Home Reviews 2019 Toyota Highlander AWD not the latest but still plenty good enough

2019 Toyota Highlander AWD not the latest but still plenty good enough


Last month we spent a week rolling around Central Texas in the 2019 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum AWD three-row SUV.  

Our test Highlander came in a sharp Toasted Walnut Pearl color with a Saddle Tan perforated leather interior and dual Captains Chair second row.  Running gear included 19-inch Dark Chromtec Alloy Wheels mounted with 245/55R19 105H rated summer tires.


Though not quite as ‘whistle and bells’ fancy as some more expensive competitors, we found its combination of style and function to be equal to or better than a whole lot of (even full-size) competitors. 

Lots of buyers must agree as Highlander was a top seller in 2018 – moving 244,511 units – second only to the RAV4 in the Toyota SUV lineup. 

More importantly – despite being a bit ‘aged’ according to some – Highlander sales are nearly as strong through July 2019.

Cutting right to the chase – we would park this 2019 Highlander Limited Platinum AWD in our garage. 



2019 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum AWD

The Limited Platinum is the top-trim level with MSRP of $47,010. Fully-fitted out, our test 2019 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum AWD priced at $48,319 delivered. 


The 2019 Highlander is equipped with Toyota’s very robust 3.5L V6 gasoline engine with Stop/Start feature.  And, yes you can turn it off.

Running on 87-octane fuel, it produces 295 horsepower w/ 263 lb.-ft. of torque.  It is mated to a Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission w/sequential shift mode, Rev Management – both Uphill and Downhill – and has a Snow Mode. 

Our Highlander Limited Platinum featured their AWD with Dynamic Torque Control. It drives normally in FWD when cruising.  When turning or in challenging situations, the system switches to AWD for better control.  It automatically distributes torque from 100 percent front to 50/50 front to rear as needed.

With its 8-inch ground clearance, Highlander is able to navigate more challenging terrains when necessary. An AWD LOCK feature will hold the 50/50 FWD/AWD torque split to maximize traction under 25 mph.

Highlander tows too.  The standard tow package on our Limited Platinum handles up to 5,000 pounds.  




The interior of our Highlander Limited Platinum was a well-crafted blend of SUV function and premium styling and treatments.

In particular, the Platinum’s Saddle Brown accented interior shouts premium when you open the door.

Interior finish material choices are premium looking with Soft Touch upper door trims and wood accents, leatherette door armrests plus satin and chrome finishes on door handles.  

Blue ambient lighting highlights the interior of the front and rear doors.

Soft-Touch In-Dash Shelf


Special Note is made of the combination of style and function in the Soft-Touch In-Dash Shelf with its cable management (smartphones) and anti-slide features PLUS Blue LED Ambient Lighting.


Seating up front is leather-trimmed with contrast stitching. Seats are heated and ventilated w/power adjustment driver (8-way) and passenger (4-way).

The very large center console features a premium Soft-Touch roll-top opening, 12V power outlet and removable utility tray to access a huge storage box.

The Highlander Limited Platinum sports heated second-row Captains Chair’s chairs with fold-down side table that allows easy access to the third row.  The second row also features retractable window sunshades. 

Third row seating, sized for smaller people, is a 60/40-fold-flat bench in SofTex with a recline feature.

With lots of different gear shift types being seen, the Highlander still uses a traditional Gated Lever w/leather shift knob and LED Illumination.  The leather-trimmed 3-spoke steering wheel is tilt and telescoping with multimedia and vehicle controls.

The instrument cluster features a 4.2-inch LCD Multi-Information Display (MID), Optitron Instrumentation and Blue Illuminated Speedometer and Tachometer.

The cabin is kept comfortable by its Three-zone Automatic Climate Control with Air Filter. It has a second-row control panel, separate temperature settings for front-row driver, passenger and third-row plus second and third row venting

A family-helpful feature is the ‘Driver Easy Speak’ which broadcasts the drivers voice through the audio speakers to passengers (as needed) in the back.

Other features include eight cup holders, four bottle holders plus front and second row reading lights.

What about gear you say?

There is plenty room in Highlander for both people and gear.  Cargo volume behind third row is a nice 13.8 cubic feet.  Folding down the third row increases cargo space to a very usable 42.0 cubic feet.

Our Highlander Platinum also came with lighting in the cargo area and a tonneau cover.

Special Note:  We loved the unique ‘flip-up’ window on the rear tailgate. It allows easy and quick access to the cargo area without having to open the liftgate.   We liked this especially for quick trips to the store.  In addition to fast and easy, the lower half of the hatch serves as a backstop for sliding grocery bags or other items.

Think of the last time you opened a tailgate and the bag with the eggs or the watermelon came tumbling out.  ‘Nuff said.

Infotainment and Technology

Our Highlander Limited Platinum came with their top-level Entune Premium JBL Audio w/Navigation and Entune App Suite.  The system includes an 8-inch high-resolution touch screen w/split-screen display, CD Player, 12 JBL GreenEdge speakers, subwoofer, amplifier and iPod connectivity.

Features include AM-FM, HD and SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth Wireless with hand-free and music streaming, Siri Eyes Free, Predictive Traffic and Doppler Weather overlay.

But no Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Wi-Fi hotspot – which we didn’t miss, where others might.

Other elements include Smart Key System, Remote Keyless Entry (front doors and liftgate) and illuminated entry. Power sources include two 12V auxiliary power outlets front and center console, one 120V AC power outlet in second row and five USB ports in the front and second rows.



The 2019 Toyota Highlander is a NHTSA 5 Star Safety Pick and has earned a Top Safety Pick rating from IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

All Toyota Highlanders come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS-P) driver assist technology package and the Toyota STAR Safety system which features Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brakes and Electronic Brake Distribution with Brake Assist.

Other safety features on our Highlander Limited Platinum included Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Hill Start Assist, Downhill Assist Control, Rear Park Sensors, Backup Camera with Dynamic Guidelines and Tire Pressure Monitoring. 

We liked the “Sway Warning” alert on the MID (see photo above) – triggered when your driving gets a bit erratic.

Notable also is the Birds Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan that displays live 360-degree views (including Curb View) in both drive and reverse.



2019 Toyota Highlander Lineup

The Toyota Highlander for 2019 comes in six trim levels available in both FWD and AWD.  The base LE V6 starts at MSRP $33,730 (FWD) with the AWD $1,460 more. Check out all the Highlander trim models here: https://www.toyota.com/highlander/

Highlander as a Hybrid too

The 2019 Toyota Highlander also comes as a hybrid. There are four trims LE, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum starting at MSRP $37,320.  All Highlander Hybrids are AWD only. Explore the Toyota Highlander Hybrid further here: https://www.toyota.com/highlanderhybrid/.


Model:                                        Highlander

Trim:                                           Limited Platinum

Class:                                          Mid-Size

Segment:                                   Crossover SUV

Seating:                                      7  (Captain’s Chairs second row)

MSRP:                                         $47,010

As Tested:                                  $48,319

Powertrain:                               3.5L V6 w/ Stop-Start

Horsepower:                            295 @ 6,600 rpm            

Torque:                                      263 ft.-lb. @ 4,700 rpm

Transmission:                           8-speed Direct Shift ECT /Sequential Shift Mode / Dynamic Rev Mgmt

Drive System:                           Part time AWD w/Dynamic Torque Control

Tow Capacity                            5,000 pounds

Drive Modes:                            Snow

Fuel Economy                           20/26 mpg City/Highway 22 mpg combined


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