Four-Cylinder Toyota Highlander Rated at 27 MPG


Toyota announced a couple months back that it would produce a four-cylinder version of its Highlander crossover. Today, the company has published some of the specs behind the newest model. The new Highlander is powered by a 187-hp, 2.7-liter four-cylinder with 186 pounds-feet of torque. It’s mated to an all-new six-speed automatic transmission. This is the same engine and transmission in the new Venza, and with good reason; Toyota’s K-platform underpins the Venza, Highlander and Camry, so putting the new engine in these models is cost-effective for the company. It also gets good mileage.

The new Highlander has received EPA fuel-economy estimates of 20/27 mpg city/highway (22 mpg combined), which is great for a midsize crossover. The newest Highlander is rated 2 mpg better than the V-6 Highlander in the combined cycle. The crossover also blows its competitors (Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda Pilot) out of the water, mainly because those cars feature more-powerful power plants. As of now, the four-cylinder Highlander is only planned as a front-wheel-drive model.

Toyota says to expect noise and vibration levels similar to the V-6 Highlander, which is pretty quiet. Acceleration is adequate, at 9.7 seconds in 0-60 mph testing, which isn’t bad for a 4,000-pound vehicle. The four-cylinder has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds and can seat seven when properly equipped. All of this sounds nearly identical to the Venza that senior editor David Thomas recently tested. In that car, Thomas found the four-cylinder engine merely adequate in terms of acceleration.

Pricing wasn’t announced, but the current base price of a V-6 Highlander is $27,600. Taking the Venza as an example, the difference between the V-6 and the all-new four-cylinder powertrain is approximately $1,800. That kind of thinking puts the two models in nearly identical price ranges.

This fuel-efficient Highlander couldn’t come at a better time for Toyota, with the crossover’s sales down nearly 30% for the month and 12% for the year since its full redesign. The inline-four model should show up at dealerships in mid-to-late January, about the same time the four-cylinder Venza goes on sale.

By Colin Bird | November 5, 2008 | Comments (17)
Tags: Toyota



This is good for Toyota. I don't think anyone who has purchased a Highlander has really NEEDED a V-6. I've never seen a boat behind a Highlander and adequate acceleration is all one really needs. It's impressive that engine technology has gotten to the point that a 4 cylinder motor is more than adequate in an SUV.


Of course this should blow the competitors away. It is only making 187hp from that 2.7L
The CX-7 comes with a 2.3L turbo making 244hp, the Pilot comes with a 3.5L V6 making 350hp.
They are not even in the same category anymore. Just like comparing a V6 Camry to a I4 Accord.

One more slow ass toyota on the road for me to have to dodge.


The gearing is a smidge too tall to be satisfactory.

So the only recourse an owner has is to fit slightly smaller tires, 255/60 17 in lieu of the stock 245/65 17. (about 1.5% smaller)
They will fit fine on the stock 7.5" wide wheels, and an extra 5mm shouldn't impinge on the clearance, and there is a far greater selection of tires in that size.

All seasons that qualify as winter-snow tires


Pilot makes 250, not 350HP

BTW, its the torque that accelerates your car. And 186 pounds-feet of torque is a good number.

Think pre-2008 EPA ratings. The Highlander whould be in 23/29mpg!

If you buy Highlander you don't think sport. Family, utility, comfort.

But getting passed by everyone else.

I am totally hooked to the new Venza right now. The only thing is going to make me buy a highlander instead of the Venza is the 3rd row. I end up hauling things AND people at the same time. But if toyota made a 3 row Venza (which probably won't happen) i would buy it imeadeatly.
Anti-SUV movement!!
I want a 3rd row.

Dang, that's a huge 4-cylinder. Isn't that the largest displacement of a 4-cylinder on the market today?


