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Thread: Short Review of my friend's 2005 Toyota Highlander V6

  1. #1

    Short Review of my friend's 2005 Toyota Highlander V6

    My best friend got an old Highlander V6 from his cousin, formerly owned by grandparents. It has 110,000 miles on it. I got to drive it around the capital region of upstate NY last week.

    This won't be a full-on review like mine of the E-class, because I didn't get to drive it thousands of miles. Maybe I will do that when we road trip the thing. A few impressions though:

    The steering really caught me by surprise. It's very good and full of road feel. I know that most cars have artificial and light steering these days, with a few exceptions (like the new C-class), but I was not expecting a Highlander to steer like a 90s Maxima or Accord! The weight is good, and it's decently direct, especially considering it's on the Camry platform. As a matter of fact, this steering rack blows away those of the last two generation Camrys. It inspires confidence. My two rental Camrys were downright scary to steer on twisty, mountain roads. What happened to you, Toyota? I guess there was still a little bit of residue from the company that made the Supra when this CUV was built.

    The ride is very good, stopping just shy of modern luxury car plushness. The roads up there are much smoother than around NYC, but we hit some bumpy sections, which were dispatched with ease. I was pleasantly surprised by how little bobbing and porpoising there was on the rebound. Overall, the body was well-controlled.

    It's a very comfortable place to be. The seats were excellent and the armrests were perfectly padded. I love how the front seats are in captain's chair form, with inboard fold-able arm rests for each one. This is a common thing with Toyoa SUVs. Legroom in both rows was nice. This one did not have a third row.

    Cabin noise is loud by today's standards; really, we are absolutely spoiled by how quiet even today's compact economy models are! Sound-deadening has become such an art form in this industry. Road and wind noise are ever-present, but not to the point where they become tiresome. However, it's quieter than my Altima and G on the highway. The engine noise is not particularly well-suppressed, but it is a very pleasant V6 induction sound (more on the engine in a few passages!).

    Handling was about what you'd expect: competent, but this car is not particularly capable or of high limits. Body roll is pronounced, but not unruly. It serves its purpose well as a family hauler, and for the price, it's not bad at all. It might even be a better handler than the Camrys I've rented, though I would probably have to drive them back to back for a fair comparison.

    The build quality, oh my gosh. Toyotas are just not this well built anymore. The newest Highlander and Avalon come close, and use really nice materials, but this thing is almost as rock-solid as a Mercedes. Heavy *whoomp* to the doors and lift gate, interior lids that feel like a million bucks, great-feeling switchgear. The interior cubby lids felt like they'd last forever, unlike today's Toyota SUVs. The seams between plastic surfaces in the cabin were tight and lovingly tucked into each other with gentle, rounded edges. No harsh seams or cutlines here! Nothing was misaligned. While the dash was hard plastic, it was grained like a decent grade of leather, and knocking it revealed a granitic solidity. This feels like a car that will last 40 years.

    Exterior paint (black, in this case) destroys my Altima's. It's just very high-quality, with lots of depth and gloss. I haven't Zainoed his car yet (I do this for my closest friends!), but it looks like I already have. Incredible! The best part is that there is actually some paint left on the front bumper cover. #Nissanpaintsucks.

    The V6 engine is a gem. It's not a speed demon; this thing weighs 3,500 pounds and the 230 hp 3.3L was taxed a bit with three people in the car. However, its smoothness and refinement was exemplary. It's definitely smoother than my old VQ, but just does not have the same grunt or aggressive exhaust note. Each motor has its advantages IMO.

    It's not an AWD model, which probably helped the fuel economy (we got about 23 mpg combined on fill-up, which is similar to my RWD G). Fun fact: the gas tank is a big ole' 20 gallon jug, just like my Altima and G. Horray for cruising range!

    Overall, I can highly recommend this car to anyone looking for a nicely-built, cheap old car that will handle road trips and family duty with ease. It was pleasant, though not particularly fun to drive. Another buddy of mine (the one who has a Mazda6) tells me that his friend has one of these. They take it up to Vermont every winter for ski trips. He says it's unbelievably reliable.
    Last edited by JayG35; 03-22-2015 at 09:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Administrator palmerwmd's Avatar
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    Jun 2002
    So this is a crossover?
    "In the end we all just play the roles given us... Sometimes they dont fit so well,... but I guess we make do."

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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by palmerwmd View Post
    So this is a crossover?
    Yup! I don't really like crossovers or SUVs of any kind, except perhaps some of the sportier German ones, but this wasn't bad to drive. I'd just rather drive a wagon. But an old Highlander would be a great trip car pickup for cheap. They're easier on gas than a 4runner or Landcruiser, and a lot cheaper to obtain because they have depreciated more for some reason. I suppose it's the legendary reputation that the body-on-frame Toyota trucks have.

    Actually, have you checked out the values for Landcruiers? They, like, don't depreciate. It's ridiculous. I know they're unbreakable, but come on! Back around 2010, I saw some low-mileage mid 90s examples with asking prices over $20,000. For the book value of my friend's car, you'd be looking at a LC from the 90s with over 200,000 miles on it. Lol.

    I didn't realize this was the first generation Highlander. It looks like this, but with different wheels.

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