The 2021 Toyota Highlander offers three engine choices including a 2.7-liter I-4 185 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, a 3.5-liter V-6 with 295 hp and 263 lb-ft, and a hybrid powertrain that combines the 3.5-liter V-6 with three electric motors, a CVT and a nickel metal hydride battery for a total output of 306 hp. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission available with the base four-cylinder engine and the V-6 comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic.
EPA fuel economy ratings are 20/24 mpg city/highway for the front-drive four-cylinder model and 20/27 mpg for V-6 models with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive models are rated at 19/26 mpg for the LE Plus, 19/26 mpg for the LE, and 20/26 mpg in the XLE, SE, Limited, and Limited Platinum trims. The most efficient Highlander is the Highlander Hybrid at 30/28 mpg for the LE Plus trim and 29/27 mpg for the XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum trims.
The 2021 Highlander received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars). The IIHS hasn’t tested the 2021 Highlander but the 2020 model received a Good score on all crashworthiness tests and Acceptable on the headlights test (Good is the highest possible score). In the front crash prevention test, the Highlander received a Superior rating after it avoided a 12-mph collision and reduced the impact of a 25-mph impact by 24 mph (Superior is the highest possible rating on the front crash prevention test). As a result, the Toyota Highlander received the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating.
Cargo space is 13.8 cubic feet behind the third row, 42.3 cubic feet behind the second row and up to 83.7 cubic feet behind the front seats on the LE and LE Plus models. The XLE, SE and Limited trims have slightly less maximum cargo space at 83.2 cubic feet and adding the panoramic sunroof drops capacity even more to 82.6 cubic feet. When properly equipped, the four-cylinder Highlander can tow up to 1,500 pounds while the V-6-powered ones can tow 5,000 pounds. The Highlander Hybrid can only tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.