Family fun in the 2019 Toyota Highlander SE


Experienced by Adrian McQueen

Photography by Adrenaline Lifestyles


The 2019 Toyota Highlander SE arrived right on time to be our carriage for the week. The Toyota Highlander, also known as the Toyota Kluger, is a 5-door mid-size crossover SUV.  After being announced in April 2000 at the New York International Auto Show, it hit the scene in late 2000 in Japan and January 2001 in North America. It was one of the first mid-size crossover SUV’s on the market and still one of the strongest on the market. The 2019 Toyota Highlander ranks highly in the midsize SUV class.

Upon first look, you notice the luxurious styling of the Highlander. Our SE version comes with integrated black LED fog lamps, LED accent strips on the headlights, folding heated power side mirrors, black 19-inch alloy wheels and the panoramic moonroof with sunshade. The Highlander arrived in an Alumina Jade Metal hue which added to the look of luxury that I referenced earlier. Nothing about this vehicle comes across as boring or mundane.

The interior of the Highlander is even more impressive. The SE trim adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display with navigation, perforated leather upholstery, second-row captain’s chairs and a 360-degree view camera system. There is also a rear-seat entertainment system is available on all Highlanders except for the LE and LE Plus models.

The 2019 Highlander has five usb ports. There is also the Entune app suite, Bluetooth, voice recognition, tri-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, HD Radio, proximity key entry, push-button start, a 120-volt outlet and Driver Easy Speak. The dashboard’s layout includes several controls around the touch screen, although I feel that some are difficult to reach while driving. Similar to many other Toyota and Lexus vehicles, Apple Car Play and Android Auto are not included.

The Toyota Highlander seats up to seven people. I really enjoyed the second-row captain’s chairs. They were comfy and made it easier to reach the third-row seating. This was a benefit in getting the kids to their seating once in the vehicle. The third-row seat is perfectly suitable for children. Adults can fit but it would not be comfortable over an extended amount of time. Having a young child, it was important to me that the Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors in its second row. The lower anchors were pretty easy to access. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the highest rating of Good for ease of use. The Highlander comes with a power liftgate that opens to good amount of cargo space.

The Highlander provides a comfortable and quiet ride. Our tested Highlander comes with a 3.5-liter V6, delivering 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine is optional with the base model. The 8-speed automatic transmission is a bit sluggish, after the initial press on the pedal, but once you get going it will hang with the best of them. The tested Highlander returns EPA fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. This is pretty decent for a V6-powered midsize SUV. The tested all-wheel version rides comfortably over most surfaces and has a quiet cabin. When properly equipped it can tow 5,000 pounds.

Toyota does not mess around when it comes to safety. The Highlanders SE trim Toyota Safety Sense-P pre-collision system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection, rearview camera, lane-departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and a surround-view monitor.  The 2019 Highlander earned a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received a five-star rating for the side crash category and four stars in both the frontal crash and rollover categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick.

The Toyota Highlander competes with the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Volkswagen Atlas. The Toyota Highlander is one of the best-selling midsize SUVs.  Toyota offers a limited warranty covering 3 years or 36,000 miles, a powertrain warranty covering 5 years or 60,000 miles and complimentary maintenance that is covered for 2 years or 25,000 miles. Our model tested comes in at $45,019.00. Until November 4th, 2019, Toyota is offering a $289 per month for 36 months with $2999.00 due at signing on Highlander lease deal. Finance deals such as 2.9% financing for 72 months on Highlander and 1.9% financing for 24-60 months on Highlander. There is also a cash back deal with $3000 cash back on Highlander.

The entire family had a great time riding around town in the 2019 Toyota Highlander SE. The SE is the known as the sporty edition with the 19-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension system, black leather-trimmed seats with silver stitching and blue LED ambient lighting. The Highlander is spacious, stylish and comfortable. Definitely a winner in my book. Enjoy the photo gallery.




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