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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Breck

19 years of experience
558 reviews
Breck
19 years of experience
Chevrolet Express 2500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Houston, Texas
I scheduled a pre-purchase inspection and was really happy with the quality of the inspection. Breck was actually running ahead of schedule which was fine and was also well communicated. The inspection was thorough including interior, exterior and undercarriage reviews both written, verbal and documented with photos. Also, Breck identified some potential issues that could cause a real headache with the vehicle.
Jeep Wrangler - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Houston, Texas
Breck was timely and efficient. Very knowledgeable. After the inspection was complete, he took the time to ride along with me to pinpoint a noise I heard. Would definitely recommend and use him again.

Carlos

27 years of experience
278 reviews
Carlos
27 years of experience
BMW 330Ci - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Brea, California
Carlos was very thorough with his inspection on this vehicle I’m considering purchasing. He took detailed information with pictures of any defects and an estimate to have things maintenanced. Highly recommended and I may have him maintenance the car if I should decide to buy it.
Toyota Camry - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Baldwin Park, California
Professional and knowledgeable. Found problems quickly and explained to me what it means and what we can do. Highly recommend.

Jason

14 years of experience
24 reviews
Jason
14 years of experience
Kia Forte - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Brooklyn, New York
Appointment with Jason for a pre-purchase car inspection went smoothly. He arrived promptly and got right to business. Checked fluid levels, the interior, and exterior of the vehicle. Provided valuable insight and an expert opinion that will help in my purchase decision. He was professional and thorough in his evaluation.
BMW 528i xDrive - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Valley Stream, New York
The mechanic was very knowledgeable and very friendly. Gave me pointers that I can use going forwards

Pardeep

20 years of experience
620 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Mustang - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - San Jose, California
He was great. Very familiar and knowledgeable when it came to my older mustang GT. Pleasure to work with and nice. Would love to have him work on the car again as I start repairing and replacing items on my list through your mechanics..
Ford F-150 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fremont, California
Very detailed inspection, very clear report, Pardeep saved us from a big mistake. Thanks. Would use Pardeep again.

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