2017 Toyota Highlander: One of the top ‘family’ SUVs of the year

I love the Toyota Highlander. 

The interior always looks nice, even on the base models. The exterior always looks sleek and rugged and comes in eye-catching colors. There’s plenty of room inside for just about everything or everyone you need to move around town, or the planet. Combined mileage of 23 mpg is good for the class, and the Highlander starts at just over $30K.  What’s not to like?

That 23 mpg-combined mileage comes from an available V6, 3.5-liter DOHC engine that makes the car even more fun to drive.  The styling has been updated this year, which means the front is more pronounced and the rear is more stylish (sounds gay to me, right?). Gone are the days when sport utility vehicles looked like they were all venturing into the Australian bush accompanied by a pasty tour guide with a Downton Abbey accent and polyester safari khakis.  Today’s SUVs look like they’re ready for the coolest, hippest and most overeducated disaster response team in the region. Come to think of it, that’s how I would describe this year’s Highlander: ready for any emergency situation, so long as it’s not a fashion disaster.

Space-wise, this is a three-row model. That means you can safely get some of your kid’s soccer team buddies in the vehicle, along with your own children and pets. I wouldn’t call this a party bus, but it you regularly drive places with your three closest friends (like Grace and Will and Karen) this might be worth consideration. Still, I’d first check out smaller cars like the Fiat 500L or BMW X1 to see how all of you grownups (and food and beer in a cooler) will fit.

U.S. News and World Report, one of my favorite sources of real car news, ranks the Highlander Hybrid slightly higher than the gas-only Highlander.  At this point of excellence though, it all comes down to what’s important to you. There are so many talented competitors in this crowded midsized SUV market (e.g. Chevy Traverse, Nissan Murano) that if this size car is appealing to you, you really should test drive them all the see which one really grabs you. And if you’re like me and just want to spin the wheel and pick one, in this segment you could do that and always come home with a winner.

I thing the thing I like most about the 2017 Toyota Highlander is that it can be gay, bi, straight, lez, butch, gender non-conforming or conforming–anything you need it to be, because it is. There’s no pretense here: The Highlander is all those things and more.

Basically, the Highlander can’t be put in a box, even when it is a Soft Kitty.