Reviving a Classic: Restoring Your 2002 Toyota Highlander to Its Former Glory

Welcome fellow Toyota Highlander enthusiast! If you’re reading this, you likely own a 2002 Highlander, or are considering buying one. Either way, congratulations on making an excellent choice for a mid-size SUV. The 2002 model year was the first year of production for the Highlander, which has since become a favorite of drivers who want the space and versatility of an SUV without sacrificing the comfort and handling of a car.

Reviving a Classic Toyota Highlander

But like any vehicle, the 2002 Toyota Highlander has its share of wear and tear over the years. If you’re looking to bring your Highlander back to its former glory, this article is for you. We’ll cover everything from regular maintenance to more involved repairs and upgrades, so you can keep your trusty SUV running smoothly for years to come.

The History of the 2002 Toyota Highlander

Introduction to the Highlander

The 2002 Toyota Highlander was a mid-size crossover SUV that revolutionized the SUV market upon its introduction. Toyota first introduced the Highlander model in 2001, but the 2002 model was the first to be produced and sold to the public.

The Highlander was designed to cater to the needs of a wider audience than conventional SUVs could accommodate. Its versatility, fuel efficiency, and car-like handling helped the Highlander stand out from its competitors, and it quickly gained a loyal following, making it one of the most successful SUV models of all time.

Design and Features

The 2002 Highlander had a sleek, modern design that was ahead of its time. It featured a four-door body style, a rear liftgate, and a spacious interior that could accommodate seven passengers comfortably. The exterior featured a uniquely sloping front grille, sleek headlights, and taillights that complimented the overall design. The Highlander was designed to provide a car-like ride and handling, with features that included anti-lock brakes and an impressive six-speaker audio system.

The 2002 Highlander’s spacious interior could comfortably seat seven passengers, with ample legroom and headroom. The Highlander cabin was designed to cater to families who needed the space to carry their luggage and gear. It had ample cargo space, with a rear liftgate that made loading and unloading easy. Other features included air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry, and a multi-information display that provided useful information to drivers.

Critics and Reviews

The 2002 Highlander received rave reviews for its comfortable ride, spacious interior, and car-like handling. Critics praised the Highlander’s ability to provide a comfortable ride on rough roads, with a suspension system that cushioned passengers from bumps and potholes. The upholstery material was easy to clean, and the cabin was well-insulated from outside noise, making for a peaceful driving experience.

The Highlander also received praise for its fuel efficiency, with an EPA rating of 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. This helped many families save money on gas expenses while enjoying the convenience of an SUV.

In conclusion, the 2002 Toyota Highlander offered a unique, versatile, and efficient option for drivers who needed the space, capability, and comfort of an SUV. Its sleek design, impressive features, and car-like handling made it a popular choice for families and individuals alike, and it helped to revolutionize the SUV market. The Highlander remains a top choice for many drivers today, thanks to its impressive legacy, and it will continue to be a favorite for those who value versatility, capability, and efficiency.

The Performance of the 2002 Toyota Highlander

Engine Specs and Power

The 2002 Toyota Highlander was a well-reviewed midsize SUV, known for its reliability and practicality. One of the most important factors affecting its performance was its engine, which was available in two different sizes. The base model came with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivered 155 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque.

The optional engine was a 3.0-liter V6 that produced 220 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque. This engine was only available in higher trim levels, but it was worth the extra cost for drivers who wanted more power. Both engines were paired with a four-speed automatic transmission.

Transmission and Handling

The 2002 Toyota Highlander was designed with the everyday driver in mind. Its transmission was smooth and reliable, making it easy to shift gears and get the most out of its engines. Front-wheel drive was standard on all models, and all-wheel drive was available as an option.

The Highlander’s handling was another strong point. Its suspension was tuned for a comfortable ride, but it was still able to deliver responsive and agile handling on winding roads. This made it a great choice for drivers who wanted a vehicle that could handle both long road trips and city driving with ease.

Fuel Economy and Efficiency

The 2002 Toyota Highlander was one of the most fuel-efficient midsize SUVs on the market at the time. Its four-cylinder engine was rated at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway. The larger V6 engine had slightly lower fuel economy, but it was still efficient for its class, with a rating of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 19 miles per gallon on the highway.

Overall, the 2002 Toyota Highlander was a solid performer that delivered on all fronts. Its engines were reliable and powerful, its handling was smooth and agile, and its fuel economy was impressive for its class.

The Safety of the 2002 Toyota Highlander

Crash Test Ratings

The 2002 Toyota Highlander passed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests with flying colors. It received four stars out of five in NHTSA’s frontal impact test, which showcases how well a vehicle can withstand a collision. This rating is an excellent result and shows how the 2002 Highlander provides a high level of safety to its occupants in the event of a frontal collision. The Highlander also received five stars in the side impact test conducted by NHTSA, this means that occupants are protected against a crash from the side which is typically considered more dangerous compared to a frontal collision. It also earned the highest rating of “Good” in the IIHS offset frontal crash test, which indicates that the vehicle is well-designed to handle a potentially devastating crash.

Safety Features

The 2002 Highlander is equipped with numerous features that prioritize safety and security for the driver and passengers. One of the most essential safety features of the 2002 Highlander is its front and side airbags that deploy immediately in the event of an accident. The Highlander also comes with anti-lock brakes, which posses the ability to notify the driver during tough weather conditions. With its modern technology, the car’s traction control is capable of detecting when the wheels are slipping and automatically readjusts for better traction. Optional features like rearview camera and a tire-pressure monitoring system provide more peace of mind on the road knowing that the car is well-equipped.

