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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New owner here. Traded in a 2014 GMC Terrain Denali 4 cylinder. After driving the Highlander a few days I am very disappointed in the 8 speed transmission and noise levels! I honestly wish I had my old car back! This thing drones like crazy when cruising around 65 to 70 in high gear unless going downhill. Any serious load and the engine is droning in a low frequency noise from 1500 RPM to about 1700. At other RPMs it sounds like a normal V6.. Any slight upgrade or even a headwind and the transmission drops a gear, but then the groan goes away. It's incredibly aggravating with all the noises and shifting going on. Is this noise normal? My 4 cylinder Terrain shifted about one fifth as much!

I've also found that the power seat lacks the adjustability of my Terrain seat (which is causing leg pain), the seat heaters are weak, the lane departure warning seldom goes off, the auto high beams don't dim when they should, the radar cruise control results in overly hectic acceleration when picking up speed, and the steering is rather numb and inaccurate.

The car is very roomy, rides nicely, and feels very solid. I still overall prefer my Terrain though. I think the media has way over-hyped the Highlander. Only one article mentions the frequent shifting of the transmission. I'm glad these have good resale value because I have a feeling I will be trading it quickly. Any other owner input on these issues would be appreciated.
 

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If you do a search there are many complaints about droning and wind noise for the 3rd gen highlander, but this might be a first for the new engine and 8 speed transmission of the 2017 refresh. My 2016 Sienna uses a 6 six speed trans that has a drone around 1200 rpm which is fortunately not the sweet spot for the engine at Highway speeds. Most people including myself believe the drone is due to the exhaust/resonator not being properly tuned to the engine. Under my Sienna, you would not believe how many metal masses and doodads have been spot wielded to the exhaust system to apparently get the vibration and droning out of it. In any case, I wish you luck.
 

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New owner here. Traded in a 2014 GMC Terrain Denali 4 cylinder. After driving the Highlander a few days I am very disappointed in the 8 speed transmission and noise levels! I honestly wish I had my old car back! This thing drones like crazy when cruising around 65 to 70 in high gear unless going downhill. Any serious load and the engine is droning in a low frequency noise from 1500 RPM to about 1700. At other RPMs it sounds like a normal V6.. Any slight upgrade or even a headwind and the transmission drops a gear, but then the groan goes away. It's incredibly aggravating with all the noises and shifting going on. Is this noise normal? My 4 cylinder Terrain shifted about one fifth as much!

I've also found that the power seat lacks the adjustability of my Terrain seat (which is causing leg pain), the seat heaters are weak, the lane departure warning seldom goes off, the auto high beams don't dim when they should, the radar cruise control results in overly hectic acceleration when picking up speed, and the steering is rather numb and inaccurate.

The car is very roomy, rides nicely, and feels very solid. I still overall prefer my Terrain though. I think the media has way over-hyped the Highlander. Only one article mentions the frequent shifting of the transmission. I'm glad these have good resale value because I have a feeling I will be trading it quickly. Any other owner input on these issues would be appreciated.
I've got a limited hybrid and I'm a little surprised at the level of the exhaust sound (a little noisy for my old fart ears) at low RPM. Overall I'm happy though, even if it does take a long time for the cabin temperature to warm up when it's cold out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you do a search there are many complaints about droning and wind noise for the 3rd gen highlander, but this might be a first for the new engine and 8 speed transmission of the 2017 refresh. My 2016 Sienna uses a 6 six speed trans that has a drone around 1200 rpm which is fortunately not the sweet spot for the engine at Highway mph. Most people including myself believe the drone is due to the exhaust/resonator not being properly tuned to the engine. Under my Sienna, you would not believe how many metal masses and doodads have been spot wielded to the exhaust system to apparently get the vibration and droning out of it. In any case, I wish you luck.
Perhaps they moved the obnoxious drone to a higher RPM? :frown: Worse yet is it right about 65 to 70 mph, particularly if the engine is under a load at all from a headwind or very slight incline. It will actually downshift just from a head wind. The engine is then running around 2000 rpm and sounds normal. Seems hard to believe that a nearly 300 horse engine can't run down the highway in top gear though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've got a limited hybrid and I'm a little surprised at the level of the exhaust sound (a little noisy for my old fart ears) at low RPM. Overall I'm happy though, even if it does take a long time for the cabin temperature to warm up when it's cold out.
Is your exhaust drone worst around 1500 to 1700 RPM when under a load? As for the heater, it seems on par with most cars Ive owned. Faster would be nice. I find the seat heater to be slow, and even on high its about on par with my Terrain when on low. The Terrain would roast your butt on high! :smile:
 

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Is your exhaust drone worst around 1500 to 1700 RPM when under a load? As for the heater, it seems on par with most cars Ive owned. Faster would be nice. I find the seat heater to be slow, and even on high its about on par with my Terrain when on low. The Terrain would roast your butt on high! :smile:
I have the CVT with no tach so I can only estimate but I would say it's around the range you're hearing. We traded in a 2014 Oddysey and that heater was like a furnace. I drive a Wrangler and it comes up to temp a lot faster too, even with a soft top. Either way at least I don't have to drive a minivan anymore :wink: .
 

