Toyota Highlander Trim Comparison: XLE vs Limited

Toyota Highlander XLE vs Toyota Highlander Limited

Of the available trims, the Toyota Highlander XLE is the most popular. Meanwhile, the upmarket Limited easily makes a good case for itself without busting the budget.

So, I decided to test both trims to see the difference.

Does it make sense to stay with the XLE crowd, or can you make a better choice by stepping up to the Limited?

  • Choose the XLE if you are budget-conscious, okay with standard features, and don't need max headroom or extra safety features.
  • Choose the Limited if you are a luxury seeker, want premium materials & tech, value extra convenience & safety features, and are willing to pay more for a pampered experience.

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Toyota Highlander XLE Trim vs Limited Comparison

SpecificationsToyota Highlander XLEToyota Highlander Limited
Starting Price (FWD/AWD)$42,270/$43,870 $46,375/$48,325
Seating MaterialSofTex® vinyl Leather
Heated SeatsFront only Front & ventilated
Touchscreen Size8-inch 12.3-inch
Blind Spot MonitoringNo Standard
Parking AssistNoStandard
Overall FeelValue-driven comfort Premium & tech-laden

Best Choice for:

  • Budget-conscious: XLE
  • Luxury seeker: Limited
  • Don't need extra headroom: XLE
  • Want extra safety features: Limited
  • Prefer standard features: XLE
  • Desire top-tier tech & comfort: Limited

Tale of the Tape and Beyond

Toyota-Highlander-XLE-Tale-of-the-Tape-and-BeyondBoth trims provide ample seating for up to 8 passengers across three rows, making them ideal for families or those who frequently transport passengers.

However, the Limited boasts slightly more headroom and legroom in the first and second rows, offering a touch more spaciousness.

Cargo space behind the third row remains identical at 16.0 cubic feet, but the Limited offers power-folding side mirrors for easier maneuvering in tight spaces.

While both XLE and Limited offer generous space, subtle differences exist. Opt for the Limited if maximizing headroom, especially for third-row passengers, is a priority.

Cargo capacity is identical across both trims, and both models share the same exterior footprint, so maneuvering tight spaces won't be a deciding factor.


Cabin Quality and Design

Toyota-Highlander-Limited-Cabin-Quality-and-DesignThe XLE welcomes you with standard SofTex® vinyl upholstery that feels and looks like leather, heated front seats, and a 10-way power driver's seat for personalized comfort.

The Limited elevates the experience with genuine leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and memory settings for the driver's seat.

Both boast an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the Limited upgrades to a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen and adds navigation and a premium JBL sound system.

The XLE packs standard features like a hands-free power liftgate, moonroof, and second-row sunshades.

The Limited takes convenience to the next level with a foot-activated power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, ambient interior lighting, and a digital rearview mirror for enhanced visibility.


Performance & Powertrains

Toyota-Highlander-Limited-Performance-&-PowertrainsBoth XLE and Limited share the same powerful 3.5L V6 engine with 295 horsepower and an 8-speed automatic transmission, offering ample power for daily commutes and highway cruising.

Fuel efficiency remains comparable, with the XLE slightly edging out at 21 mpg combined compared to the Limited's 20 mpg combined.

Additionally, both offer available front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) for tackling diverse terrains.


Safety Equipment and Scores

Toyota-Highlander-Limited-Safety-Equipment-and-ScoresBoth XLE and Limited prioritize safety with their comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense® 2.5+ suite, featuring pre-collision warning, lane departure assistance, radar cruise control, and more.

The Limited ups the ante with blind spot monitoring and parking assist systems.

While both earned stellar 5-star NHTSA ratings and the coveted IIHS "Top Safety Pick+" designation, rest assured either Highlander trim champions your well-being on the road.

Current Toyota Highlander Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2023ToyotaHighlander
2024ToyotaHighlander3.99%$479/month for 36 months, $4,999 due at signing7/1/24

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Toyota deals here.

So, Which Highlander Trim Is Better, the XLE or the Limited?

Choosing between the XLE and Limited boils down to your individual needs and preferences:

  • Value-conscious adventurer: Opt for the XLE and enjoy its impressive standard features at a more budget-friendly price.
  • Luxury seeker: The Limited pampers you with premium materials, advanced technology, and extra convenience features, justifying its higher price tag.
  • Spaciousness matters most: Both offer ample space, but the Limited provides slightly more headroom and legroom for tall passengers or growing families.
  • Frequent cargo hauling: Both offer similar cargo space, but the Limited's power-folding side mirrors might be handy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Would it make better financial sense to buy the Highlander XLE or the Limited?

That depends on what you’re looking for in a three-row family vehicle. If it comes down to a better infotainment and audio system, then getting the XLE with the optional upgrade to the 12.3-inch display and JBL audio would be a good call and save thousands over the Limited. On the other hand, if you’re inclined to prefer niceties such as leather seating and a quieter interior, as well as the better audio and a bit more safety tech, then the Limited certainly will not give you any remorse.

Why has Toyota retired the V6 engine?

Stricter emission standards forced Toyota’s hand on this, although the automaker had already been moving in this direction. Environmentally, the new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine reduces harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) and non-methane organic gas (NMOG) emissions by more than 50 percent according to Toyota.