2021 Toyota Highlander Price, Value, Ratings & Reviews | Kelley Blue Book (2023)

The 2021 Toyota Highlander 3-row midsize SUV is in the second year of its fourth generation. It continues a grand tradition of being a best seller, even when there are rivals like the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Kia Telluride, and Hyundai Palisade in contention.

This fresh Highlander isn’t particularly innovative, but it doesn’t need to be. Its winning approach has always been to provide decent space for families, well-integrated and user-friendly features, excellent drivetrains, and solid dependability.

Slotting between the XLE and Limited trim levels, the new-for-2021 Highlander XSE brings a sportier attitude. It has 20-inch wheels, a firmer suspension, and an optional torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system that can apportion power between the rear wheels for more efficient (and more entertaining) cornering.

For a 35-mpg look at the Highlander, check out our 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review.

Used 2021 Toyota Highlander Pricing

The Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price for any individual used vehicle can vary greatly according to mileage, condition, location, and other factors, but here's a general idea of what buyers are currently paying for used 2021 Toyota Highlander models when purchasing from a dealership.

Original MSRP

KBB Fair Purchase Price (nat'l average)

L Sport Utility 4D

$37,860

$33,210

LE Sport Utility 4D

$40,060

$31,868

XLE Sport Utility 4D

$42,860

$35,721

XSE Sport Utility 4D

$44,805

$39,085

Limited Sport Utility 4D

$47,515

$38,566

Platinum Sport Utility 4D

$50,715

$43,481

For reference, the 2021 Toyota Highlander originally had a starting sticker price of $37,860, with the range-topping Highlander Platinum Sport Utility 4D starting at $50,715.

Which Model is Right for Me?

2021 Toyota Highlander L

8-inch touchscreen
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5
8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
Tri-zone automatic climate control
LED headlights

(Video) 2021 Toyota Highlander vs 2021 Kia Telluride | Comparison

2021 Toyota Highlander LE

Powered tailgate w/height adjustment
Blind-spot monitoring w/rear cross-traffic alert
HD radio
LED fog lights
Leather-wrapped steering wheel

2021 Toyota Highlander XLE

Simulated leather upholstery
10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
Heated front seats
2nd-row captain’s chairs
Powered moonroof

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE

Sport-tuned suspension & steering
20-inch alloy wheels
Twin-tip exhaust system
Black roof rails/side mirror housings/window trim
Ambient cabin lighting

2021 Toyota Highlander Limited

Leather upholstery
JBL premium audio with navigation
Hands-free tailgate operation
Heated/ventilated front seats

(Video) The Highlander gets an IMPORTANT UPDATE!!

2021 Toyota Highlander Platinum

12.3-inch touchscreen
360-degree camera system
Digital rearview mirror
Head-up display
Panoramic moonroof

Driving the Used 2021 Toyota Highlander

Flying along the freeway or commuting in the city, the 2021 Toyota Highlander feels impressively smooth and stable. With 295 horsepower, the standard V6 engine has noticeably more verve than comparable rivals.

When front-wheel drive is in the picture, go easy on the accelerator, or the front tires might squeal, and there could be some torque steer as those wheels try to apply that muscle to the tarmac. This isn’t an issue with all-wheel drive.

The all-wheel-drive system in the L, LE, and XLE trims can send up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels when slip is detected. In all-wheel-drive variants of the higher trims, there’s a more sophisticated torque-vectoring system that can split power precisely between the rear wheels.

Interior Comfort

The 2021 Highlander is the epitome of user-friendliness. With the standard 8-inch touchscreen or the 12.3-inch alternative, no one needs a degree in software engineering to operate it. Controls for audio, climate, and other functions are similarly easy.

The seats are comfortable, even the cloth-covered ones in the lower trims. And the stitched-leather interior of the Highlander Platinum could almost pass for a Lexus.

(Video) 2023 Toyota Highlander | Review & Road Test

With a bench in the second row, the Highlander seats up to eight. The L and LE trims are solely 8-seaters; XLE and Limited models come with a pair of captain’s chairs in row two, reducing the occupant count to seven, but the 8-seater configuration is available at no extra cost. Platinum trim is strictly a 7-seater.

Adults have plenty of space in the second row. The third row (not a traditional Highlander strength) has slightly more room than the previous generation, but still less than the Honda Pilot. It remains best for kids.

