Advance auto zone blog about fast cars and auto trader

Advance auto zone blog about cool fast cars, and auto trader

2009 Toyota Highlander 2.7-Liter Four-Cylinder

Automakers have responded by building clean diesels, E85-burning engines, and all varieties of hybrid powerplants. But sometimes the easiest solution is also the simplest: downsizing. In its current generation, Toyota's Highlander has only been available in V6 or hybrid models. But for 2009 the strong-selling crossover is now available with a four-cylinder under the hood. We put nearly 400 miles on the downsized model, and can report that compromising engine size doesn't necessarily relegate you to automotive purgatory—or the slow lane. But it does make for better gas mileage.

2009 Toyota Highlander 2.7-Liter Four-Cylinder Skeptics should note that the base 2009 Toyota Highlander's four-cylinder engine puts out roughly as much power as Toyota's fairly recent V6s. This Highlander's 2.7-liter unit is a double-overhead cam, 16-valve engine with dual variable valve timing. The engine—internally referred to as 1AR-FE—is rated at 187 hp at 5800 rpm and 186 lb-ft of torque at 4100 rpm, almost identical to the engine found in the all-new Venza we test drove recently. Also shared with the Venza is a six-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 Highlander gets a five-speed automatic with a slightly shorter final drive ratio of 3.478 (versus 4.356).

The four-cylinder Highlander is only available in front-wheel-drive and base-trim levels. Five passengers can be seated comfortably with the standard two-row seating setup, and seven will fit with the optional third row, which comes standard on the V6 model. The four-cylinder Highlander is rated at 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway, and can run on 87 octane fuel.

Standard equipment includes 245/65R17 tires, keyless entry, 40/20/20 fold-down second-row seats, cruise control and six-speaker stereo with MP3/WMA playback compatibility. And Toyota hasn't skimped on safety either. Hill-start assist, brake assist, stability and traction control, airbags for everyone, including the driver's knees, and active headrests are included.

Though it's the most meagerly outfitted of all Highlanders, climbing inside the cabin of the base model reveals reasonably well-finished surfaces, soft-touch materials, and instrumentation that is clear and well-designed—very Toyota, if you will. You might miss the higher-end pampering that comes from a leather-wrapped steering wheel and navigation, but the four-cylinder's cockpit is still a pleasant place. And details such as subtle LED lighting make nighttime driving feel even a little upscale.

You would expect a four-cylinder engine to provide subpar acceleration on a 3847-pound midsize crossover, but this Highlander moves with reasonable authority. It won't light up a drag strip or have you screaming for mercy as it pins your spine into your seat, but this engine makes for perfectly acceptable response, thanks to the six-speed transmission. It does a solid job of picking the right gear for the right speed. And shifts are quick and nearly imperceptible—this is a smooth gearbox. Cruising along at 60 mph, the tach registers barely more than 1750 spm.

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