2021 Toyota Highlander: Consumer Reports Struggled to Find Drawbacks

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SUVs took over the U.S. auto market years ago already—so much so that you’d be hard pressed to find a family driving anything else. Automakers have responded by building as many of them as possible.
But with so many options out there, which SUV should you buy? The answer depends on what you plan to do with it, but if comfort tops your priority-list, Consumer Reports (CR) says the 2021 Toyota Highlander is an excellent choice.
The 2021 Highlander isn’t perfect. Its third row is best left stowed away to increase cargo space and its fuel efficiency, like most midsize SUVs, won’t blow you away, but its ease of use as a driver and passenger is hard to beat.
A 2021 Toyota Highlander on driving down the road
The Toyota Highlander has always been a fan-favorite.

What makes the 2021 Toyota Highlander such a great SUV?

Toyota knows how to build SUVs. They’ve been doing it since the first Land Cruiser hit the road in 1955. The 2021 Highlander does that pedigree proud.
In their road test of the model, CR found little to complain about. The new Highlander’s ride, controls, and comfort for the first and second rows earned the SUV an “A” from the consumer watchdog.
Not every aspect of the Highlander got stellar marks. Access and comfort of the third row is apparently poor.
Fuel economy could also be better, especially for city driving, but Toyota solves that problem by offering a hybrid powertrain option. All in all, these critiques won’t interfere with the lives of most families.
Although it received high praise, the 2021 Toyota Highlander didn’t take the year’s top spot in its segment from CR. That honor went to the Kia Telluride.
The Korean rival to the Highlander won a nearly impossible 96 points from the buyer’s resource, thanks primarily to its driving performance and impressive list of standard features. The only test the Highlander scored higher on was fuel efficiency—and only by a single mile.
The Hyundai Palisade also received favorable reviews, though its marks were closer to the Highlander’s than the Telluride’s. In fact, factoring out minor discrepancies on noise and gearbox performance, the Palisade and Highlander earned identical ratings, both garnering 84 points overall.

The cost of owning midsize SUV

Whether you choose a Toyota Highlander or a Kia Telluride, the cost of owning a midsize SUV is lower than you might expect.
Other than the obviously higher than average fuel costs, midsize SUVs hold onto their value better than the average vehicle, especially if you buy from a reliable brand like Toyota. Depending on your driving record and where you live, you can also find cheap car insurance for these family-focused vehicles.
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