Why Are Toyota Highlanders So Expensive? (Explained)

The Toyota Highlander made its grand debut in 2000 as a mid-size crossover SUV.

It notably shares the same platform as the Toyota Camry and entered its fourth and most recent generation back in 2019.

It has enjoyed immense success commercially, with millions of units sold while moving 700,000 units in the last three years alone. The Highlander has also received rave reviews from critics who have praised its roomy interior, excellent gas mileage, and reliability.

Truth is, the Toyota Highlander is very much costlier than its peers and competitors, as we are about to see. This piece focuses on exploring the Toyota Highlander fully and finding answers to the question of why it is so expensive.

Here’s the Short Answer to Why the Toyota Highlander Is Expensive:

The Toyota Highlander is one of the best and most popular mid-size SUVs on the market. It will take splashing a stack of coin to get one and reasons include its reputation, reliability, safety ratings, and inexpensive maintenance, amongst other reasons.

Is the Toyota Highlander Overpriced?

To determine whether the Toyota Highlander is overpriced, you’d agree that it’s pertinent to know exactly what the price is for the different trims available.

The Toyota Highlander has 6 different trims with hybrid variants.

They include:

  • the Highlander L,
  • Highlander LE,
  • LE Hybrid,
  • Highlander XLE,
  • Hybrid XLE,
  • Highlander XSE,
  • Highlander Hybrid XLE Bronze,
  • Highlander Limited,
  • Hybrid Limited,
  • Highlander Platinum,
  • and the Hybrid Platinum.

Also, you need to consider that Toyota Highlanders last a long time.

Highlander L: $36,620

Popular features include:

  • Lane Keep Assist,
  • Cruise Control,
  • Climate Control,
  • Proximity Keyless Entry,
  • and Bluetooth.

It also features a 3.5L V6 engine that delivers 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque and a combined 24 MPG.

Highlander LE: $38,820 (Hybrid: $40,270)

Popular features include:

  • Blindspot Monitoring System,
  • Lane Keep Assist,
  • Cruise Control,
  • Climate Control,
  • Proximity Keyless Entry,
  • and Bluetooth.

It sports a 3.5L V6 engine (2.5L I4 for hybrids) and a combined 24 MPG (35 MPG for hybrids).

Highlander XLE: $41,820 (Hybrid: $43,270)

Outstanding features include:

  • Blindspot Monitoring System,
  • Lane Keep Assist,
  • Moonroof,
  • front heated seats,
  • Cruise Control,
  • Climate Control,
  • Keyless Entry,
  • and Bluetooth are all available for this trim.

It also sports a 3.5L V6 engine (2.5L I4 for hybrids), and has a combined 24 MPG (36 MPG for hybrids).

You can see here what years are best and worst for Toyota Highlander.

Highlander XSE: $43,415

Popular features on the XSE trim include Blindspot Monitoring System, Lane Keep Assist, Moonroof, front heated seats, Cruise Control, Climate Control, Keyless Entry, and Bluetooth.

It rides on a 3.5L V6 engine and scores a combined fuel economy estimate of 24 MPG.

You get excellent cargo capacity with the bigger Toyota Highlanders. Check the cargo capacity across all Toyota Highlanders here.

Highlander Hybrid XLE Bronze: $45,295

The Hybrid XLE Bronze features a hybrid 2.5L I4 engine alongside Blindspot Monitoring System, Lane Keep Assist, Moonroof, Front heated seats, Climate Control, Keyless Entry, and Bluetooth.

It has combined fuel economy estimates of 35 MPG and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto are notably absent from the lineup.

Highlander Limited: $45,775 (Hybrid: $47,725)

Popular features on this trim include Lane Keep Assist, Blindspot Monitoring System, Front Heated Seats, Climate Control, Bluetooth, and Keyless Entry.

Wheel size is “20” as opposed to 18 for previous trims, and combined MPG is 24 (36 for hybrids)

Highlander Platinum: $48,975 (Hybrid: $50,425)

The Highlander Platinum has several features, including Blindspot Monitoring System, Lane Keep Assist, Moonroof, front heated seats, Cruise Control, Climate Control, Keyless Entry, and Bluetooth.

Wheel size is “20” and the combined fuel economy estimate is 24 MPG (36 MPG for hybrids).

The above list shows that prices for a Toyota Highlander vary depending on what trim you opt for and the number of available features.

To determine whether the Highlander is overpriced, let’s do a quick review of some basic features.

Interior Quality

The interior quality of the Toyota Highlander is one of the very best in its class.

The base models have quality interior materials and the higher trims have luxurious materials with wood trims and synthetic leather upholstery.

Infotainment System

The only fault with the Toyota Highlander’s infotainment system is that it looks less modern than some of its rivals.

An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard on lower trims while the Limited and Platinum trims get a 12.3-inch display.

Sirius XM, satellite radio, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are also standard on all models.

Safety Features and Ratings

As is popular with Toyota models, the Highlander features a horde of safety and driver-aid features.

Standard features include a rear-view camera, rear-seat reminder, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist, among others.

Optional safety features for upscale trims include:

  • blindspot monitoring,
  • rear cross-traffic alert,
  • surround-view parking camera system,
  • adaptive headlights,
  • rain-sensing windshield wipers,
  • and head-up display.

Besides, the Toyota Highlander also boasts a perfect 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. It was also an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2021.

