2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Review: A Fresh Take on a Reliable Classic

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Review:

  • 2023 Toyota Highlander: $36,420 – $49,275
  • Pros: The 2023 Toyota Highlander received an update for this year that made one of the best-selling vehicles even better.
  • Cons: Not the most thrilling ride out there, but the Highlander delivers on its promise. The cargo area is tight with the third row up, and the hands-free liftgate was fussy at times.

The midsize segment is as affluent as it gets, with solid options for the majority of consumers. However, the 2023 Highlander Limited picks up all the pieces left behind by the others and uses them to their advantage. This Toyota Highlander review looks at everything that the reliable SUV gets right, which outweighs some of the negatives.

The Highlander has been the top-selling retail midsize SUV for six years, the automaker won’t let that title slip away any time soon. A new high-torque, high-efficiency turbocharged engine delivers 265PS and 309Nm of torque, a 17 percent increase over last year. While fuel economy stands at a combined 24 mpg this year as well, Toyota says it’s more environmentally friendly in all grades of gasoline.

How does the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited drive?

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

Those looking into the midsize SUV segment may already be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. While the Highlander is nothing new, it stands up to many years on the market. Going into the 2023 Highlander Limited, it’s easy to see why it’s a best seller. During the review of the Toyota Highlander, the interior felt roomy without being too large, and climbing into the back was easy with second-row captain’s chairs.

The Highlander offers a smooth and quiet ride, with good visibility all around. During city testing of the SUV, the dynamic grid backup camera made it easier to get out of tight spots. While some SUVs can get a little too happy in tight spots, Toyota delivered a helpful ride without being overpowering.

Coming onto the highway, the Highlander had no trouble catching up. Sport mode offered more shooting, but it wasn’t necessary. Eco mode kept fuel economy in the expected range, but it was slow to start in traffic. Once the engine idle stop kicked in, it took a few seconds to wake up and get underway. Disabling Eco mode for Normal mode made it a little less nervous during standstill takeoffs.

What else sets the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited apart from the competition?

The interior of the Highlander
2023 Highlander Limited | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

While there was no snow to test the all-wheel drive, it performed well off the beaten track. Toyota offers Multi-Terrain Select to help maximize off-road traction. Mud & Sand mode for beach riding and Rock & Dirt mode for increased traction. In testing, the Mud & Sand mode handled terrain without issue. Even with the stock tires, the Highlander had enough ground clearance to traverse the Florida landscape, climbing steep, sandy hills with no problem.

Inside, the Toyota Highlander’s interior is comfortable and of high quality. The steering wheel controls are easy to use and the touchscreen is responsive. Apple CarPlay works fine, but the most important climate controls and similar settings have real buttons. You don’t have to search through endless menus to turn down the air.

When testing the hands-free tailgate during the Toyota Highlander review, it worked most of the time. Instructions aren’t obvious at first, but Toyota has included a QR code that drivers can scan for a helpful video.

Is the Toyota Highlander Limited better than the XLE?

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited in front of a sunset
A 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited in Cypress Green | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

For 2023, the Toyota Highlander has seven different trim levels. The base trim is also well equipped, but there are many ways to configure the Highlander.

L $36,420
THE $38,820
XLE $41,820
XSE extension $43,415
Bronze edition $45,980
Limited $46,075
Platinum $49,275
Limited Prices Toyota Highlander 2023 | Toyota

The good news is, there’s a 2023 Toyota Highlander trim for everyone. We tested the Highlander Limited with all-wheel drive and found it had just about everything consumers could want, with the exception of heated front and second-row seats. The Limited trim also gets a tilt-and-slide sunroof, while the Platinum gets a panoramic glass roof. While there are other minor differences, the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited we tested for the week checked all the boxes.

All trim levels get 16.0 cubic feet of space behind the third row. Folding the split 60/40 third-row seatbacks brings up to 48.4 cubic feet, and folding the third seat brings the total cubic area to 84.3 cubic feet. If you plan to use the third row regularly, the cargo area may be a little tight. It fits two 24-packs of water bottles on a test shopping run and a bag of golf clubs (but not at the same time).

How safe is the Toyota Highlander?

The Highlander is no stranger to safety awards from groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As in previous years, the 2023 Toyota Highlander won the Top Safety Pick Plus award. It also received a five-star safety rating from the .

This year’s SUV receives the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ standard, which includes the following systems:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Dynamic radar cruise control at full speed
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
  • Lane detection assistant
  • Road sign assistance
  • Automatic high beams
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert

What engine is in the 2023 Highlander?

A look into the Highlander's engine compartment
2023 Toyota Highlander | Amanda Cline, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Toyota Highlander has two engine choices: the 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and the hybrid. The 2.4L is all new for this year, with 256PS and 309Nm of torque. The combined 24 mpg is the same as last year, but Toyota says it’s much more environmentally friendly.

The Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the traditional gasoline powertrain. It also gets Trailer Sway Control (TSC), which uses the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system to help tow heavy loads.

Toyota also offers the Highlander in a hybrid powertrain, combining a 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The Highlander gets 36 mpg combined with the hybrid and can tow 3,500 lbs.

MotorBiscuit gives the 2023 Toyota Highlander a score of 9.0 out of 10

MotorBiscuit editors award the 2023 Toyota Highlander an overall rating of 9.0 out of 10. Toyota has a winner in the Highlander and didn’t need to change much to stay competitive. It may not be fuel efficient or powerful enough for some, but it makes up for that by being comfortable and reliable.

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