2002 Toyota Highlander 2.4L 4 cylinder from North America
This isn't my father's Toyota. Seems like Hyundai has become the Toyota of the 80's and early 90's
Replaced valve cover gaskets at 77,000 miles.
Replaced power steering pump at 98,000 miles.
Replaced A/C condenser at 100,000 miles.
Battery replaced at 55,000 and 90,000 miles - both times left me stranded... A Toyota battery of course that credited me nothing when I replaced it, because I couldn't prove when it had been installed. I have the receipt for the date of purchase, but they get you, because if you install it yourself, you get nothing to prove when it was installed, which is also based on mileage. So my little battery that says it has a 60 month 60,000 warranty - it's a load of garbage. Toyota clearly cannot make a battery (my Nissan batteries, yes, in Florida, used to last 5-6 years and I changed them preemptively).
Do some research on the Toyota 2AZFE 2.4L engine and you'll find that many people have stripped out 3 rear head bolts on the engine and nobody really knows why. I've talked to Toyota's national customer service line, and they say it's due to overheating the engine, but the consensus online seems to be different. I know the Internet can be a nice fun rumor mill, but I read enough to at least determine that this is a risk - most likely I'll be selling/trading this vehicle in to avoid the problem, but when I had the power steering pump done, I had the water pump, thermostat, upper and lower radiator hoses and radiator cap all replaced. Radiator showed no signs of leaking at all - my car is always garage kept and the engine bay kept clean.
A side note would be that I've always used Amsoil 5w30 and either Amsoil or Wix filters, always had fluids changed at dealership ahead of schedule, NGK Iridium plugs only, and always driven with a light foot.
I would just say that this is the quirkiest car I've owned in the way it idles and downshifts, and it feels like I can't abuse it at all; truth is I'm afraid to own the car - seems like there are tons of people who have reported the symptoms I've experienced when they've happened, and fixing those are never cheap.
I thought that this being a Toyota built in Japan, it would be a step ahead in the quality control department, and it's just been a very expensive car to own in terms of maintenance and preventative maintenance.
Final thought: I was the reviewer who a couple years ago said "If I could do it all over again, I'd buy two." Clearly my attitude has changed. I've owned a 2001 Camry, this Highlander, leased an 03 Camry, and owned a 99 ES 300, and we recently purchased a Honda Pilot. My loyalty for Toyota is gone (independent of any recalls on TV - my engine block being at risk to strip out bugs me just a little more than a stuck gas pedal) and I'll look at Honda, Hyundai, Ford and Subaru next time around.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 30th June, 2010