As far as safety is concerned, the Toyota Highlander certainly isn’t overpriced.

Related: Toyota Highlander In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

Fuel Economy

Non-hybrid Highlander trims deliver just about 21 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway.

These are not bad numbers for a mid-size SUV, but several other vehicles in its class with four-cylinder engines offer better fuel economy.

Also, adding an all-wheel-drive makes it even worse and reduces fuel economy to 20 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway.

Hybrid variants of the Toyota Highlander, however, deliver a combined MPG of 36, which is a pretty excellent figure.

Engine Power and Torque

The Toyota Highlander comes ready with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces up to 295 horsepower.

The eight-speed automatic transmission combines with the V6’s power to produce a smooth driving experience.

Having considered these features and abilities, we believe the Toyota Highlander is priced fairly. While it falls short in certain areas, it’s generally an above-average mid-size SUV.

Here’s what some industry-leading pundits have to say:

“Practical, comfortable, and stylish, the 2022 Toyota Highlander is a family SUV with its eye on the mid-size prize. This three-row ute has plenty to offer and a variety of configurations to appeal to the widest possible audience.”

Source: Car and Driver

“Buying a new Highlander is a little overpriced, so we recommend opting for a 2-3-year-old model to get the best value for money.”

Source: MotorAsk

How Much Has the Price Increased Year for Year?

Here are the yearly variations of the Toyota Highlander’s price:

  • 2013 Toyota Highlander: $29,020
  • 2014 Toyota Highlander: $29,215
  • 2015 Toyota Highlander: $29,765
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander: $30,490
  • 2017 Toyota Highlander: $30,630
  • 2018 Toyota Highlander: $32,325
  • 2019 Toyota Highlander: $32,950
  • 2020 Toyota Highlander: $35,775
  • 2021 Toyota Highlander: $36,300
  • 2022 Toyota Highlander: $36,620

You can see a guide here to how much each Highlander model can tow.

The list above shows that over the last 10 years, the Toyota Highlander has only had about a $7,000 increase in starting price.

And over the last five years, it has had about $4,000 increase due partly to the start of anew generation in 2019..

Between 2021 and 2022, the starting price only increased by just under $500.

Related: How Long Do Toyota Highlander Last? (Solved & Explained!)

Why Does the Toyota Highlander Cost More Than Other Similar Cars?


The Toyota Highlander starts at $36,620 and its competitors include:

  • Kia Telluride ($34,015),
  • Hyundai Santa Fe ($28,445),
  • Mazda CX-9  ($36,505),
  • Honda Pilot($38,805)
  • and Chevrolet Traverse ($34,895).

It costs more than every one of its competitors mentioned above, except the Honda Pilot and below are some reasons for that:

Excellent Safety Ratings

As we have discussed before, the Toyota Highlander boasts top-tier safety features and excellent safety scored from the NHTSA and IIHS to go along with it. This has, in some way, contributed to its cost.

Unblemished Reputation and Reliability

The Toyota Highlander belongs to a long line of Toyota vehicles reputed for their longevity and reliability.

It scores an 80/100 reliability score on JD Power and ranks amongst their top 3 most reliable SUVs. The Highlander also notches a 4/5 reliability score on RepairPal.

Low Maintenance Cost

On average, it costs about $468 to maintain the Toyota Highlander yearly. That’s a super steal, especially when compared to the $573 average for mid-size SUVs and the $652 yearly average for all vehicles.

Great Resale Value

Both used and brand new Toyota Highlander models have exceptional resale value. CarEdge estimates that the Toyota Highlander only depreciates by 35% after five years.

That incredible percentage lands it at #4 on the list of 200 cars with the best resale value after half a decade.

Related: 11 Toyota Highlander Statistics You Should Know (Facts & Numbers)

Why Are Used Toyota Highlander Models So Expensive?

Used Toyota Highlanders are expensive because the new ones are also very expensive.

They have a reputation for holding their values incredibly well and have a slower deprecation rate than most other cars.

Besides this, Toyota Highlander models are very reliable and this contributes to their relatively expensive price tags, even in the “USED” market.

How Much Should You Pay for a Brand New Toyota Highlander?

If you are looking to cop a brand new Toyota Highlander, here’s how much you should expect to pay:

For a Toyota Highlander L, the market average price is $37,784, which is 3.2% above the MSRP of $36,620.

Prices for other trims include:

  • LE ($40,146),
  • Hybrid LE ($41,882),
  • XLE ($42,764),
  • Hybrid XLE ($44,402),
  • XSE ($44,203),
  • Hybrid XLE Bronze ($47,202),
  • Limited ($46,750),
  • Hybrid Limited ($48,649),
  • Platinum ($50,664),
  • and Hybrid Platinum ($52,752)

A reminder that these prices reflect the national average and aren’t the same as the MSRP.

Does the Toyota Highlander Hold Its Value?

The Toyota Highlander holds its value better than most vehicles on the market today.

It only depreciates by 35% after five years, according to Car Edge, which, as we have mentioned before, is one of the reasons it is so expensive.

Below is a more comprehensive commentary by CarEdge:

“The Toyota Highlander does a fantastic job holding its value in the short-term, and places in our top 20 models at the 3, 5, and 7-year marks. For those looking in this vehicle class, the Highlander provides excellent value, and you can feel confident in your purchase, whether new or used. “

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