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Perhaps they moved the obnoxious drone to a higher RPM? :frown: Worse yet is it right about 65 to 70 mph, particularly if the engine is under a load at all from a headwind or very slight incline. It will actually downshift just from a head wind. The engine is then running around 2000 rpm and sounds normal. Seems hard to believe that a nearly 300 horse engine can't run down the highway in top gear though!
Well, its maybe 300 ponies, but the drive train is designed to maximize mileage. As a consequence, the engine will will drop to a lowest rpm and highest gear to sustain a particular speed. Unfortunately that lowest RPM appears to provide a perfect resonance frequency for the droning. Also, as you pointed out, that results in a lot of gear hunting and rpm changes depending on the load/resistance to maintain a set speed. For me, I'm glad I got the 2nd gen HL with a 5 speed transmission. It never hunts for a gear unless I tow and has never droned.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, it maybe 300 ponies, but the drive train is designed to maximize mileage. As a consequence, the engine will will drop to a lowest rpm and highest gear to sustain a particular speed. Unfortunately that lowest RPM appears to provide a perfect resonance frequency for the droning. Also, as you pointed out, that results in a lot of gear hunting and rpm changes depending on the load/resistance to maintain a set speed. For me, I'm glad I got the 2nd gen HL with a 5 speed transmission. It never hunts for a gear unless I tow and has never droned.
Unfortunately I think you've nailed it. I think the extremely tall top gear is causing engine/exhaust drone at low rpm when under a load. It's so loud I was thinking there was another loud vehicle driving near me. I may dump it for a new 2017 Terrain or Equinox this spring while I can still get a good old 6 speed automatic. GM is changing them to 9 speeds on the new models. No doubt aggravation will come standard.
 

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Unfortunately I think you've nailed it. I think the extremely tall top gear is causing engine/exhaust drone at low rpm when under a load. It's so loud I was thinking there was another loud vehicle driving near me. I may dump it for a new 2017 Terrain or Equinox this spring while I can still get a good old 6 speed automatic. GM is changing them to 9 speeds on the new models. No doubt aggravation will come standard.
You should probably take it into the dealership to see if there is anything that can be done. Who knows, maybe a bolt fell off or something was not fastened correctly. However, don't be surprised if Toyota puts you in another test vehicle with the same drone than tells you "Your Highlander is operation as designed because others sound the same way."
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You should probably take it into the dealership to see if there is anything that can be done. Who knows, maybe a bolt fell off or something was not fastened correctly. However, don't be surprised if Toyota puts you in another test vehicle with the same drone than tells you "Your Highlander is operation as designed because others sound the same way."
I will stop and have them look at it. Im about 90% sure though that they are all this way. Any picky person considering one of these should take a good drive on the interstate highway and make sure the noise and frequent gear shifting isn't bothersome.
 

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Many thanks for sharing. Almost sounding like the new Pilot with 9 speed transmission.

New owner here. Traded in a 2014 GMC Terrain Denali 4 cylinder. After driving the Highlander a few days I am very disappointed in the 8 speed transmission and noise levels! I honestly wish I had my old car back! This thing drones like crazy when cruising around 65 to 70 in high gear unless going downhill. Any serious load and the engine is droning in a low frequency noise from 1500 RPM to about 1700. At other RPMs it sounds like a normal V6.. Any slight upgrade or even a headwind and the transmission drops a gear, but then the groan goes away. It's incredibly aggravating with all the noises and shifting going on. Is this noise normal? My 4 cylinder Terrain shifted about one fifth as much!

I've also found that the power seat lacks the adjustability of my Terrain seat (which is causing leg pain), the seat heaters are weak, the lane departure warning seldom goes off, the auto high beams don't dim when they should, the radar cruise control results in overly hectic acceleration when picking up speed, and the steering is rather numb and inaccurate.

