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“New Highlander”
2019 Highlander LE
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27 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Just three days into owning a 2019 Highlander LE I-4, I’ve already gotten the question, “Why didn’t you get a 4Runner?” Anyone else encounter this question periodically?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the sporty, off road look of the 4Runner, but I’ve been there, done that, with my previous vehicle, a Tacoma TRD Off Road. My primary reasons for purchasing the Highlander over the 4Runner were:

-Lower price–sale price was less than $30k for an LE I-4
-Roomier interior with standard 3rd row
-Smoother ride, lower ride height–no need for step rails for my family members
 

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Let me start by saying that I don't off-road, so I don't need a body-on-frame 4WD vehicle.

I had both a 3rd Gen and a 4th Gen 4Runner. I really liked the 4th Gen for a number of reasons. When the time came to trade in the 4th Gen, I didn't care for the design of the 5th Gen. Also, 4Runner was way behind on tech toys by that point. Even today, the 2019 4Runner still doesn't have Toyota Safety Sense. Finally, trade-in value on the 4Runner was a little disappointing. My trade-ins are very clean and no mods, so I usually do pretty well in that area.

It seems to me that 4Runner has become sort of a niche vehicle for Toyota aimed at the true off-roaders. It's still a nice truck, but it's just not my thing anymore. The Highlander is a better fit now for what I want in a daily driver.
 

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“New Highlander”
2019 Highlander LE
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27 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
You reminded me that I also don’t go off roading. Excellent point regarding the lack of Toyota Safety Sense features! It wasn’t a make or break consideration for me, but it’s a reassuring feature package that comes in handy and insurance costs are likely to be even less in the future with the additional safety features. The infotainment system and layout in the 4Runner seems dated, same as the Tundra.

I don’t want to come across as bashing the 4Runner, certainly not, just pointing out my perspective on some differences between the Highlander and 4Runner.
 

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I don’t want to come across as bashing the 4Runner,
Well I'll bash the 4Runner. It's headlights are so bad that it may be unsafe to drive at night. It's one of the few Toyotas that have headlights that get the very lowest "Poor" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: https://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/4runner-4-door-suv

The current Highlander doesn't have the best headlights but at least it gets the second highest rating of "Acceptable" from the IIHS: https://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/highlander-4-door-suv

It's bad enough that the 4Runner got only a "Marginal" rating in the IIHS "Small overlap front, Drivers-side" crash test but to have headlights that make a driver more likely to crash? Really?

Toyota has been my favorite car company for a long time and we're shareholders but I'm no longer giving Toyota a pass on issues like these.
 

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Highlander will have better mileage, nicer ride, the 4Runner more truck like, better suited for off-road useage. But here in Canada the 4Runner might not last long in your driveway due to high theft rate.
 

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“New Highlander”
2019 Highlander LE
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27 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I don’t want to come across as bashing the 4Runner,
Well I'll bash the 4Runner. It's headlights are so bad that it may be unsafe to drive at night. It's one of the few Toyotas that have headlights that get the very lowest "Poor" rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: https://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/4runner-4-door-suv

The current Highlander doesn't have the best headlights but at least it gets the second highest rating of "Acceptable" from the IIHS: https://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/highlander-4-door-suv[/url [/QUOTE] If I recall correctly, headlight evaluations just became a factor in ratings in recent years. Ever wonder how Toyota equips the Corolla with LED headlights, but higher models still have halogen bulbs? [QUOTE="Franco Cialone, post: 13968354, member: 601418"]Highlander will have better mileage, nicer ride, the 4Runner more truck like, better suited for off-road useage. But here in Canada the 4Runner might not last long in your driveway due to high theft rate.[/QUOTE] Better mileage is definitely a plus! The lack of a push button start ignition in the 4Runner is probably a bonus for thieves.
 

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If I recall correctly, headlight evaluations just became a factor in ratings in recent years. Ever wonder how Toyota equips the Corolla with LED headlights, but higher models still have halogen bulbs?
Having factory LED headlights doesn't guarantee they are any good. Plenty of factory LED headlight systems have received Marginal or Poor ratings from the IIHS. Offhand I don't remember any Halogen low beam headlight systems that get the IIHS highest "Good" rating but lots of halogen headlight systems get the IIHS second highest "Acceptable" rating.

For example, the standard LED headlights on the 2018 BMW 3-series sedan got the IIHS "Poor" rating. Both the standard LED headlights and the optional curve adaptive LED headlights on the rather expensive Tesla Model S also got Poor ratings when the IIHS lasted tested them in 2017.

There are lots of awful HID headlight systems too. For example, the standard HID headlights on the 2019 Audi A3 sedan got the IIHS "Poor" rating.

