Toyota Highlander Years to Avoid: There Are Less Than You Think

Serena Aburahma
· 4 min read
Toyota's Highlander has been around since 2001 and it’s been the company's answer to the Ford Explorer. The Highlander is a midsize crossover that comes in 4-door versions and is one of the most popular SUVs in the United States.
Although the
2021 Highlander is highly regarded
, like every other automaker, Toyota produced some below quality versions that owners regret buying. Here are the
Highlander years to avoid, according to
Toyota is known for having reliable vehicles, and their SUVs are some of the most popular. But every company has a few products that just don’t meet the standards.

Which Toyota Highlander year has the most reported complaints?

Generally, Toyota makes quality vehicles, and the Highlander is certainly in that category. However, with the most reported complaints, it’s clear that the 2015 model wasn't that great.
One of the biggest issues reported is regarding the front seats. Most drivers feel that despite the Highlander's handling capabilities, the front seats were so uncomfortable that they caused backaches, even on short rides.
Another commonly reported complaint from drivers was wind noise. This problem is particularly noticeable when driving at speeds above 25 mph. After too many complaints, the automaker realized that the noise problem comes from the oversized side mirror.
The navigation system was one of the next most complained about features because it would randomly freeze up and reboot. After coming back on it would go to its default settings, resetting the maps and personal preferences. This could be an issue on a long drive or trip.
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The 2003 Toyota Highlander is one you want to avoid

Another Toyota Highlander you should avoid is the 2003 model. It may not have as many complaints as the 2015 model, but its issues were more serious and were too expensive to repair.
The biggest problem reported by drivers is the engine. This model was the first of Toyota's midsize SUVs, but it wasn't as refined as other automaker midsize SUVs. After driving for about 125,000 miles, the Highlander started to develop coolant leaks.
The engine flaws continue as the engine would give way to the block bolts, and the failure of those bolts would cause heat cracks in the engine. After inspections, the engine threads would get stripped.
With such issues, mechanics would refuse to take on the repairs forcing the drivers to buy new engines. One driver reported that it took him seven months to find a mechanic willing to fix the problem. He ended up paying for a new motor and installation labor totaling $15,000.
Another issue from this vehicle model year is the brakes. Drivers reported that the vehicle's brakes started to squeak after a while. The brake pads wore out, and the rotors warped out too fast. Because of these problems, the vehicle began to skip when taking turns.
There were four crash injury cases reported to the NHTSA relating to the brakes. Repairing these breaks would cost between $500 and $600.

Even though you should avoid certain years, the Toyota Highlander is worth considering

Despite these two models that drivers didn't like, the Highlander has been a well-liked vehicle. The 2015 model may not be an excellent incarnation of the Toyota Highlander, but the 2003 model is probably one you want to avoid.
Overall, it's a decent SUV, and many drivers said they would consider the Highlander for another car. If you are shopping for these cars, look for the model years with fewer complaints such as the 2017 and 2018 models.
These two years had the least complaints compared to other Highlander model years. While you’re checking out those rides, you can get great coverage for your car and save money.
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