5 Fun Facts You Might Not Know About the 2021 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander has been one of the brand’s longest-standing offerings, going back two decades. The 3-row midsize crossover is known for its mix of practicality, capability, and attractive design.

The 2021 Highlander comes in six trim levels: L, LE, XLE, newly added XSE, Limited, and Platinum. It gets its motivation from a 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, which ties to an 8-speed automatic transmission. There is also an efficient hybrid powertrain based on a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. The Highlander is available with standard front-wheel drive (FWD) or optional all-wheel drive (AWD) and has a tow rating of up to 5,000 pounds. 

For 2021, the mildly refreshed Highlander gets enhanced safety equipment, a new trim level, and standard LED projector headlights. With so many great features and facets, it’s hard to narrow down our favorite ones. But here are five fun facts that certainly make the Highlander a crossover worth considering.

Fun Fact 1: Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ brings peace of mind. - Find the best Toyota deals!

2021 Toyota Highlander XLE Silver Front Quarter

Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 2.5+ is a comprehensive suite of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) designed with the premise that it is better to avoid an accident than simply to survive one. And it comes standard across all of the Highlander’s trim levels.

TSS 2.5+ focuses on eliminating three primary types of accidents: frontal collisions, accidental lane changes, and nighttime mishaps. Improving on the previous Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system, the newest iteration: 

  • Enhances the pre-collision system with low-light cyclist detection
  • Adds intersection turn assistance to prevent unsafe turns against oncoming traffic or when a pedestrian or cyclist is present
  • Improves powertrain response when overtaking slower vehicles

Fun Fact 2: The Highlander is for the cargo-minded. - Find the best Toyota deals!

All SUVs have cargo in mind, but some more than others. If hauling things is your priority, the Highlander offers a voluminous 84.3 cubic feet of space with all seats folded down. That’s more than competitors such as the Mazda CX-9 and Nissan Pathfinder offer, and the Highlander matches the spacious Honda Pilot in cargo space.

Whether it’s luggage, outdoor gear, or a pair of twin mattresses, the Highlander is a midsize crossover designed to move things, especially when outfitted with a nifty cargo liner. And when you don’t need the entire cargo bay, there’s still an impressive 48 cubic feet behind the second row and a usable 16 cubic feet behind the third row’s split-fold-flat seats, all accessible via an available hands-free tailgate.

Fun Fact 3: The Highlander is a concert hall on wheels. - Find the best Toyota deals!

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE Interior Dashboard

For those who require acoustic enjoyment to complete their driving experience, the Highlander has just the ticket. Maybe not a concert ticket, but the next best thing: a premium JBL audio system that pipes in music with 1,200 watts of power from all corners of the cabin. There are 11 speakers set in nine locations from front to back, delivering a balanced and full-bodied auditory experience whether you are sitting at the wheel or riding in the third row. 

The system also uses Clari-Fi technology to rebuild musical details lost in digital compression to recapture the original sound of the recorded audio track. That kind of authenticity is enough to make even the staunchest of musical purists happy.

The JBL system is available on the XSE trim level and standard on the Highlander Limited and Platinum models.

Fun Fact 4: The Highlander keeps you connected. In every way. - Find the best Toyota deals!

The three most important words in the automotive industry today are connectivity, connectivity, and connectivity, and the Highlander nails them all. The tech-savvy, smartphone-centric crossover offers multiple functionalities to keep passengers connected to the larger world around them. 

Standard features include Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, SiriusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Safety Connect service for one year. If the idea is to make the vehicle’s infotainment system a hub for communication, information, and media/entertainment, then mission accomplished.

Upgrades for the Highlander’s connected services technology include Service Connect to provide vehicle information and maintenance reminders and Remote Connect to access certain key vehicle features directly from your smartphone.

Fun Fact 5: The sporty, new Highlander XSE ups the driving fun factor. - Find the best Toyota deals!

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE Gray Side View

When it comes to driving, the newly added XSE trim level helps the Highlander take on curves and corners with a sport-tuned suspension for greater maneuverability and better handling. The performance-oriented setup includes lower-friction shocks, stiffer springs, and a rear stabilizer bar. And the Highlander XSE’s steering system is recalibrated for a more precise feel and response.

Driving dynamics may be the focus, but what’s a new trim level without some appearance upgrades? The Highlander XSE rides atop 20-inch alloy wheels while sporting twin-tip exhaust outlets and black roof rails for an edgier and more aggressive look. For those wanting some attitude in their SUV, look no further.

Toyota is the source of information in this article. It was accurate as of April 22, 2021, but it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.