The Toyota Highlander, also known as the Kluger in Japan and Australia, was introduced in the year 2000 as a midsize crossover SUV. It shares a platform with the popular Toyota Camry. The Highlander features front-wheel drive that can be switched to full-time four-wheel drive with the push of a button. The Highlander is available with either the 3.5L V6 or 3.3L V6 Hybrid. A 4-cylinder engine was available through 2006, when it was dropped as an option. However, in 2009, Toyota once again offered a 2.7 L 4-cylinder version of the engine.
The Highlander's 3.5L V6 provides up to 270-hp and a 0 to 60 mph time of 7.8-seconds. Highlander's interior sports either five- or seven-passenger seating options, and, as is the case with most mid-sized SUVs, there is an available towing package. The Toyota Highlander also shines among mid-sized SUVs when it comes to fuel economy. Whether driving in town or on the highway, the Highlander sips fuel at a rate that hovers between 20 and 25-mpg. From 2000 through 2006, Highlanders were manufactured in Kyushu, Japan. As Toyota ramped up production in 2007, they opened assembly plants in Guangzho, China, and Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan, for global sales outside the United States. Models sold within the United States are assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton, Indiana.
From its debut in 2000 to the present, the Toyota Highlander has been one of Toyota's most popular SUVs. From 2000 to 2007 there were relatively few cosmetic changes to the Highlander. In 2004, the 4-speed transmission was replaced with a 5-speed, which helped increase fuel economy. In 2005, Toyota introduced a hybrid version of the Highlander, which used the Hybrid Synergy Drive to bump the fuel economy up above 30-mpg. 2008 ushered in a Highlander that was a bit larger and more streamlined. For the 2011 model year, the Highlander design will feature new headlights and more standard features on all trim levels.
The Toyota Highlander offers three trim levels: Base, Sport and Limited. All versions of the Highlander have standard 2WD and optional 4WD. Other options include leather seating, power sunroof, DVD system, navigation, rear seat entertainment, side impact curtain airbags and heated front seats. The hybrid version of the Highlander has become increasingly popular as gas prices rise to previously unseen levels.
Because of its quality and popularity, the Toyota Highlander has received numerous awards. In 2002, Consumer Reports named Highlander Best Mid-sized SUV" and J.D. Power and Associates awarded the Highlander with its prestigious "Initial Quality Study Award". 2005 saw Highlander receive the "Best Overall Value" award from IntelliChoice. In 2006, MotorWeek named the Highlander the "Best Eco-Friendly" hybrid. Overall, Highlander provides consumers with one of the best overall SUVs available in both quality and durability.
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