Cargo space is impressive. A usable 16 cubic feet behind the rear seat is enough for several bags of groceries. That swells to over 48 cubic feet with the third row folded, or over 84 cubic feet when both the second and third rows are laid flat.

Exterior Styling

There’s probably a rule that every new vehicle generation has to be bigger than its predecessor. This new Highlander has grown a couple of inches in wheelbase and overall length, which brings more cabin space and should contribute to a smoother ride quality.

From a stretched-looking front fascia housing LED headlights to a prominent character line that begins near the middle of the front wheels, extends up through the rear doors, and flows over the back wheels, it’s an arguably tidy shape overall.

The lower three trims roll on 18-inch alloy wheels; 20-inch alloys are standard on the XSE, Limited, and Platinum.

Favorite Features

12.3-INCH TOUCHSCREEN
Not only is this 12.3-inch touchscreen the biggest in its class, it’s also bright, crisp, and capable of displaying a wealth of information like navigation and climate side by side. It’s optional in the Limited trim and standard in the Platinum model.

Standard Features

The 2021 Toyota Highlander comes in L, LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum.

Even the base Highlander L is equipped generously, including an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, LED projector headlights, tri-zone climate control, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Amazon Alexa compatibility, satellite radio, four USB ports, and keyless entry/ignition.

All 2021 Highlanders come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 array of driver aids bringing forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and Lane Tracing Assist (keeping the Highlander centered in lanes when adaptive cruise control is engaged). Toyota Care (2 years/25,000 miles of complimentary maintenance) is also included.

Factory Options

Families on a tighter budget will find the L absolutely workable. But for an extra $2,200, LE trim adds features like a powered tailgate with adjustable height, blind-spot monitoring, HD radio, LED fog lights, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The Highlander XLE adds heated and power-adjustable front seats (10-way for the driver, 4-way for the passenger), powered moonroof, simulated leather upholstery, 7-inch digital instrument cluster, and 2nd-row sunshades. Limited trim brings real leather with wood trim, heated/ventilated front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, navigation, and a premium JBL audio system.

The range-topping Highlander Platinum has a 12.3-inch touchscreen, 360-degree camera system, head-up display, heated 2nd-row seats, panoramic sunroof, and a digital rearview camera that offers both a traditional mirror or digital image. All-wheel drive is optional throughout the range.

(Video) 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander | First Drive

Engine & Transmission

The Highlander has a 3.5-liter V6 making 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque, which is ideal for propelling a fully loaded midsize 3-row SUV/crossover. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends that energy to the front wheels (FWD) in standard form. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.

The V6-powered 2021 Highlander has a tow rating of 5,000 pounds.

3.5-liter V6
295 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
263 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (FWD), 20/27 mpg (AWD)

KBB Vehicle Review and Rating Methodology

Our Expert Ratings come from hours of both driving and number crunching to make sure that you choose the best car for you. We comprehensively experience and analyze every new SUV, car, truck, or minivan for sale in the U.S. and compare it to its competitors. When all that dust settles, we have our ratings.

We require new ratings every time an all-new vehicle or a new generation of an existing vehicle comes out. Additionally, we reassess those ratings when a new-generation vehicle receives a mid-cycle refresh — basically, sprucing up a car in the middle of its product cycle (typically, around the 2-3 years mark) with a minor facelift, often with updates to features and technology.

Rather than pulling random numbers out of the air or off some meaningless checklist, KBB’s editors rank a vehicle to where it belongs in its class. Before any car earns its KBB rating, it must prove itself to be better (or worse) than the other cars it’s competing against as it tries to get you to spend your money buying or leasing.

Our editors drive and live with a given vehicle. We ask all the right questions about the interior, the exterior, the engine and powertrain, the ride and handling, the features, the comfort, and of course, about the price. Does it serve the purpose for which it was built? (Whether that purpose is commuting efficiently to and from work in the city, keeping your family safe, making you feel like you’ve made it to the top — or that you’re on your way — or making you feel like you’ve finally found just the right partner for your lifestyle.)

We take each vehicle we test through the mundane — parking, lane-changing, backing up, cargo space and loading — as well as the essential — acceleration, braking, handling, interior quiet and comfort, build quality, materials quality, reliability.

More About How We Rate Vehicles

(Video) 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review | Buy It or Pass?

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4. 2023 Toyota Highlander Review // Is the new engine any good?
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6. 2022 Toyota Highlander | Family Review
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