By Ann M. Job
With three rows of seats, a comfortably functional interior and pleasant looks, Toyota’s 2013 Highlander is a right-sized, no-fuss vehicle for families.
There’s even a removable center section in the Highlander’s second-row seats that simplifies the effort to get to the third-row bench seat even when two child safety seats occupy the second row.
The Highlander also has a strong record for reliability and is a recommended buy of Consumer Reports, where predicted reliability for the 2013 model is much better than average.
The smooth-riding, 2013 Highlander Hybrid is rated at a combined 28 miles per gallon in city and highway driving and ranks third best among gasoline-electric hybrid SUVs.
Still, the Highlander, which is positioned between the smaller Toyota RAV4 and larger 4Runner, does not come with a bargain price.
Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $29,865 for a base, front-wheel drive, 2013 Highlander with 187-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. The lowest starting retail price for a 2013 Highlander with 270-horsepower V-6 is $32,750. All 2013 Highlanders come with automatic transmission, and all V-6-powered Highlanders come standard with four-wheel drive.
The Highlander has plenty of competitors in the mid-size, crossover SUV segment.
Crossovers have SUV styling outside, seat passengers higher above the pavement than they would be in a car and use an underlying structure based on cars for their ride.
The 2013 Kia Sorento, which offers four- and six-cylinder engines, has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $26,150 for a base, front-wheel drive model with a 191-horsepower, four cylinder, automatic transmission and third-row seating. This is $3,715 less than the base 2013 Highlander. The lowest priced 2013 Sorento with all-wheel drive and third-row seats starts at $27,950, and includes the four-cylinder engine.