Toyota Highlander Years to Avoid [Best & Worst Time]

To distinguish it from other mid-size crossover SUVs with 3 sets of seats, Toyota has marketed the Highlander, formerly branded as the Kluger, before 2000. The Highlander was one of Toyota’s earliest car-based mid-size SUV crossovers when it was unveiled at the Manhattan Automotive Auto Show in June 2000 and went on sale in Korea and Canada in mid-2000 and January 2001, respectively.

As a crossover version of Toyota’s highly robust subcompact 4Runner, the Highlander was the company’s strongest SUV until the RAV4 dethroned it in 2006. When it debuted in Japan as the Kluger, Toyota Netz’s network of dealerships advertised it as a bigger RAV4 option. The 2007 Toyota highlander was rated as the best crossover before its release in 2010.

A total of 4 generations were released, with respective increases in the Hp of the engines. In 2007, exclusively the V6 all-wheel-drive Highlander was available in Ontario for the 2006-2007 generation year. Part-time four-wheel power, referred to as 4WD-i by Toyota, was an option for hybridization versions.

With this system, an electric engine powers the back wheels. Off-road driving might cause the front electric motors to overload with this arrangement, which is designed for snowfall and ice. You can still get the Toyota highlander for sale but make sure you are avoiding the years in which the production was the worst.

First-generation Toyota highlander years to avoid

  • Years to avoid   2003-2005
  • Best years  2001-2002-2006-2007

The first generation came and it was a huge moment for the Toyota fans until the owner started facing the heated engine issues along with the coolant leakage. The heated engine also results in the engine failing and needing a replacement. People complained about the engine failing around 120K miles. The cost of repairing this problem was very expensive due to which many people had to sell their cars at low rates.

If you love highlander then you should opt for these years. Being the initial year of the production you would get the best vehicles. They were the most reliable cars for this generation.

Second-generation Toyota Highlander years to avoid 

  • Years to avoid  2008
  • Best years  2009-2013

The start of the second generation was known to be very problematic for the company and within the first 2 months, they had a total complaint of 300. The owner complained about the wrong and misleading labels in the cars, the wrong number of airbags, and heated air details. According to the review, it was known that heated seats would catch fire thus this one reason was enough for the downfall of the model year 2008.

After all these complaints Toyota fixed all these complaints and the reviews for the year 2009-2013 were very impressive eventually the sales of these models also went high.

Third-generation Toyota highlander years to avoid 

  • Years to avoid   2014-2016
  • Best years  2017-2019

The third generation relatively had fewer complaints than the previous generations. The only complaint that was found was the issue in the steering rotation. The right side of the rotation was hard and it often made noises that were very annoying for the users. This issue was later fixed and repairing was not expensive at all.

Besides all of these Toyota highlander problems, there were many distinct features as well. The third generation came with a fuel-efficient system and it would have a lot of miles in less fuel. Overall the third generation was very great with high sales.

The fourth generation of Toyota highlander years to avoid 

  • Year to avoid  2019 (year-end)
  • Best the year  2020

The fourth-generation was made very high in technology but the only issue it came along with was that the fuel tank couldn’t get filled full.

On the other hand, the fourth generation received an award for being the safest car of the year. The reviews of this generation were just the best with the highest rate of sale.

Check Out Toyota Tacoma Years to Avoid

Toyota highlander faults by year

Years  Faults 
2003 55
2004 65
2005 24
2008 32
2014 60
2015 16
2016 13
2019 09

Toyota highlander years to avoid 

  • Toyota highlander 2003
  • Toyota highlander 2004
  • Toyota highlander 2008
  • Toyota highlander 2014

Which of the models had a faulty head gasket and oxygen sensor?

The Highlander’s powertrain burning is a rather typical occurrence between 2001 and 2007. The motor gets too hot, contrary to user complaints since a ruptured head gasket is to blame. Inspecting the head screws more closely reveals that they tend to tear the connections from the engine block, resulting in a ruptured head gasket.

Numerous Highlander variants were also found to possess defective oxygen detectors. Coarse idling is caused by this problem, which enables the vehicle to malfunction. Toyota’s highlander reliability by year has increased according to Reddit.

In what year did the Toyota highlander make body style changes?

There are four main structural changes in the Toyota Highlander since it was initially unveiled in late 2000. There were two generations of the Highlander, the first of which lasted from 2001 to 2007 and the other of which lasted from 2008 to 2013; both had a minor upgrade in 2005.  In 2010, the rear head received a small change.

The third version debuted for the 2014 vehicle period and was built until 2019. To stay up with Toyota’s new architectural vocabulary, the rear portion of this vehicle was somewhat reworked in 2016. The finest combative Highlander yet was released in 2020 and is continuing in existence today. Toyota highlander’s best years include all the exterior changes.

2008-2013 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid Buying Guide

Jake Mayock