The last generation Toyota Highlander was one of the first vehicles to utilize a car chassis (from the Camry) underneath the body of an SUV. Today we call them CUVs or Crossovers, but back in 2001, they were just different. As a matter of fact, SUVs like the Explorer and Trailblazer were considered by many to be superior due to their more powerful powertrains, ability to tow large amounts of weight, and relative off-road prowess. In this age of $3 per gallon gasoline, however, Toyota's Highlander has weathered the storm better than most midsize body-on-frame SUVs.
Where the Highlander did come up a bit short was in the looks department. Calling the last-generation Highlander homely would almost be a compliment. The interior, while nicely built with high-quality materials, wasn't very usable, either. To see if Toyota was able to improve upon the boring-yet-successful Highlander, we traveled to Dearborn, Michigan, of all places, where Toyota officially unveiled the Highlander and gave us a chance to drive the vehicle around town.