Best & Worst Toyota Highlander Years

The Toyota Highlander has long been famous for families seeking a reliable, spacious, and comfortable SUV. Its reputation for durability has consistently ranked among the top vehicles in its class.

The best & worst Toyota Highlander years to help you navigate the choices available on the market. As with any vehicle model, not all years are created equal. 

Understanding which model years have excelled and which have fallen short can make all the difference in your purchasing decision.

Toyota Highlander Generations

Toyota Highlander (XU20, 1st generation)2001-2007
Toyota Highlander (XU40, 2nd generation)2008-2013
Toyota Highlander (XU50, 3rd generation)2014-2019
Toyota Highlander (XU70, 4th generation)2020-Present

Toyota has an automotive market through there impressive generations, each bearing unique characteristics and advancements.

Sleek design and functionality that quickly became a popular choice for families and adventure seekers alike. Buyers began to seek more modern features, such as advanced safety systems and connectivity options.

Toyota Highlander Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st (2001-2007)2003
2nd (2008-2013)2009
3rd (2014-2019)2014
4th (2020-Present)202020212022

The Toyota Highlander has had a history of both stellar and lacklustre years, prompting consumers to navigate through its model timeline carefully.

Here are the combined scores for each Toyota Highlander model year. You can get a better overview:

Best & Worst Toyota Highlander Years

Best & Worst Years For Toyota Highlander 1st Generation (2001-2007)

The first generation Toyota Highlander, produced from 2001 to 2007, has had its share of highs and lows.

Best Years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006

Toyota Highlander marked a transformative period for the popular crossover SUV, each year bringing unique features and enhancements.

The 2003 and 2004 Highlander introduced a refined interior and smooth ride quality, making it an appealing choice for families seeking comfort and reliability. The addition of available third-row seating made it even more versatile, catering to larger groups or growing families.

Moving into 2004, Toyota upgraded the Highlander’s safety features with optional stability control and traction control systems, enhancing its reputation for prioritizing driver and passenger well-being.

Best & Worst Toyota Highlander Years

The introduction of a hybrid model in 2005 further solidified Highlander’s appeal as an eco-friendly option in the crossover SUV market.

This move reflected Toyota’s commitment to innovation and sustainability while offering customers another dimension of choice in their vehicle selection.

Neutral Year: 2002

Its neutral-year status signifies a moment of convergence between classic SUV functionality and contemporary refinement.

The 2002 Toyota Highlander emerged as a compelling alternative to traditional SUVs, offering a smooth and comfortable driving experience without compromising space or utility.

The vehicle’s practicality was matched by its efficient use of space, boasting ample room for passengers and cargo alike. 

Worst Years: 2001, 2007

The 2001 and 2007 Toyota Highlander 1st generation models faced significant challenges, making them the worst years for this popular SUV.

Worst Toyota Highlander Years

Both years were plagued by widespread complaints about transmission issues, including rough shifting, hesitation, and complete failure.

Owners experienced frequent problems with the engine, electrical system, and various components such as the air conditioning system and power windows. 

Best & Worst Years For Toyota Highlander 2nd Generation (2008-2013)

The second-generation Toyota Highlander, spanning from 2008 to 2013, has seen its best, neutral, and worst years in terms of reliability and overall consumer satisfaction,

Best Years: 2009, 2011, 2012

Toyota introduced a more powerful V6 engine option in the 2009 model, providing a seamless blend of power and efficiency. The sleek exterior design also received praise for its modern yet timeless aesthetic.

It continued in 2011 and 2012 models to refine the Highlander’s interior with upgraded materials and improved technology features. The introduction of the Entune infotainment system set a new standard for connectivity and convenience in the segment.

Neutral Year: 2013

Some may find the 2013 model’s design and features unremarkable compared to its rivals. It has carved a niche for itself as a dependable and practical family vehicle.

The interior offers ample space for passengers and cargo but lacks the plushness and modern amenities of newer models.

Worst Years: 2008, 2010

The woes of 2008 and 2010 Toyota Highlander 2nd Generation owners have been a tale of frustration and disappointment, particularly regarding interior electronics.

Reports flooded in about malfunctioning navigation systems, leaving drivers stranded and disoriented. Climate control issues further compounded the problem, with some drivers experiencing erratic temperature fluctuations and unresponsive controls.

The 2010 model also grappled with premature brake wear, raising safety concerns for both the SUV’s occupants and other road users.

Best and Worst Toyota Highlander Years 3rd Generation (2014-2019)

The third generation of the Toyota Highlander, from 2014 to 2019, has seen impressive and underwhelming years. 

Best Years for Toyota Highlander: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018

The Highlander 2014 and 2016 years received a complete redesign, introducing a sleeker exterior, more spacious interior, and improved fuel efficiency.

This was a pivotal moment for the model line, setting new standards in its segment and earning accolades for both its performance and comfort.

Toyota, in 2017 year, made significant strides in safety technology by equipping the Highlander with advanced driver assistance features like automatic emergency braking as standard on all trims, an essential move.

Refined the Toyota Highlander 2018 by upgrading its infotainment system to include Apple CarPlay compatibility, a modern touch that enhanced connectivity and convenience for tech-savvy users. 

Neutral Year: 2015

Its neutral design may not turn heads, but its focus on functionality and versatility sets it apart. With a V6 engine that delivers solid acceleration and smooth ride quality, the 2015 model offers a driving experience that is both refined and capable. 

Worst Year: 2019

The 2019 model Toyota Highlander faced a significant drop in customer satisfaction and reliability, marking it as one of the worst years for this model.

The third generation of Highlanders, particularly the 2019 version, garnered negative feedback for its lacklustre performance. 

Best & Worst Years For Toyota Highlander 4th Generation (2020-Present)

The 4th generation Toyota Highlander, introduced in 2020, has garnered praise and criticism from drivers and automotive experts alike.

Best Year for Toyota Highlander: 2020

This model introduced a sleek and modern design, upgraded technology features, and improved fuel efficiency compared to previous versions.

Best & Worst Toyota Highlander Years

The performance and handling also received positive feedback from drivers, making it a top choice for families and adventure-seekers.

Neutral Year: 2021

The exterior boasts a sleek yet understated profile, with clean lines and a refined presence that exudes confidence without being overtly flashy.

This neutrality allows the Highlander to appeal to a wide range of customers, from those seeking a reliable family vehicle to individuals searching for a versatile daily driver.

Worst Years: 2022, 2023

Toyota Highlander in 2022 and 2023 have been met with mixed reviews, with some car enthusiasts labelling these years as the worst for this popular SUV.

Frequently cited complaints include the lacklustre performance of the standard four-cylinder engine. Drivers feel it lacks the power to accelerate confidently, especially when fully loaded or towing.

Toyota Highlander Average Resale Values

The Toyota Highlander has proven to be a wise investment, with its resale values consistently outpacing the competition. The average resale value of the Toyota Highlander remains remarkably high, even after several years of ownership.

Best & Worst Toyota Highlander Years

This trend underscores the enduring appeal and quality of the vehicle, solidifying its reputation as a smart choice for both new car buyers and those searching for a reliable pre-owned vehicle.

A closer look at the graph reveals that the Toyota Highlander stands out among its peers regarding holding its value. This is particularly significant in today’s market, where depreciation can significantly erode a vehicle’s worth. 


The Toyota Highlander has its share of standout and lackluster years. The best & worst Toyota Highlander years are from 2001 to 2023, which offer a compelling blend of reliability, performance, and features.

Transmission issues and subpar performance have plagued many of the worst years. Careful consideration of model years is essential for those purchasing a used Toyota Highlander.