2002 Toyota Highlander 3.2 from North America


Toyota quality and reliability is a myth


At least 5 different mechanics, including a Toyota dealer, cannot figure out why there is a smell of raw gas in the car when it idles.

Over $7000 worth of repairs made in the past two years (transmission, front end, various engine issues).

General Comments:

This is my wife's car and she has driven it since new. I have also driven my 2003 Trailblazer since new, and it has been trouble free over the same mileage.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th February, 2009

2002 Toyota Highlander N/A 2.4L I4 from North America


If I could do it all over again, I'd buy TWO


We replaced the brake pads at 65,000 miles - brakes were squeaking pretty bad, but the previous owner had put aftermarket pads on (OEM's fixed the problem and it brakes like a dream now).

Had the oil pan gasket and valve cover gasket replaced at 71,000 miles - probably leaking due to my switch to synthetic oil. Leaks were not bad - more like seeping; this repair was mainly preventative. No problems at all since.

General Comments:

I love this car. We previously had an 03 Camry which was leased - we wanted to buy our next car, but as good Clark Howard listeners decided to find a nice used one. Loved the engine on the '03 Camry, just hated the way it drove - felt like a Buick or something - had lost any sportiness! But that engine (the VVT-i 2.4L engine) was awesome - it purred and had great torque - didn't feel like a 4 cylinder, so we saw the Highlander had it and went after one of those.

The car sits high like an SUV, but drives as smooth as a car...it's got a ton of room for storage in the back, although I think newer Highlanders have a 3rd row seat now which blows my mind - this is not a 7 passenger-sized vehicle!!

Anyway, it starts everytime; it drives like a dream; I maintain it and baby it like it's my own kid... I clean the engine probably once a week and wash it probably every 5 days - I'm proud of this car if you can't tell.

Some upgrades I've done on it...

1) I switched to Amsoil oil and filters immediately

2) K&N air filter

3) 4 new Michelin Cross-Terrain tires (the standard Goodyear Integrity tires are the absolute pits) - this was a very good investment!

4) new PCV valve and PCV hose (after cleaning the idle control valve I just wanted to take any precaution to prevent carbon buildup

5) new plugs, coolant flush, brake system flush, tranny flush - all preventative.

Finally, the Highlander is actually built in Japan. My parents have a 1991 Toyota Previa van that was built in Japan. It was 200k + miles on it and other than oil changes and a sunroof motor, the only thing they've ever done on the van was a drive shaft which is common on those. I believe that the build quality of Japanese built Toyotas is unmatched. Toyota also builds all the Lexus models in Japan as well as the Land Cruiser, the Prius and the 4 Runner... how often do you hear about problems with those cars? Case in point.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th May, 2007

20th May 2007, 11:38

If the bottom portion of this review doesn't shout BOGUS then I don't know what does...

20th May 2007, 17:20

How is it BOGUS? I have heard of japanese cars running for 250000+ and myself owned a 93 civic that was still running fine at 190000 when I sold it. Unless you have some info on the location of the factories or something that the author got wrong I don't see anything bogus about it.

2002 Toyota Highlander AWD Limited 3.0L Gas from North America


Another awesome appliance-like SUV from Toyota


Minor transmission fluid leak.

General Comments:

English is not my first language but I’ll try to be as precise and expressive in this review as possible.

I was in the market for a BMW/Audi/MB/Volvo when a dealer suggested the Toyota Highlander to me. I was never a big fan of Toyota, not that I think it’s a bad make, but it’s just a practical car, does the job with minimal maintenance (coming from family members and friends who owned Toyotas). I’m not very impressed with the interior nor the exterior design of Toyota, looks and feels plain, not a “head turner” as they say. But this one was kind of different.

Well, to cut the story short, my wife suggested we give it a ride, see how we feel about it. The moment we went inside the car, we loved it. Spacious, seats are comfortable, the view was very clear, dashboard controls are very clear and easy to operate. When driving, you can barely hear the engine (we drove 80km/h+), although you could hear some noise from the tires.

I got the Limited AWD edition, heated leather seats, sunroof, tainted windows, in-dash CD Changer, Vehicle Skid Control, ABS, Traction Control, alloy wheels and all the good stuff. The car had 140,000km on it (I couldn’t afford less) and considering this is a 2002, this seems to be a lot, however, the car drove and felt like new.

I bought it 2 months ago, and it has over 153,000 clicks on it already (I drive mostly on highways and that’s why I was looking for a comfortable and somehow safe car).

Gas consumption wise, just OK. Averages 11.3 liter/100km (70% highway driving 130km/h+) which is not really bad, considering this is a 4WD with 3.0L 6cyl engine. Handling is not bad either, it has a good grip on the road and very smooth and steady cornering (between 70-90km/h).

The car is somewhat rough compared to sedans, and I say this because I noticed many reviews comparing it to the Camry (some believe it’s a magnified Camry). Definitely it is not a truck-based SUV, rather I see it as van-based. This car is not designed for off-road trips, it would perform off-road way better than a van surely, but not better than the 4Runner or Ford Explorer for example.

Maintenance wise, I’m very satisfied, Toyota tends to simplify things for mechanics and electricians (maybe more for their own mechanics), if you look under the engine hood for example, you will see a simple engine that looks like a junior mechanic can disassemble and re-assemble in couple of hours. That’s one thing I like about Toyotas.

A bit underpowered? Might be true, but hey, this is a 3L engine on a big car that was designed I believe to save some money on gas ;-) For me this is no problem at all, the power this engine has is more than enough for my driving purposes.

Oh one other thing, I’m impressed by the sound system it has, decent JBL speakers with from tweeters, finally a “decent” sound system on a Toyota!

In few words, Toyota Highlander is a tight, safe and reliable SUV/VAN that saves money on gas and maintenance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th November, 2006

17th Nov 2006, 15:07

While not a huge fan of Toyota's myself, I must say you have done a great job on this review, nice job!

21st May 2010, 16:22

Actually, the Highlander IS based off of the Camry. Almost every vehicle (outside of the pickups and truck-based SUVs) in Toyota's lineup uses a variant of the Camry platform (as well as it's engines).

Talk about a versatile platform!