Automotive Review: 2009 Toyota Highlander SR5 Sport

Rating: 3.7 Out of 5

The Toyota Highlander SR5 Sport seems like your standard mid-sized crossover from 2009. However, it’s a little bit more than that. 

Under the hood, it has a 270-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and five-speed automatic transmission. This car can get it moving if need be; however, this isn’t a BMW X-6. The V6 turns out 270 hp at 6,200 RPM, and 249 lb.-ft of torque at 4,700 RPM. It gets around 17/23 (city/highway) mpg. There is also a  hybrid version of this vehicle that will get better mileage. All the non-hybrid trim levels have the same 3.5-liter V6. With all the top features, this Highlander can tow 5,000 pounds. The 3.5 V6 is a highly reliable engine; Toyota’s engineering is not lacking in quality here. Over the 10 years that this vehicle has been driving around, it has not needed any out-of-the-ordinary maintenance. The only issue the engine has had when I was test driving it was the timing belt was loose (this rubber belt has seen some better days).

Comfort is average, but it’s more in the quality of the parts then anything new or groundbreaking. The 2009 Highlander has your standard power locks, windows, mirrors, steering, AM/FM radio with aux port, A/C and heating, and mostly what one would expect in a crossover from 2009. My only complaint would be the unconventional position of the switch to adjust the power mirrors (on the dash to the left of the steering wheel vs the standard on the driver side door armrest), but it’s just a minor annoyance. The quality of the parts doesn’t leave anything to wish for. For having been around 10 years, none of the parts or seats feel like they are about to fall off or like cheap plastic. The seats are comfortable, but if you are tall like me, there might be some leg space issues depending on the arrangement. The owner of the car installed a subwoofer, and it’s a nice upgrade to the audio system of the car. Its stock audio system is not too bad; however, it isn’t anything top of the line. A/C and heat functions like it should, and has a pretty good range instead of just hot or cold settings. All in all, the comfort of the 2009 Toyota Highlander SR5 Sport is standard, however it is not lacking.

The 2009 Toyota Highlander SR5 Sport is a very safe car for its class. Having all wheel disk brakes with ABS, traction control, and a whole slew of other features it makes sure your wheels are gripping the road. With that and a solid airbag system, it’s a safe ride. The airbags include driver and front passenger advanced airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, three-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag. The Highlander received four and five stars in front and side impact tests, respectively. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Highlander four out of five on a rollover test, the highest in its class. Overall, it is a car you can feel safe in, knowing Toyota put in hard work for its safety features.

And for driving it, I had a pleasant experience. There isn’t too much to complain about, although it’s nothing exciting. Off-roading is fun, but on-road is uneventful. The accelerator and break aren’t touchy but plenty responsive. The power steering makes you feel like you have control, but sometimes if feels a little aloof on roads, there isn’t enough feel for the road. It has a decently tight turning radius for its size, not much to complain. Parking is a breeze, although I never tested parallel parking in since I couldn’t find a spot. Hard breaking from 40 mph was solid: none of the wheels locked up due to ABS and I still had control. Overall, being behind the wheel is not exciting. It’s a nice drive, but uneventful. 

All in all, the 2009 Toyota Highlander is a solid crossover. For everything from your home to class, Prescott to Las Vegas, to the grocery store, and some off-roading, the Highlander does it all. A pretty nice car for a college student like ourselves. 

And for those engineer types who want to see some raw numbers, here they are: 

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front- or 4-wheel-drive, 5-7-passenger, 5-door wagon
ENGINE: 3.5L DOHC 24-valve VVT-i V6 engineSAE Net Horsepower @ RPM : 270 @ 6200SAE Net Torque @ RPM : 248 @ 4700Fuel System : EFIFuel Type: Gasoline (Mogas)
ESTIMATED BASE PRICE: $26,500-$36,000TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting, continuously variable automatic
DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 109.8 in Length: 188.4 in Width: 75.2 in Height: 68.1-69.3 inCurb weight: 4000-4650 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):Zero to 60 mph: 7.3-7.5 secStanding ¼-mile: 15.5-16.0 sec
PROJECTED FUEL ECONOMY (MFR’S EST):2008 EPA city driving: 17-27 mpg2008 EPA highway driving: 23-25 mpg

Citation: 2009 Toyota Highlander Features and Specs. (2009). Retrieved from