I don't know what all you haters are talking about saying that the vehicle is too underpowered. That is a problem with American consumers and why we burn as much fuel as we do. You don't need 300hp to get a small family to school or take a road trip. This I4 should have no problem doing 85mph which is faster than you really need to go. Think back a few years, GM's legendary 3800 Series 3.8L V6 made barely more power than this. Life is not a race, if you push the pedal, you will get up to speed as quickly as anyone needs to.


I used to drive Chevy 5.7L Cargo van. What a rocket that was! I would smoke Maximas and Accords. I went 100mph sweet. But it was shutting on me at that speed......

Really, why do we need to race? Why do we need to change lanes in the face of others? Lets keep it safe, smooth and nice. It doesn't matter how fast car accellerates. It is all about technique. If you know that your car needs more time to get up to speed then you start earlier. This is it. All it takes when you drive a car is cool head calculation!


"Think back a few years, GM's legendary 3800 Series 3.8L V6 made barely more power than this. Life is not a race, if you push the pedal, you will get up to speed as quickly as anyone needs to."

This isnt an acceptable level of power for a vehicle that is probably about 4200lbs. GM's cars with the 3800 were about 3450lbs and that V6 had 225 lb-ft of torque which is considerablr more than this four cylinder. If the Highlander can get that kind of mileage with such high curb weight the gearing must be for fuel economy and the acceleration will be poor. The Accord with 190hp needs about 8.2 secs to get to 60 and weighs about 3400lbs. Add 700lbs and watch that 0-6o time climb to about 10secs.


There is no way that this is 4200lbs, more like 3850-3950lbs.
It is front wheel drive only.

The gearing could/should be shorter, by about five percent.
2nd gear goes to about 59mph, so you have to include the upshift to 3rd gear for the 0-60 time.


current FWD Highlander is 3979lbs. I would expect about 250 lb drop, to 37xx pounds



I doubt a change in engine is going to lead to a 250lb drop. Even if it does 3700lbs isnt light for a four cylinder equipped vehicle. The four cylinder Vue weighs about 3900lbs. The Malibu is one of the heaviest midsize cars and the I4 model is about 3400-3500lbs and it needs 8.6secs to get to 60. You will be lucky to be under 9.5 with the Highlander.



when I read famous small 4x4/AWD SUV comparison test from "Car and driver", the pointed that VUE was the heaviest in the test by about 300 lb.

"I doubt a change in engine is going to lead to a 250lb drop"

I think, it will. Because with 4 cyl you drop half of the block and head, pistons, cams, crank... Your exhaust system is more compact and lighter because now is only one manifold and your intake is not as deliberate. You use less of everything - tubing, piping wiring, fluids.
I just compared V6 RAV4 and I4 RAV4. The difference is 130lb. But it is also depends if the 6cyl same trim has any additional options. So, I may be wrong about 250 but using RAV4 as precedent it is about 150 in the engine bay alone.


"You will be lucky to be under 9.5 with the Highlander."
Why is anyone comparing 0-60 times? It clearly says in the article that the Highlander does it in 9.7 seconds. It doesn't matter what an Accord or Malibu can do.

These are some great figures for such a large vehicle. The Scion xB gets 22/28 with 158. I'm surprised the Highlander has so much more power and weight, yet still manages 20/27.


Someone in here said no one tows a boat. Well I do and looking to buy a Highlander V6. My Buddy Iggy, picked up a 4 cyl, He Tows a 17.5 Boat with a 4 stroke 100HP Yamaha. Which are heavy. total load 2,500. Thankfully we live in Flat land Miami. Yet he towed to Naples. Said car struggled. Even dough towing capacity is 3,500 lbs. Just him & Wife. Some luggage. The idea for me. I want to have the Highlander until the wheels fall. Yet not stopping me from towing my boat& small camper. That I take to North Carolina. If my Odyssey was able to tow camper up to Boone NC. Then I expect Highlander to do the same. Some of you are really not comparing apples to apples. More Like apples to oranges. But Thanks for the insight..Peace

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