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A red and white 2019 Toyota Highlander for sale are shown parked near a lake.

Buyer’s Guide: Finding The Perfect Used Toyota Highlander

Buying or leasing a brand new car isn’t always in the cards for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a used vehicle that meets all of your criteria while fitting perfectly into your budget. Today’s automotive market provides plenty of opportunities to snag an amazing car and an amazing deal, all in one. The used market offers vehicles that are packed with performance, technology, and safety features that are contemporary, yet affordable. There are countless ways to find the perfect vehicle that matches your criteria, while saving thousands off the MSRP of a new car. Skip the steep depreciation curve and find yourself a used model that you’ll love for years to come.

Toyota is a breeding ground for quality vehicles that last and last well beyond those of many competitors. Toyotas are engineered to the highest standards, making them an ideal candidate to purchase used. There is no shortage of stories told by Toyota drivers of their vehicles racking up impressive numbers on the odometer, lasting on the road for a decade or more. If you’re looking for a used SUV that packs a lot of punch and practicality, the Toyota Highlander is an excellent option. The Highlander is undeniably comfortable, comes with convenient features that make commuting easier, and offers plenty of performance for daily driving or long, weekend road trips. When you make the decision to invest in a used Toyota Highlander for sale, you make the decision to have a quality SUV that will get you to where you need to go.

What Should You Know About the Highlander

The Highlander is a mid-size SUV that is perfect for individuals and families alike. It offers nearly a dozen different trim levels, along with a hybrid and non-hybrid powertrain. While the SUV market can feel oversaturated at times, the Highlander is a fresh take on a vehicle that offers versatility and style around every corner. It comes in front-wheel or all-wheel drive, making it an option for those looking for a vehicle that can deliver power to both axles in tricky terrain like mud and snow. The Highlander has plenty of entertainment tech to keep you and your passengers connected, even when you’re on the go. Perfect for transporting people and cargo, the Highlander has plenty of cargo space in the rear row and trunk. There are numerous safety and driver assistance features that deliver confidence. Because it’s a Toyota, you know you’re getting behind the wheel of a vehicle that will be cost-effective to operate and maintain. Toyota builds dependable vehicles that you can count on, and the Highlander is no exception.

What’s Offered in Different Model Years

When you’re shopping used, the model year you look for might depend on your desire for certain features, your need to stay within a certain budget, or both. Familiarizing yourself with what certain years have to offer will help narrow down your prospects, making it far less overwhelming to shop for your next car. The Toyota Highlander has been around since 2001, so there are over twenty years of the Highlander to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the key features that certain years have to offer. That way, you can get a better idea about which Highlander is right for you.


When the Highlander first came on the scene it was much smaller than its current counterpart. Originally a five-seater based on the Toyota Camry, the first generation of the Highlander was built to drive like a car. It was available with an I4 or V6 engine, with the option for front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Toyota quickly realized that more seating would draw more customers, so in 2004 they added a third row seat, extending the available seating to seven passengers. In 2006 Toyota released a hybrid version of the Highlander to save their customers money on gas.


By 2008, Toyota decided to redesign some major components of the Highlander. Now offering seating for seven on every trim, they refreshed the chassis to be more like that of the Toyota Avalon. The third row became split-folding and more functional. They originally released the 2008 Highlander with a 3.5L V6 engine with an output of 270 horsepower. Similar to the previous generation, it came with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. However, Toyota didn’t offer a four-cylinder engine anymore. Another big shift occurred in 2011 when Toyota fully reimagined the exterior styling, ushering in a refreshing, new look that drew in new customers.

A silver 2017 Toyota Highlander is shown driving on a road.


The 2014-2019 models years of the Toyota Highlander are the sweet spot. These models are under ten years old and can still be found with fairly low mileage and upgraded features. In 2014, Toyota added more cargo space and added the capacity to comfortably fit up to eight people. The front end got a full makeover that includes a sporty looking grille and clean lines.

In 2016, Toyota made the towing package standard for the V6. From 2016 on, the maximum towing capacity is an impressive 5,000 lbs. They improved the materials used inside the cabin, creating a more upscale feeling interior. Plus, the 2018 powertrain includes a stronger 3.5L V6 than the previous generation, this time with an output of 295 horsepower. The hybrid version has an output of 305 horsepower. The 2018 Highlander is also stacked with safety features, and earned a five-star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).


If you’re flexible on price and want a Certified Pre-Owned Highlander, look for one that was released in 2020 or later. These are going to be your most tech-forward models, and will most likely be available with all of the extended warranty programs Toyota has to offer. These model years offer a gas-powered and hybrid powertrain, with the hybrid in a four-cylinder setup. The hybrid offers a generous EPA estimated 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, making it very efficient for its class.

Toyota found a way to make the interior more quiet from outside noise than previous models. In 2021, Toyota added the XSE trim to the Highlander lineup, giving customers a choice for a more athletic looking SUV. This trim comes with a larger and lower air intake, sleeker headlights that sit at a sharp angle, and a chrome dual-tip exhaust. It offers performance-tuned steering and suspension paired with the 3.5L V6.

A silver 2021 Toyota Highlander is shown driving from the rear.

Used Highlander for the Win

While the idea of buying used hasn’t always been everyone’s first choice, finding a vehicle as reliable and capable as the Toyota Highlander takes the stress out of the process. Whether it’s a recent model year or something a bit older, Toyota has integrated quality parts and design into every Highlander they’ve built. With its roomy interior and functionality, it makes an excellent addition to any family. Toyota was very early on delivering hybrid powertrains to customers, ahead of most of their competitors. This gave Toyota the leg up by offering an option that saves customers money in more ways than one. If you’re looking for a quality used vehicle, you don’t have to look further than the Toyota Highlander.