I've had SUV's with running boards in the past. If the vehicle is not super high, like the HL, they are more of a PAIN than they benefit. Unless you really need the short step-up onto the rail it will just get in the way. Also, as an added bonus the running boards will get caked with dirt since they will catch a lot of road spray. So when you drop your leg onto the ground (if you don't use the running board to step down) the edge of the running board will coat your pant leg with dirt and grime - lots of fun!
I would just really warn you against doing this. If you had a lifted truck, then yes. In my mind they are a big pain.
I have them installed on my 2107, and I do not think they help me or my wife (I am 5'11") to get in or step out, rather get in my way. Having said that, they are handy when my little one hops in or when I put stuff on the roof rack.
They do help protect the vehicle.
We had a serious crash 1/1/17, and our 17 HL replaced our destroyed Traverse. We needed these running boards to help my wife in and out. We specifically ordered these and have been happy. Without the crash history we would not have them.
I've had running boards on both of my Highlanders. I think they protect the sides of the car and in winter months, give me a place to kick the snow and slush off my boots before entering the vehicle and letting all that slop melt on the mat. I also need replacement surgery on both hips and the boards help with entry an especially exit.
I’m glad others are happy. Some in my family really need them. Others don’t. I haven’t run across complaints from those that don’t use them. (Dirty pants legs etc.) I do watch it when it is super icy. I wouldn’t want to slip. No problems yet, but I’m cautious.
They do seem to keep the sides of the car a bit cleaner, and my wife who is short, seems to like them getting in, but other then that I would probably pass for the reasons mentioned about getting your pant leg a bit dusty. Having said that, I do like the look as well.
Well that sort of answers that question It sure seems like it's a matter of option. While there are benefits, some things pointed out are helpful. Living in Maine, there is plenty of times we'll be dealing with snow and stuff (to kick off), but I'll also say - just slipping off once and smacking my shin or my wife or any others doing that, would suck.
I'm guessing they could be areas to catch snow, sand, salt and other crap, so hosing down regularly in winter time, seems like a smart move.
Oh, I'm asking because we will be ordering a 2020 today, and want to make sure to get all the options now, and this is one that we've talked about.
My kids use them, not me - plus I personally like the way they look, but we all know looks are subjective. To each their own. And they don't get in the way when getting in/out nor do they get my pants dirty, that's rediculous.