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Edited by TrailDust
I thought I'd introduce myself here since I've been lurking for a while during the research period of my new Highlander. I picked up a 2016 Highlander XLE in gray with black interior and captain's seats. I paid $37.7k for it here in Massachusetts a couple weeks ago. I was able to work out a deal with the dealer to sell the stock Michelin tires back at their stock price. I had Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires put on at the recommendation of Tire Rack.
I've modded it so far by adding the HID headlights from xenon depot. I did the H11 kit with Philips 4300 bulbs. They went in fairly easily once I stopped trying to put them in the high beam plugs
. I installed the Kenwood DX9903s receiver based on the feedback I received about the built in navigation. I think the audio quality of the built in radio isn't bad and I think it's UI is fairly decent. It suffers from the same issues that most non-carplay receivers have when integrating with iPhones. It likes to play the very first song on the iPhone and doesn't always start playing music when you press play on the phone.
The Kenwood install wasn't too bad with help from Crutchfield. It's challenging because I installed it with the Maestro unit. You end up with several sets of instructions and it's hard to know which ones to follow. A few calls to Crutchfield helped solve these issues. The hardest parts were taking the dash apart, making about 20 wiring connections, and fitting it all into the dash.
My immediate reactions with the Kenwood unit is that the screen is smaller than the OEM version. However, the UI is better designed and the Carplay integration is flawless. I can start/stop music while listening to the radio without issue. The driving directions from Apple Maps come through perfectly. I was able to program the Maestro so that the up/down arrows go through my presets in the desired direction and the voice button activates Siri. I was skeptical about having an aftermarket bluetooth microphone. Clipping it right next to the bottom right corner of the odometer has proven to be unobtrusive. I've already forgotten that it's there and it works great. I don't think the satellite radio antenna is connected correctly. There were a few wires that didn't end up getting connected to the Kenwood unit that were connected to the OEM radio. I also wonder if I'm not getting quite as good FM radio reception. My gut tells me it's about 85-90% for some reason but I didn't drive around long enough without it to have a good baseline.
The other vehicles I considered when buying were the Honda Pilot and a BMW X3. My plan was to go for 3 year old BMW with 30k miles and pay about the same as the new highlander. In the end, there were none in the area that fit the profile I wanted so I went with the Highlander. I have to say, I wasn't real excited walking out of the Toyota dealership. However, after owning for a month now, this is a really nice vehicle. I was coming from a 2012 Nissan Murano SV. I like the handling of the Highlander better. The acceleration is better. I had no problem with the CVT in the MO and I expected going back to regular gears would not be as smooth. I definitely don't feel that way with the Highlander. The cargo capacity is impressive and I don't feel like I'm driving a bus. I'm looking forward to taking it out in the New England winter to see how it does in the snow.
I think the cost on this vehicle is extremely reasonable. I paid $37k for it and I project that after 4 years and 60k miles it'll be worth $18-20k. That puts my cost at about $5k per year which is very reasonable for a vehicle of this luxury.
My wife has one of the polluting VW diesels. We're getting a killer deal from VW to sell it back to them. Now, I have to decide if I want to put my wife into a Highlander or a Subaru Outback.