The car is very roomy, rides nicely, and feels very solid. I still overall prefer my Terrain though. I think the media has way over-hyped the Highlander. Only one article mentions the frequent shifting of the transmission. I'm glad these have good resale value because I have a feeling I will be trading it quickly. Any other owner input on these issues would be appreciated.
 

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Any picky person considering one of these should take a good drive on the interstate highway and make sure the noise and frequent gear shifting isn't bothersome.
Apparently u didn't test drive or did you? I've been waiting for someone to give pro/cons on their new HL, so tks for sharing.

btw...If your really unhappy with your HL do something about it. Find vehicle that'll make u happy. Some do, thinking most don't.:dunno:
 

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I got a 2017 XLE last week and I have only driven it a few times since. After reading your post I think I know exactly what you are reffering to. I didnt know what to make of the drone at first, I thought there was something kind of sporty about the noise but now that I hear your pov, I am rethinking the matter. I dont neccesarily have an issue with the noise but as I drive the car more and more I dislike how often the tranny seems to be uncertain of what gear it should be on. I find rolling accelerations to be on the slow side. I only have 150 miles on the car so far, so my hope is that my city mpg improves from the reported 16 on the comp right now.

Let me just add that Im coming from a bmw x5 Diesel and the thing pulled at any speed like a true beast regardless of load. I was a bit spoiled. Now i am in what feels like a heavier car with less torque and more gears. The only substantial fuel economy i see currently is that i am saving about 25 cents a gallon compared to the diesel. Fingers crossed that my mpg improves after break in, otherwise 8 speeds is pointless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Apparently u didn't test drive or did you? I've been waiting for someone to give pro/cons on their new HL, so tks for sharing. Hopefully this thread stays on topic.."just about 2017 HL". :wink:

btw...If your really unhappy with your HL do something about it. Find vehicle that'll make u happy. Some do, thinking most don't.:dunno:
I did test drive quite a bit but wasn't on an interstate where I could run a steady 70 mph. My mistake. In mixed driving the gear changes aren't so obvious. It's on steady state cruising that it becomes obvious. So warning to potential buyers, take it in a good long interstate cruise at 65 to 70 mph. Fortunately I have the financial means to get rid of it quickly if it continues to bug me. Some buyers aren't so lucky. I'll give it a couple months and see how I'm adjusting to its quirks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I got a 2017 XLE last week and I have only driven it a few times since. After reading your post I think I know exactly what you are reffering to. I didnt know what to make of the drone at first, I thought there was something kind of sporty about the noise but now that I hear your pov, I am rethinking the matter. I dont neccesarily have an issue with the noise but as I drive the car more and more I dislike how often the tranny seems to be uncertain of what gear it should be on. I find rolling accelerations to be on the slow side. I only have 150 miles on the car so far, so my hope is that my city mpg improves from the reported 16 on the comp right now.

Let me just add that Im coming from a bmw x5 Diesel and the thing pulled at any speed like a true beast regardless of load. I was a bit spoiled. Now i am in what feels like a heavier car with less torque and more gears. The only substantial fuel economy i see currently is that i am saving about 25 cents a gallon compared to the diesel. Fingers crossed that my mpg improves after break in, otherwise 8 speeds is pointless.
I was getting dismal mileage (15 mpg) on short trips in very cold weather, but after about 40 miles of interstate driving added in its up to 20 mpg overall. I'd estimate my 4 cylinder Terrain would have gotten 23 or so in similar use, so not that bad for the weight of the Highlander. I know what you mean about acceleration. If you try to take off in even a mildly brisk manner the engine seems to rev to very high RPM's before upshifts. It also downshifts incredibly easlly. I guess nobody can claim the tranny is reluctant to downshift. Feels like low end torque is lacking. Funny thing is one of my favorite powertrains in everyday use was the GM 3800 V6. They had great low end torque, and shifted slick, plus got 30mpg on the highway in a full size car.
 

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Here's the link to the 3rd gen drone problem that started on the 2014 model year. http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/3...4/884593-droning-2000-rpm-just-got-worse.html


I know there were many here hoping the direct injection heads & 8 speed tranny from Lexus might cure this problem, but now it's looking like a no go. It's definitely an exhaust pipe/system issue, and surprised Toyota hasn't done/fixed it yet.


I even tried the exhaust pipe hanger mod last year described in the above link and it helps some, but doesn't cure the problem. It's right about 1800-1850 rpm, doesn't make any difference what gear or speed your going, as long as your trying to maintain speed going into a headwind or up a slight incline. I notice it most at around 60-65 mph & 1800-1900 rpm. It gets fairly loud in the rear passenger area.
 
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