The 2015 Toyota Highlander has won the AJAC award for the Best New SUV/CUV in the$35,000-$60,000 range.
Redesigned for 2015, this family friendly mid-size SUV is aimed at families with an active lifestyle . The latest revision sees, increased versatility, new technology and a better driving experience.
The redesigned Highlander seems larger on the inside thanks to more third row passenger hip room, and a 34% increase in cargo volume.
Coupled with the optional automatic tailgate, the new Highlander offers up a much more useful space.
Adding to the on road feel of this SUV, is the car based chassis.
For 2015, this has been reworked to improve stiffness, add an increase in body rigidity, and the net result is better control and more enjoyable drives.
The exact model that has won the AJAC award is the 8-passenger, XLE grade with all-wheel-drive and Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control, Downhill Assist Control and Hill-start Assist Control systems.
The Highlander XLE carries a hefty $40,195 MSRP, the Base LE starts at $31,975. U.S. pricing: LE $30,695/ XLE $37,125
The XLE grade features: a navigation system; smart key; a 6-speaker audio system with an 8” touch screen, voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, integrated XM Satellite Radio; a dashboard shelf designed to hold personal electronics ; leather seating; heated front seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
For parents, the Easy Speak system, allows the driver and front passenger to talk at unruly children, or cantankerous seniors, in the rear of the vehicle, by way of a microphone and the rear speakers.
Other nice features available for 2015 include: a power moon roof; three-zone independent automatic climate control; flip-up glass hatch on the power rear door; a larger, full-colour multi-information display.
The Toyota Highlander is available with three engine layouts.
For Americans, the base engine is a 2.7L 4 cylinder that makes 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque and offers fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg city/25 mpg highway.
In Canada, the base 3.5L V6 DOHC provides 270 hp and 248 lb ft of torque, and is estimated to return 12.5 L/100km (23 mpg) city and 9.3 L/100km(30 mpg) highway in FWD; AWD is rated at 13 L/100km (22 mpg) city and 9.8 L/100km (29 mpg) highway.
The third option is a 3.5L V6 mated to a hybrid system for a total of 280 hp. Available in FWD or AWD; this drivetrain could offer better than 8.6 L/100km (33mpg).
(Please note that in the U.S. the Highlander is available with all mentioned engines, Canada will not see the 4 cyl.)
The 2015 Toyota Highlander offers up plenty of utility, in a versatile package, and comes in enough flavours to satisfy nearly any customer.