2016 Toyota Highlander

Considering the number of three-row SUVs, the 2016 Toyota Highlander must work hard to earn its popularity. Working hard means offering more in every area. The Highlander can claim a cushy cabin as well as a powerful engine. It can claim world-class safety as well as top technologies. There’s even a case for affordable luxury when you consider its top trims. Confirming its ability to meet today’s biggest challenges, the 2016 Toyota Highlander has earned an A rating from leading auto critic Edmunds.

To create comfort, Highlander engineers have expanded wiggle room by 38 percent through clever engineering techniques. The SUV still offers a choice of seven or eight seats. High quality materials and ergonomic design create an inviting atmosphere for driver and passengers. The cabin is hushed thanks to more sound insulation as well as clever engineering techniques that reduce engine noise.

2016 Toyota Highlander

Shoppers who are seeking a luxury cabin won’t be disappointed. Higher trim editions come with leather seats and a long list of favorite amenities. For instance, climate control features include a tri-zone programmable HVAC system, front- and second-row seat heaters, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and second-row sunshades. Some editions trade the center bench for cushy captain’s chairs.

Every Highlander has Bluetooth and an Entune touch screen. Standards also include a backup camera, smartphone integration, and Siri Eyes Free. Moving up the trim ladder, shoppers can enjoy a larger touch display, HD radio, navigation and the Entune app suite. Push button start and a color driver information display add to the feeling that this is quite a modern ride. Families may want to add the rear entertainment center and Driver Easy Speak, a microphone system that directs the driver’s voice to the back seat.

Toyota redesigned the suspension to create more room in the cargo hold. The result is a remarkable 158 cubic feet with the seats folded. The Highlander is one of the few SUVs today to offer a flip-up hatch window. In addition, it offers a power liftgate that can be programmed to accommodate the driver’s garage height.

Every exterior aspect has been tweaked for an aerodynamic flow that's surprising for such a spacious SUV. The bold grille actually channels air, improving the SUV’s wind resistance. The ChromTec roof rails have been shaped to improve wind flow. Even the available panoramic moonroof has been redesigned to improve aerodynamics. This also minimizes road noise when open.

The traditional 2.7-liter engine balances power outlay with the need for good fuel economy. Capable of a 5,000-pound tow, a popular V-6 powertrain now comes with a 200-watt fan coupling, a supplemental oil cooler, and a heavy-duty radiator. These features protect the Highlander engine from towing stress. Amplifying power outlay without sacrificing at the fuel pump, the Highlander Hybrid offers another smart way to drive.

The 2016 Toyota Highlander has made the grade, according to the federal safety testers that gave it five stars. The latest crash avoidance features are available, including automatic braking to assist with frontal collision dangers. Other systems include a lane departure alert, a blind spot monitor, and a rear cross-traffic alert.

All in all, it’s easy to see why Edmunds calls this SUV a top pick.