I'm starting to check IIHS headlight ratings before I will accept a rental car. I failed to do that last month much when I rented a 2017 Kia Sedona in Seattle and later found that I couldn't see a damned thing at night. When I looked up the headlight ratings, I saw that the Sedona's headlights got a "Poor" rating from the IIHS. I beat a path back to SeaTac airport and replaced the Kia with a 2019 Camry that had headlights that got the IIHS "Acceptable" rating.

Good headlights have become increasingly important as I've aged. I'm not going to buy another vehicle that has less than the highest headlight rating from the IIHS.
 

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“New Highlander”
2019 Highlander LE
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27 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
If I recall correctly, headlight evaluations just became a factor in ratings in recent years. Ever wonder how Toyota equips the Corolla with LED headlights, but higher models still have halogen bulbs?
Having factory LED headlights doesn't guarantee they are any good. Plenty of factory LED headlight systems have received Marginal or Poor ratings from the IIHS. Offhand I don't remember any Halogen low beam headlight systems that get the IIHS highest "Good" rating but lots of halogen headlight systems get the IIHS second highest "Acceptable" rating.

For example, the standard LED headlights on the 2018 BMW 3-series sedan got the IIHS "Poor" rating. Both the standard LED headlights and the optional curve adaptive LED headlights on the rather expensive Tesla Model S also got Poor ratings when the IIHS lasted tested them in 2017.

There are lots of awful HID headlight systems too. For example, the standard HID headlights on the 2019 Audi A3 sedan got the IIHS "Poor" rating.

I'm starting to check IIHS headlight ratings before I will accept a rental car. I failed to do that last month much when I rented a 2017 Kia Sedona in Seattle and later found that I couldn't see a damned thing at night. When I looked up the headlight ratings, I saw that the Sedona's headlights got a "Poor" rating from the IIHS. I beat a path back to SeaTac airport and replaced the Kia with a 2019 Camry that had headlights that got the IIHS "Acceptable" rating.

Good headlights have become increasingly important as I've aged. I'm not going to buy another vehicle that has less than the highest headlight rating from the IIHS.
I appreciate your insight. I mistakenly assumed LED headlights correlated to a better view and better safety ratings.
 

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This is why Toyota makes both the 4Runner and the Highlander. Two different models that serve different purposes. Highlander is more car like, front wheel drive primarily. 4Runner more truck like, traditional drive train, heavier duty all the way around. I own a 4Runner and bought for exactly those reasons. Body on frame, true transfer case, rear wheel drive, and much more truck like. It is my wife's DD, and she has but 34K miles on it and it has been a great vehicle so far. The truck is bullet proof. Proven, very reliable 4.0 V6, and 5 speed transmission.

And you can't currently beat the resale value on the 4Runners.
 

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I wanted to get a 4 runner , as I used to drive 4x4 in a work situation and off road quite a bit, carrying loads off road, of up to a 1 ton, so the 4 runner reminded me of a toyota pickup without the pick up compromises and was finding my rav4 a bit small, so wanted something ,simple with a good load capacity and something well more fun I guess, but the 4 runner in its base 4x4 form was right in the pain zone in terms of price for me. Was given a test drive of a limited 4 runner(way more than my budget) and liked the ride height and the feel of the cabin except the crazy window switch placement, but the dive under braking at only 40 mph was almost hilarious, decided to test drive the off road trd version with kdss and it was impressive in the tied down feel compared to the limited but had all the off road tricks etc for 2K extra, I never intended using it off road I just wanted a tough vehicle , and realised the rear seat room was marginal and the fuel economy was borderline awful and thought better of it and thought about getting another Rav4 , then realised that the highlander ticked most of the boxes and in LE trim is similar in price to the higher end Rav4s so went for the highlander XLE, but spent only slightly less than the base 4 runner SR5 4x4 to get something I would be happy with as a long term vehicle and considering all the silly soccer mom talk the highlander seems a very tough competent vehicle, good compromise in the end. Also the highlander only weighs 200 lbs less than the full chassis 4 runner, that indicates a rather impressive level of basic build quality, it is a tank, if you get the XLE or below you won't be disappointed, the limited models have a lot to live up to and really don't equate to value, but if they are well within your vehicle budget then you will be happy with them as well.
 

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2018 Highlander XLE
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Highlander was a better value, nicer ride, nicer interior, better equipped trims.

4Runner’s more suited to those who want an SUV with truck like capabilities (towing, off-road, etc...).
Also, 4Runner seemed about as roomy as a Tacoma.




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I didn't even step ONTO the 4runner to rule it out. The step up is too high for my aging parents. I wanted a bigger Lexus RX, so a top trim HL is as close as I can get at the time.
 

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When I drove the 4runner it felt like a truck, ready to go off roading. I didn't want a truck, and certainly didn't care to go off roading. Also the technology was lacking in the 4runner, even more than the HL which says a lot.

As a daily driver and kid hauler, I was looking for a smooth, comfortable ride with a nice interior and decent MPG, hence the HL over the 4runner.
 

