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

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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Attila

19 years of experience
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Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
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Shawn

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12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
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Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
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20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
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I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

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