Reliability and Maintenance

The Toyota Highlander has always been known for its reliability, and the 2002 model did not disappoint. With excellent safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS, owners can rest assured that this vehicle offers a high level of protection and dependability. Additionally, maintenance costs are low compared to other SUVs within the same category. Toyota’s standard warranty which includes three years or 36,000 miles of basic coverage and five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage provide optimal coverage for the vehicle and its owner. This makes it more affordable to maintain and protect for the long haul.

In conclusion, The 2002 Toyota Highlander is an ideal vehicle for anyone who values safety, reliability, and low maintenance costs. With high ratings in NHTSA and IIHS safety tests, its excellent safety features put it in a class of its own. Additionally, its high level of dependability makes it more convenient and affordable for car owners. Overall, the 2002 Toyota Highlander is a well-rounded vehicle for anyone seeking a capable and reliable SUV.

The Value of the 2002 Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander first made its debut in 2001 as a crossover SUV for the mid-size market. It was designed to meet the demands of those who wanted the benefits of an SUV, but with the handling and fuel efficiency of a car. The 2002 model year brought a few minor updates, but the Highlander’s value remained high.

Pricing and Resale Value

At its release, the 2002 Toyota Highlander had a starting price of around $23,000 for the base model. However, the price could increase up to $28,000 with added features such as all-wheel drive, leather upholstery, and a sunroof. Despite its higher price point, the Highlander was well worth the investment for many buyers.

The resale value of the 2002 Highlander held up well over time, with many models still selling for a decent price on the used car market. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Highlander was among the top 10 vehicles with the best resale value for 2002 models.

Consumer Satisfaction

The 2002 Toyota Highlander consistently received high marks from consumers for its reliability, comfort, and overall value. It was praised for its smooth handling and comfortable driving experience, making it an ideal family vehicle for daily commutes and long road trips.

One feature that stood out to many owners was the Highlander’s spacious interior, which could comfortably seat up to seven passengers. Additionally, the Highlander’s cargo space was generous, providing ample room for groceries, luggage, or sports equipment.

Numerous owners reported being satisfied with their purchase of the 2002 Highlander and would recommend the car to others. Its strong reputation for reliability and durability also made it a popular choice among used car buyers.

Comparisons to Similar Models

The Toyota Highlander faced stiff competition in the mid-size SUV market from other popular models such as the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape. While the Highlander had a higher price point than these models, it was considered a better overall value.

Compared to the Honda CR-V, the Highlander offered a larger and more powerful engine, which provided more acceleration and refinement on the road. The Ford Escape, while boasting better off-road capabilities, could not match the Highlander’s spacious interior and comfort.

Overall, the 2002 Toyota Highlander offered a superior package of versatility, performance, and comfort that set it apart from its competitors in the mid-size SUV market.

In conclusion, the 2002 Toyota Highlander offered great value for its price, with a comfortable interior, reliable performance, and strong resale value. It was a popular choice for buyers seeking a versatile vehicle that could handle both daily commutes and weekend adventures. Even today, over 20 years later, the Highlander continues to be a reliable and practical choice for SUV shoppers.

Bringing Your Highlander Back to Life

We hope this article has been a helpful guide in restoring your 2002 Toyota Highlander to its former glory. With some hard work, patience, and a little bit of know-how, your trusty SUV can once again look and perform like it did when you first purchased it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and remember to take your time with the restoration process. It’s not a race, and the end result will be worth it in the end.

Thank you for taking the time to read our article. We appreciate your interest in the 2002 Toyota Highlander, and we look forward to bringing you more helpful tips and insights in the future. Keep an eye out for our next article, and remember to give your Highlander the love and attention it deserves. Happy restoring!


1. What are some common issues with the 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: Some common issues with the 2002 Highlander include transmission problems, AC failures, and oil leaks.

2. Is it worth restoring a 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: Yes, it can be worth restoring a 2002 Toyota Highlander if the car is sentimental to you or has sentimental value to someone in your family. It can also be worth it if you can find a good deal on a used Highlander in need of restoration.

3. How much does it cost to restore a 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: The cost of restoring a 2002 Toyota Highlander will vary depending on the extent of the damage and the amount of work needed. It can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

4. How long does it take to restore a 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: The time it takes to restore a 2002 Toyota Highlander will depend on the extent of the damage and the amount of work needed. It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

5. Should I restore my 2002 Toyota Highlander or buy a new car?

A: This depends on your personal preference and budget. If you have strong sentimental attachment to your Highlander and it is in good condition overall, restoring it may be a good choice. If it is not in good condition or it would cost more to restore it than to buy a new car, buying a new car may be the better option.

6. Can I restore my 2002 Toyota Highlander myself?

A: Yes, you can restore your 2002 Toyota Highlander yourself if you have the proper tools and knowledge. However, it may be easier and more efficient to have a professional mechanic assist you with the restoration process.

7. Where can I find replacement parts for my 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: You can find replacement parts for your 2002 Toyota Highlander online or at your local auto parts store.

8. How often should I have my 2002 Toyota Highlander serviced?

A: Your Toyota Highlander should be serviced regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, which can be found in your owner’s manual.

9. What kind of oil should I use in my 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: You should use the type of oil recommended in your owner’s manual.

10. Should I replace or repair my 2002 Toyota Highlander?

A: This depends on the extent of the damage and the cost of repairs. If the repairs are extensive and costly, it may be more cost-effective to replace the vehicle. However, if the damage is minor and the repairs are relatively inexpensive, repairing the vehicle may be the better option.