Toyota's 2012 Highlander is available in base, SE and Limited trims. A 2.7L 4-cylinder engine that makes 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque is standard on the base trim and available on the SE. A 3.5L V6 engine making 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque is the optional powertrain. The 4-cylinder engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 versions get a 5-speed automatic. V6-equipped models can be equipped to tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the 4-cylinder is rated to pull up to 3,500 pounds.
Toyota also offers a hybrid version of the Highlander. All hybrids come with a 3.5L V6 engine and integrated electric motor/generator system that's able to make a combined 280 horsepower. The Highlander Hybrid has an EV mode for driving short distances at low speed on electric power only, and the driver-selectable ECON mode limits acceleration to further conserve energy. 4-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission are also standard.
Inside the Highlander, there's seating for up to seven, with a third-row seat that folds and stows away and a 40/20/40-split folding second row that slides fore and aft and also reclines.
Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, front side air bags, roll-sensing side-curtain bags and a driver's knee bag. Hill start assist and downhill assist control are optional. The hybrid also includes the VDIM (vehicle dynamics integrated management) system, which integrates all of the safety electronics--including throttle and brakes--to more seamlessly intervene when a potential loss of vehicle control is detected.
An electric power steering system is standard on all trims and provides many important safety functions. The non-hybrid Highlanders feature 'straight-line steering,' a system that uses the power steering mechanism to offset pulling to one side due to uneven surfaces or hard braking. All Highlanders also feature a corner braking feature whereby the power steering assist helps the driver regain and maintain vehicle stability.
The Highlander's standard feature list includes 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control and power accessories. The fold-flat third row of seating is standard but can be removed. The SE adds a standard sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats and a power passenger seat. At the top of the line is the Limited, which adds leather upholstery and Satin Mahogany interior trim, an upgraded sound system with a 6-disc changer, Smart Key entry system, heated power mirrors and a heated windshield, along with a host of upscale cosmetic details.
Major options include a power door in back, voice-activated navigation, leather upholstery with multi-stage heated seats, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, 3-zone air conditioning, a tow package, a moonroof and a JBL premium audio system with Bluetooth. Available individual options will vary depending on trim level and region.
The 2012 Highlander sees no significant changes from last year's model.