylinder delivers an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg-US (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg-imp) city and 27 mpg-US (8.7 L/100 km; 32 mpg-imp) highway.[17] This is better than the previous model's four cylinder with 19 mpg-US (12 L/100 km; 23 mpg-imp)/25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp). Toyota will begin building Highlanders at the Indiana plant (TMMI) in late 2009.


Second generation Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited

The Kluger Hybrid features Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive which continues to allow an electric only powered mode for short distances and speeds. Weight and cost have been improved over the previous hybrid.[18][19]

The expanded size and new features have led to an increase of 500 pounds to its curb weight. All Highlander Hybrids are all-wheel drive, and the EPA has rated the hybrid at 27 mpg-US (8.7 L/100 km; 32 mpg-imp) city/25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp) highway,[20] same as the previous model. The Highlander's fuel economy, while better than the Lexus RX 400h's, lags behind the compact 4cyl Ford Escape Hybrid and latest RX 450h, but still produces significantly fewer emissions than the non hybrid version with a CARB SULEV rating.

The Highland Hybrid continues to use the same 3.3-liter 3MZ-FE V6 (208 hp) from the prior model, net power is 270 hp (201 kW). VDIM and Electronically Controlled Brake remain new features include a driver selectable electric only EV mode (when possible) and another ECON mode which restricts acceleration and minimizes air conditioning during acceleration.

Highlander FCHV (2007-)

It was a test vehicle using compressed hydrogen gas, with average fuel economy of 68.3 miles/kg (approximate mpg equivalent).[21]

The vehicle was unveiled in 2007 LA motor show.[22]

Chinese version

Chinese version of Highlander (ASU40/GSU45) was unveiled in 13th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition.[23]

Highlander Slope

Highlander Slope is a dirt slope with about 15 degree slope located in Wenzhou, China.


It was built in its Kyūshū, Japan assembly plant and its Ikeda, Osaka, Japan assembly plant beginning in 2007-05.

GAC Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. (GTMC) in Nansha District, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China began to produce Toyota Highlander in 2009-05-25.[24]


Calendar year US sales
2000[25] n/a
2001 86,699
2002[26] 113,134
2003 120,174
2004[27] 133,077
2005 137,409
2006[28] 129,794
2007 127,878
2008[29] 104,661
2009 83,118[30]

See also


  1. ^ " Toyota Highlander Mid-Size Car-Based SUV Premiers At 2000 New York Auto Show", Toyota/Lexus/Scion Pressroom, April 19, 2000
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  5. ^ "IIHS-HLDI: Toyota Highlander". 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ official Website of the Guangqi Toyota Automobile Company
  8. ^ "2008 Toyota Highlander". 
  9. ^ "2008 Toyota Highlander - Auto Shows". Car & Driver. Retrieved February 7, 2007. 
  10. ^ "2008 Toyota Highlander Specs". JB car pages. Retrieved July 17, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Toyota Will Build Highlander at New Mississippi Plant". Retrieved February 27, 2007. 
  12. ^ "Toyota To Build Prius In U.S: Highlander to Indiana; all Tundra to Texas". Toyota/Lexus/Scion Pressroom. Retrieved July 13, 2008. 
  13. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  14. ^ "IIHS-HLDI: Toyota Highlander". 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  15. ^ "IIHS-HLDI: Toyota Highlander". 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  16. ^ "Vehicle Crash Report". ANCAP. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  17. ^ "Toyota Vehicles : Coming Soon - All-New Four Cylinder Engine For 2009 Toyota Highlander / Toyota". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  18. ^ "Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, now with EV ONLY mode!". AutoblogGreen. 
  19. ^ "2008 Toyota Highlander and Hybrid Review". JB car pages. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  20. ^ "2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Specs". JB car pages. Retrieved July 17, 2008. 
  21. ^ Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid achieves over 68 MPG on Hydrogen
  22. ^ LA 2007: Toyota Fuel Cell Highlander runs 2300 miles from Fairbanks to Vancouver
  23. ^ China-made RAV4, Highlander to Debut in Shanghai
  24. ^ Production of Toyota 'Highlander' Begins in China
  25. ^ "Toyota Sets Sales Record for Sixth Year in a Row". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  26. ^ "Toyota Announces Best Sales Year in Its 46-Year History, Breaks Sales Record for Eighth Year in a Row". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  27. ^ "Toyota Reports 2005 and December Sales". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  28. ^ "Toyota Reports 2007 and December Sales". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  29. ^ "Toyota Reports 2008 and December Sales". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  30. ^ "Toyota Reports December And 2009 Sales". Retrieved 2010-01-27. 

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