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Just bought a 2010 Highlander Base 4WD (AWD). Drove it on a 200 mile trip, my wife and I each driving 100 miles on good but curving, up and down, mountain roads that we have driven many times before with our other Toyota's. We like the HL vehicle, but our biggest disappointment is the rather vague, wandering, somewhat jittery, annoying steering, that you have to stay on top of. The HL steering / handling is considerably worse than our 1999 4Runner, 2006 Solara, or 2006 Tundra. Researching this, this seems to be a somewhat common complaint on the base Highlander, and that the Sport and Limited have better handling, with stiffer springs and suspension. Is there anyway that we can economically upgrade the steering / suspension? Thanks -- LJ
 

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Keeps you awake.

Welcome to electric power steering. Some automakers allow sensitivity changes. Toyota could learn from VW's electric steering.

Dealers here were clueless.

Complain to the dealer. But, they can't help.

My Limited might handle better, but the steering still sux.
 

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I drove a Limited and a Sport before we purchased. I liked the Sport much better. The steering feels very connected compared to the Limited. I imagine the Base is feels very spongy. Coming from a '98 Blazer that drove like crap the Sport feels like a performance sedan. It is the best handling vehicle I've ever owned.

The differences are that the Limited only has the lower profile wheels and tires while the Sport has stiffer struts(maybe sway bars) too.

You could replace all of the struts, but it'd cost you about $1000 to do it.



Chris
 

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We have a Sport, I never drove the base or Limited so I can't really give my opinion on the difference (if any). I found the steering to be very floaty as well. I happened to upgrade my tires to Bridgestone Dueler Alenza in 255/55/19 which have a significantly stiffer sidewall and it took care of any of the vague steering feel without being stiff.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your replies. The HL came with the stock Toyos -- I hear both good and bad about them. Its hard to describe the steering issue. It constantly either angles to the left or to the right; I am not able to correct it to the center, even when trying to move the steering wheel the least amount possible. On a straight level road, move it the smallest increment to the left I can, it steers into the center line; move it the smallest increment to the right I can, it steers towards off the road. It doesn't pull specifically to either direction when I take my hands off the steering wheel, just continues on its left or right path. I am constantly trying to correct the steering to keep it in the middle of the road. It is not a severe angle, but I must consciously keep on top of it to keep in the middle of the right lane -- quite annoying, if not unsafe. None of our other Toyotas do this (1999 4Runner. 2006 Solara, 2006 Tundra, or the 2003 high mileage Tundra I just traded in towards the HL). Perhaps, as said earlier, this is due to the electronic steering, which our earlier vehicles do not have. I will take the HL back to the dealer when I get time, and see if there is anything they can do. I will first ask them to do a wheel alignment and see if that has any effect, then perhaps change the tires. If we can't get this fixed, we will soon be dumping this vehicle. We bought this vehicle because of all the great reviews it has rcd from consumer reports and various forums. But right now, we are quite disappointed. --LJ
 

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Not denying you have problems with your steering, but just adding my own observation that with my Base model the steering has always been rock steady, straight, and true. I've never had a complaint with my HL's steering. I think you need to have your dealer take a look at it, and if necessary take it to another dealer if they claim there's nothing wrong with it.
 

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Not denying you have problems with your steering, but just adding my own observation that with my Base model the steering has always been rock steady, straight, and true. I've never had a complaint with my HL's steering. I think you need to have your dealer take a look at it, and if necessary take it to another dealer if they claim there's nothing wrong with it.
What the OP is describing is the result of a softer sidewall causing a vague/floaty/wandering feeling.

Going to a different tire will resolve this.
 

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What the OP is describing is the result of a softer sidewall causing a vague/floaty/wandering feeling.

Going to a different tire will resolve this.
Gotcha. :thumbsup: I've never had a set of tires do that to me, but it's obviously a good thing to keep your eyes out for when purchasing a new set of tires.
 

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Gotcha. :thumbsup: I've never had a set of tires do that to me, but it's obviously a good thing to keep your eyes out for when purchasing a new set of tires.
A T rated tire will be a lot softer than a Z rated. You'll see Z rated on sports car, translating into a more direct road feel which is necessary at the below speeds. My stock tires (245/55/19) were Bridgestone Dueler H/L 400 which were S rated, my replacement (255/55/19) are Bridgestone Dueler Alenza which are V rated.

The difference in feel was immediate. Steering response was a lot more direct. You'll see when you upgrade :thumbsup:

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Again, thanks for your inputs. Regarding the possibility of getting better tires, are you suggesting that I go to 19" rims as well as getting a "stiffer" tire? The 17 inch Bridgestone Alenza, as shown on tire rack, appear to be T rated, not V rated. Will the 19" perform that much better? Thanks -- LJ
 

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If you have the stock Toyo A20s ANY tire will provide an improvement regardless of the speed rating. If you have 17" tires, stay with them as you have lots of aftermarket choices.

FYI, there is a trade-off to the speed rating...as the rating goes up (stiffer sidewalls) ride quality will tend to suffer. There is no free lunch. Most people adapt quickly to the change in ride but it is different
 

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I've never had a complaint with my S-rated, 245/65/17 Bridgestone Duelers. They've always handled well on the road, but I admit I wouldn't mind something a little stiffer.
 

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Again, thanks for your inputs. Regarding the possibility of getting better tires, are you suggesting that I go to 19" rims as well as getting a "stiffer" tire? The 17 inch Bridgestone Alenza, as shown on tire rack, appear to be T rated, not V rated. Will the 19" perform that much better? Thanks -- LJ
If you stayed with the 17" wheel, the only V rated tires in that size (17") that wouldn't throw off your speedometer too much is 255/60/17. There are only 2 brands of tires out there that have any treadwear warranty in that size but I am not familiar with the quality of them (Hankook Ventus AS RH07 or Kumho Solus KL21).

If I were in your shoes I would drive a Sport at the dealership to see if you actually do notice a difference (which would be a reflection of suspension vs. stiffer sidewall), if you were closer you'd be more than welcome to drive mine to see how much of a difference the stiffer sidewall does make. I'd never go back.
 
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