Everyone loves a good listicle, and with the relatively new model year, it seems appropriate to share a few interesting features that can be found in the 2022 Toyota Highlander. From camera details to smart key secrets, there are a lot of unusual and useful facts to learn about the Highlander, particularly if you plan on owning one. Though the 2022 models carry over from 2021 with few changes, there are small shifts in the lineup that buyers may want to know—and helpful tips for operating features or driving dynamics never hurt.
Toyota has been manufacturing the Highlander since the year 2000, when it arrived as a five-seat crossover—that is, until Toyota offered it with seven seats in 2004 models. Since the earliest years of the Highlander’s introduction, the global market widely responded with praise for the comfortable, roomy SUV. Today, the 2022 Highlander is in its fourth generation, which started in 2019. Toyota is already collecting awards for the 2022 model year. Praise-worthy features include these 10 favorites.
#1: Camera Washer
Starting with 2020 models, Toyota made rearview camera washers standard equipment on the Highlander. It is still one of the few Toyota vehicles to offer this feature, and it’s fantastic if you live either in a snowy climate where roads get messy in cold weather, or in dusty places like arid climates. The washer is simple to use: turn on the washer fluid for the rear window, and it automatically washes the rearview camera lens. If you rely heavily on the rearview camera for safely backing out of tricky places with poor visibility, this feature is a must-have.
#2: Zero to 60 Is a Breeze
You might think the Highlander won’t be very quick to accelerate as a three-row SUV, but you would be wrong. With the 3.5-L V6 as the standard engine for the traditional gas-powered models, the Highlander can accelerate from zero to 60 in 6.7 seconds (according to Car and Driver testing). That should be quick enough for anyone pulling into traffic, no matter how fierce traffic may be where you live. Compare that to the Highlander’s first generation, which had zero to 60 times of 8.8 seconds, and the three-row crossover has gained a full two seconds of quickness during its two decades of production.
#3: Braking Power
With faster speeds, you want better brakes. Toyota puts ventilated disc brakes on the front wheels, which improves stopping power with better cooling to handle the heat of friction, especially during hard braking. When stopping from 70 mph, the 2022 Highlander comes to a halt in a short 176 ft, which is better than many of its three-row competitors in the segment. At the very least, the Highlander should inspire a sense of trust in its ability to stop on a dime.
#4: Pedestrian Spotting
Now that all 2022 Highlander models come fully equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, every Highlander gets a handy feature specifically for spotting pedestrians. It’s not the standard detection for frontal views, like most driver-assist technology; when turning left, the sensors can detect a pedestrian in the line of the steering path. That means, if a person happens to be crossing an intersection where you plan to take a left turn, the Highlander can warn the driver of an impending accident—so you avoid hitting someone you might not even see.
#5: Smart Key Secret
Now that all models of the 2022 Highlander come with the Smart Key system, gaining entry to the popular SUV is easier and more convenient with the fob. And, the system has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Unlocking with the Smart Key in your hand is as simple as pulling on the driver’s door handle; locking only requires touching the driver’s door handle once again. Listen for the sound of the doors locking, and you can walk away.
To unlock all the doors, place your hand on the driver’s door handle and hold it there for three seconds. You’ll hear the driver’s door unlock first, and then in three seconds, it opens all the doors. Neat. Even better, if you walk to the liftgate, the button at the underside of the handle can be pressed to lock all the doors, too—as long as you have the Smart Key in your hand or close to the door.
#6: Lighter Liftgate
When Toyota updated the Highlander for the 2020 model year, one of the updates included a lighter liftgate. Why does this matter? For models that get the powered liftgate—which includes the hands-free version—lighter materials enable the liftgate to open faster. It seems Toyota likes the three-second rule: just like the door unlock feature with the Smart Key, the powered liftgate now opens three seconds faster than models prior to 2020.
#7: Good Things Come in Threes
Have more than one electronic entry point to get to your home parking space? No problem in the 2022 Highlander. The Toyota Universal Remote can be programmed for three different entry points, so even if you have an electronic gate before you get to your garage door, you can still hit the remote to open each door. Then again, if you need to access more than one residence (in-laws, beware), you can drive to your different locales without having to keep a separate set of keys or remotes in the vehicle. And that’s the third rule of three for this list. Wink.
#8: Adjustable Is Amazing
Ever wish for height-adjustable seats in the Highlander? Then 2022 is your year—if you buy the XSE trim or higher. This has long been a desire for those who may be vertically challenged. Whether you’re very tall or much shorter than average, Toyota finally grants your wish to be comfortable in the driver’s seat. On top of the adjustable seat, you can also adjust the powered liftgate so it never rises too high nor too low to bump your head. This applies to ceiling height for parking garages, too, so you can prevent the liftgate from ever banging the ceiling.
#9: Bronze Is More Than a Medal
New for 2022: If you buy the XLE Hybrid model of the Highlander, you can go full metal accent with the Bronze Edition. Toyota goes crazy with the bronze accents, including 18-in. bronze wheels, illuminated bronze door sills, bronze contrasting stitching on the seats, and even bronze logos stitched into the floor mats. The exterior colors to contrast with the bronze elements include Cement, Wind Chill Pearl, and Midnight Black Metallic. Aside from the bronzing, you get some special features like that hands-free liftgate you can program, puddle lamps that shine the Highlander logo on the ground, and ambient lighting in the dash.
#10: IIHS Top Safety Pick Stats
Since 2008, the Toyota Highlander has been on the IIHS Top Safety Pick list. 2021 and 2022 models, though, have garnered the higher honor of Top Safety Pick+. In order to qualify for such a status, a vehicle has to pass all the rigorous tests the IIHS conducts on a given vehicle. These tests include how a vehicle performs during a simulated crash and how well the vehicle’s crash prevention systems function to either mitigate or avoid a crash altogether. This means the driver-assist safety features need to perform as intended; to earn the plus sign at the end of the award, the vehicle needs excellent headlights as well.