The 2019 Toyota Highlander is an attractive SUV that has pretty good towing capabilities, but not every trim is made the same. After reading this detailed guide, you may realize that purchasing the highest trim isn’t worth it.
The LE is the base model 2019 Toyota Highlander. It has a starting MSRP of $31,830 and comes standard with a FWD 2.7L 4-cylinder engine. The base engine can get up to 20 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, but it’s not the only choice. You can upgrade to a 3.5L V6 with FWD also. This will slightly improve your highway mileage to 27 mpg. If you’re looking for a vehicle that can tow, you may be happy to hear that the Highlander LE can haul up to 1,500 pounds when properly equipped.
On the exterior, the Highlander LE sits on 18-inch machined alloy wheels. The Highlander LE also comes with daytime running lights and automatic halogen smoked-chrome accent headlights. Inside, the SUV comes with Entune Audio, which includes a 6.1-inch, high-resolution touch-screen display, AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3 playback capability, six-total speakers, auxiliary audio jack, and a USB port. Unfortunately, none of the 2019 Toyota Highlander models have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. To us, that seems like a major oversight.
Safety for the Highlander LE is top-notch and includes a rearview camera, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alerts with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control. There are also lots of electronic features to assist with stability control.
The 2019 Highlander LE also has a hybrid option that has an all-wheel-drive 3.5-liter V6 ECVT hybrid engine that gets up to 30 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. It has a starting MSRP of $37,520 but adds more than just an environmental aspect. It also has a Smart Key System on the front doors and liftgate with Push Button Start. Other than this, there are a few changes, but there is one difference in the Star Safety System. The Hybrid LE includes electronically controlled braking (not found on the base LE) but lacks the enhanced vehicle stability control of the non-hybrid model.
The 2019 Toyota Highlander LE Plus is the next step up with a starting MSRP of $36,760. It comes standard with the 3.5-liter V6 engine that’s optional on the Highlander LE, and it can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.
The exterior doesn’t change much. It adds fog lights, a power liftgate, and a flip-up rear hatch window. On the inside, the Highlander LE Plus includes Entune Audio Plus with Connected Navigation, which increases the screen size to eight inches. The Highlander LE Plus also does not include a smart key system or push-button start.
The 2019 Toyota Highlander XLE is the next trim and improves the interior quite a bit. It has a starting MSRP of $39,720 and has the same engine as the Highlander LE Plus trim, meaning it also has the same towing capabilities.
The major exterior changes are the addition of Chromtec roof rails and a power moonroof. The inside gives you Entune Premium Audio with integrated navigation and app suite. This means the navigation is installed into the vehicle along with other apps like Pandora, which are accessible using Driver Easy Speak.
The other changes with the Highlander XLE include leather-trimmed front and second-row seating, the reappearance of the smart key system, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts. The second-row seating defaults to captain’s chairs, but you can upgrade to a 60/40 split-folding bench. The front seats are also heated.
The 2019 Highlander XLE also has a hybrid option which has a starting MSRP of $42,580. It has the same engine as the Hybrid LE, although Toyota lists the fuel economy for the Hybrid XLE as getting up to 29 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. There are few other changes compared to the Highlander XLE and most are cosmetic like the addition of mud flaps. One significant upgrade from the non-hybrid model is that the second row of seats defaults to the 60/40 split-bench. We suggest this option as the best bang for your buck for most buyers.
The 2019 Toyota Highlander SE has a starting price of $40,940 and exhibits primarily cosmetic changes when compared to the Highlander XLE. On the exterior, the Highlander SE sits higher on 19-inch machined alloy wheels with black finish and black center caps. It also has dark-painted roof rails rather than chrome. The interior changes include the addition of leatherette on the armrest area and blue LED ambient lighting on the interior of the front and rear doors. The Highlander SE also comes with a sport-tuned suspension which is, in all honesty, a little out of place for a family SUV.
The 2019 Toyota Highlander Limited suffers the same issues as the Highlander SE—few changes for an upgrade in price. The Highlander Limited has a starting MSRP of $42,930 and is pretty light on exterior changes. You get Chromtec alloy wheels and roof rails. On the inside, the Highlander Limited’s backup camera gets an upgrade. It comes with dynamic gridlines to make reversing easier.
The biggest benefit is the addition of Entune Premium JBL Audio with integrated navigation and app suite. This audio system includes HD radio with 12 JBL GreenEdge speakers, which provide a clearer sound than the standard speakers in the SE.
The 2019 Limited also has a hybrid option for $46,060. It has the same engine as the other hybrids. The Highlander Hybrid Limited has everything the non-hybrid model includes without adding much extra. It includes the classic hybrid accents, like the blue accent badges and black mud flaps. There’s not really much else that sets it apart beyond the hybrid engine.
(Featured image via Facebook)