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My previous vehicle was an 05 4runner. EXCELLENT vehicle. Sold it with a little over 305k miles. Very few issues. Only major problem were the front calipers. Design flaw. I replaced them about once a year. I bought my second set from NAPA which came with a lifetime warranty. Never had to pay for the cost again. By my 6th set I was able to replace both calipers in about 30 minutes. Practice makes perfect.


The main reason I didn't buy one again is that I have a smaller camping pop-up now and my son graduated college and moved away and we no longer go adventure camping so I didn't need the true 4wd capability anymore, but I still needed at least AWD for our weekend snow-skiing trips. Usually just wife and I. Sometimes my daughter who lives in Boston will join us.


I love the HL and glad I switched...however I would not be unhappy if I bought another 4runner. They are GREAT vehicles.
 

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The technology gap between the Highlander and 4Runner is significant and will get even wider in 2020 unless the 4Runner gets a significant update for next year. One wonders if tariff fears might have put a 4Runner refresh on hold.
 

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I was in Hendrick Toyota in Merriam, Kansas a couple of years ago waiting for one of our Toyotas to be serviced when I saw a "young" couple - maybe in their mid-50's get out of a new 4Runner they had just test driven. Having time on my hands, I was looking at a Highlander on the showroom floor when they entered the north door near where the Highlander was standing.

Being the totally introverted person I am, I asked them if they had considered a Highlander instead of a 4Runner. They said they had not and that they were interested only in a 4Runner. My perception was that they were at the dealership just "kicking tires" and were not planning to buy that day. I proceeded to show them interior features of the Highlander and talked with them about how much more car-like the Highlander drove and rode.

Next thing I know, the couple was test driving a Highlander. They bought one before I left the dealership. The salesman declined when I asked for my cut of his commission.

I'm the last person on earth who could make a living selling cars but maybe I could sell Highlanders!
 

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2015 4 Runner SR5
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The HL and the Runner are targeted for different uses. Selecting one over the other would really be about - what do I need this vehicle to do for me? With the possible exception of the 4Runner Limited trim (pejoratively called a mall-crawler), the Runner is really meant to go off road. While you can go off-road in the HL, that is not its DNA, as it were.


I would think there are pretty good reasons the Runner does not have all the tech toys as the others, and has some features harder for others:


Height (can't get certain people in it easily) - off-road likes height, so you don't tear your bottom out on the rocks
Auto cruise control - when crawling up a mountain side?
Collision detection - when crawling up a mountain side?
etcetra, etcera.



To me the Runner is that in-between vehicle: your DD when not trying to climb some back mountain road to a camp site. I didn't want two vehicles (one to tow the pop-up and climb those roads, the other to drive day-day); so I bought a 4Runner to do both.
 

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I was in Hendrick Toyota in Merriam, Kansas a couple of years ago waiting for one of our Toyotas to be serviced when I saw a "young" couple - maybe in their mid-50's get out of a new 4Runner they had just test driven. Having time on my hands, I was looking at a Highlander on the showroom floor when they entered the north door near where the Highlander was standing.

Being the totally introverted person I am, I asked them if they had considered a Highlander instead of a 4Runner. They said they had not and that they were interested only in a 4Runner. My perception was that they were at the dealership just "kicking tires" and were not planning to buy that day. I proceeded to show them interior features of the Highlander and talked with them about how much more car-like the Highlander drove and rode.

Next thing I know, the couple was test driving a Highlander. They bought one before I left the dealership. The salesman declined when I asked for my cut of his commission.

I'm the last person on earth who could make a living selling cars but maybe I could sell Highlanders!
Sales people are hopeless most of them don't know anything about the cars they sell, I had a toyota sales guy in the country I used to live (not north america) and he knew everything about toyotas , he said the best value was the middle of the range model and I think this still is good advice. He said the toyota trucks had small oil sumps and under severe use needed frequent oil changes. But I was like those people you mentioned had a fixation with the 4runner, at one dealer the salesperson tried to steer me towards the HL and I rejected them and then they tried to keep our ID to stop us leaving lol, but other than that they were right in hindsight about the respective vehicles.
 

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The HL and the Runner are targeted for different uses. Selecting one over the other would really be about - what do I need this vehicle to do for me? With the possible exception of the 4Runner Limited trim (pejoratively called a mall-crawler), the Runner is really meant to go off road. While you can go off-road in the HL, that is not its DNA, as it were.
While the 4Runner is much better than the Highlander for off-road use, more than 99% of SUV's are used as "mall-crawlers" by image conscious people such as those who don't want to be seen in a minivan or station wagon or who simply want a higher positioned driver's seat.

I'm quite sure, for example, that the most stressful activity that my next door neighbor Andrea's new BMW X3 will be used for is a trip to Whole Foods Market. The only people I know who really go off-road are farmers and they do it in pickup trucks when they drive through their fields.
 
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