Toyota Highlander Ascends to New Altitude for 2011

Presiding into the year as Toyota’s best-selling sport utility vehicle, the Highlander has endured a very rough 2010.

After a positive start by ushering in 2010 with non-hybrid Highlanders now American-built from Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana facility, trouble quickly plagued the SUV. Caught up within the widespread recall for the faulty accelerator pedal assemblies, the Highlander was one of several Toyota products dealerships forced temporarily off the market late January as the Japanese-based auto company scrambled to fix the potentially fatal safety fault. Now engaged in a massive campaign to refurbish the image of Toyota vehicles including the Highlander, the mid-life span face-lift for the 2011 SUV can provide some additional visual stimuli for looking at Toyota again. Continuing to feature both gasoline-only and hybrid powerplant models, the 2011 Toyota Highlander lineup features increased amenities and power.

Classified as a major revision, the new Toyota Highlander bares a near identical side appearance to the existing Highlander. Regrettably for those who are not won over by the ‘less is more’ Toyota styling direction, there is very little design enhancements for 2011. With headlamps and grille drawing on the Toyota 4Runner, the most notable change is found in form of a new front end. On gasoline-only models of the Highlander, black rocker panels with chrome accenting will distinguish the 2011 versions of the mid-size SUV.

For gasoline-only models of the 2011 Toyota Highlander, the incumbent four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines from 2010 return with dual VVT-i (variable valve timing with intelligence) as well as a variable intake manifold. One change coming for the 2011 Highlander is the SE model can now be opted with the smaller 2.7 liter, 187 horsepower inline-four. Previously, only the Base model of the Toyota Highlander would be available with the four banger engine. The high-end 3.5 liter V-6 powerplant remains the choice for a more excited 270 horsepower. Again, the Toyota Highlander powertrains can be ordered as either front-wheeled or four-wheel drive.

Inside the 95.4 cubic foot cabin offering seating for up to 7 occupants, the comforting Highlander interior provides spaces for 10-cup holders, four bottle holders and 2 auxiliary power outlets. Equipped with an expanded assortment standard features throughout the model lineup, the 2011 Highlander’s entry-level Base packaging includes front and rear air conditioning, power locks/windows, cruise control as well as a multi-functional keyless entry control. Versions of the mid-sized SUV SE model or higher are fitted with Toyota new XM satellite radio and Bluetooth-enabled Tech Audio as no charge equipment.

Besides interior conveniences and comfort, a major selling point of mid-sized SUVs is a solid safety package. Vehicle Stability Control, Electric Power Steering, anti-lock braking and a corner-braking feature are packed into all 2011 model Toyota Highlanders. Four-wheel drive models also include standard Downhill Assist Control to prevent wheel lock-up under braking for improved terrain handling. Serving more helpful in suburban locations, Highlanders in the SE and Limited models includes a rear-view backup camera for added assure traveling in reverse.

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Receiving specific attention for 2011, the Highlander Hybrid models receiving unique styling details. Unlike the gasoline-only variants of the Toyota Highlander wearing the new black-coloured rocker panels, the hybrids exterior wear rockers matching the vehicle’s body colour. A special grille, bumper design featuring orchestrated log lamps, and blue lens taillights complete the exterior appearance of the new Highlander Hybrid.

Integrating the most considerable technical change in the entire Highlander lineup, the Highlander Hybrid now has the Toyota Synergy Drive combined with the 3.5 liter engine. While overall performance is not substantially improved over the 2010 Hybrid at 280 horsepower (only a 10 horsepower increase) EPA certified fuel economy of 28 city and 28 highway, a 2 mile per gallon average gain.

Priced higher than the 2010 model vehicles, the 2011 Toyota Highlander starts at $27,390 for the Base trimmed 4-cylinder ranging to $36,345 for the V-6 powered Limited 4WD model. The Highlander Hybrid begins at $37,290 pushing almost to $43,000 for the Hybrid Limited.

Information and photo source: Toyota

Chris Nagy

Chris Nagy

Automotive Editor
Admiring automobiles ever since childhood viewership of the TV show Knight Rider, Chris Nagy grew as an enthusiast enroute to become an automotive and motorsport writer. Drawn to the rich world of motoring, Chris discovers charm everywhere in the industry from supercars like the Bugatti Veyron to a Kia Soul. Car design, engineering, performance and the passion itself fuels his daily existence.
Chris Nagy

@ChrisnagyCarGuy

Mech Eng. Grad, Automotive & Motorsport Journalist with a wide range of intrigue. An Unsuccessful Quitter Who Continues to Try.
RT @mecum: 1988 #Pontiac #Fiero GT with T-tops #SOLD for $16,250 at #Mecum #Harrisburg! http://t.co/V8DOjktrXa - 3 hours ago


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  • http://carstyleguide.blogspot.com/ CSG

    That’s not a nice looking car. The Lexus RX is much better looking, but you pay for it.

    I’m sure that Toyota’s production problems are sorted, and wouldn’t worry about the recall if you like the car.

  • darren

    Hideous vehicle. I wouldn't touch a Toyota anymore.

    • http://www.automoblog.net/ Chris Burdick

      Solely based on the recall fiasco, or did you dislike Toyota before then?

  • jen hott

    toyota was decent before but after there big mess i wouldnt touch them either