2012 Toyota Highlander vs. 2012 Dodge Durango: Which One Should I Buy? | YourMechanic Advice

2012 Toyota Highlander vs. 2012 Dodge Durango: Which One Should I Buy?

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Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are a fun class of vehicle: not only are they great for carpools and moving around friends and family, but you can also get them off-road and just get dirty and have fun with them. These two are technically crossover SUVs, but they look and handle more like a full-size SUV.

The Toyota Highlander and the Dodge Durango are two of the better offerings in this class, with the Highlander offering roomy three-row family seating that is safe, comfortable and full-featured if a little bland. The Durango acts like a civilized family wagon, but it can get down and dirty like an SUV.

dodge durango 2012
2012 Dodge Durango

Fuel Economy

The city fuel economy is only 16 mpg for the Durango and 20 for the Highlander, neither of which is what could be considered excellent. The jump is only slight for highway miles per gallon: 25 for the Highlander and 23 mpg for the Durango. The Durango does offer an incredibly generous 24.6 gallon fuel tank versus the 19.2 gallon Highlander tank.

Interior Options

The Highlander shines again when you consider interior options, as nearly every option is standard such as auxiliary visors, cargo nets, compass, cruise control, and more; although the driver information center is only standard in the Durango. Map lights and additional interior lights abound in both options. The third-row seat is small and hard to access in the Highlander, and third-row access isn’t easy in the Durango, either although the interior feels sophisticated and refined.

Driving and Exterior

The soft suspension on the Highlander makes it drive “bigger” than the vehicle actually is and the steering is pretty light when the wheel is on center, but the road-oriented all wheel drive (AWD) makes it feel great when you’re hitting some loose gravel. The Durango’s HEMI makes for a strong performance and the steering feel is excellent for a utility vehicle. However, the power of the HEMI makes the internal ride a bit of a head-tosser and causes gas mileage to lag within the class.

Safety Ratings

Both vehicles lose a star in overall safety ratings and all front crash ratings; the Durango loses two in the passenger front barrier crash rating and again loses two in the rollover rating where the Highlander only loses one star for rollover.

When you’re looking for a crossover SUV with a bit of refinement, these vehicles both offer viable options.


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14 years of experience
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Very calm, understanding told me the true price flog the vehicle and also helped me negotiate saving me $$$ great mechanic and did the pre purchase inspection good
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21 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz SLK280 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Laguna Hills, California
I hired Chris to inspect a car I wanted to purchase. He arrived on time and gave me a very detailed report, took the time to call me after to review details, and share his impression of the car. He was great and very knowledgeable, I would highly recommend him!
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Smooth experience, was able to communicate succinctly and arrived early to the appointment. Thoroughly completed the 50-point check and gave me his professional opinion. His report on the vehicle reflected knowledge on the vehicle, along with giving me his own estimate on the pricing. Definitely helped me with my purchase.

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24 years of experience
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Peter saved me from buying a lemon. He was extremely knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with. He is extremely through more than the standard and so he would be your go to guy for any picky buyer like I am. THANK YOU PETER!

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