10 top tips on buying a used Toyota Highlander in Nigeria


Posted by: Joshua-Philip Okeafor

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Have you been bitten by the Toyota Highlander bug? You are not alone as thousands love this SUV. There's an art to buying a used one though.

To begin

The Toyota Highlander is a true definition of sport, comfort, versatility and automotive advancement. A critical look at Toyota cars in general should authenticate that the Highlander is one of Toyota’s best autos so far. If you desire to buy a Toyota Highlander but are experiencing some cold feet, due perhaps to the high price tag on the new ones, the very practical alternative is to think in the direction of a used Toyota Highlander. That way you still get to enjoy that fun ride on a Highlander you have craved for.

The secrets of buying a used Toyota Highlander and getting value of your money are many and diverse. However, as always naijauto.com has your back fully, as we present these solid tips to purchase your used Toyota Highlander well and cheap. Here goes:


Toyota Highlander is a good choice for a used SUV

1. Find out more

Yep, it never gets old. Knowledge is power so do your research about Toyota Highlanders in general and used versions more specifically. Talk to everyone, friends, family, and the neighborhood mechanic. Vital info to source includes possible price, common problems and so on.   

2. Go for the later models

You might have a particular year’s model in mind when you initiate your search for the perfect used Toyota Highlander, but whichever model you have in mind, please do go for one of the latter models. Do not go for the 2001, 2002, 2003 models.

Why you may ask? It is because during those years, Toyota manufactured Highlanders lacking in some functionalities available in later versions. Starting from 2005 and on, the Toyota SUV was equipped with a better engine and few other engineering upgrades were tacked on too. If you go for the 2003 model and below, you will be missing out on some important safety features. Toyota began to install the new safety features from the year 2005. Additionally, people who used the car in those first three years complained of issues like:

  • Excess oil usage in the 2002 model
  • Engine failure in the 2002 model
  • Engine bolt stripped in 2003

Though there was a high incidence of complaints for the later 2008 model also, those three years seem to have the highest dissatisfied customers. If your budget fits only the 2001, 2002 or 2003 models, then its best to save up for the later models so you don’t buy it only to waste additional expenses on foreseen repairs.

3. Get the hybrid

Toyota Highlander now comes in the standard/regular and the hybrid versions but for some very good reasons, the hybrid version is better than the standard version. In Nigeria, one thing we are constantly on the watch for when buying a car is fuel economy. With the Toyota Highlander Hybrid (of any year’s model) you should expect super fuel efficiency. This is because its V6 gasoline engine, electric powertrain, horsepower and mpg rating have been integrated to result in the best performance.

>>> You might want to check out: 12 best SUVs - Top fuel economy SUV cars in Nigeria

Then if you are into ‘all-wheel drive’, then this is another good advantage, because the standard or regular Highlander comes with front wheel drive only.


Interior of a used Toyota Highlander Hybrid 

4. Engine matters

Another thing you should look out for when buying your used Toyota Highlander is the engine. Though this may be your personal choice as you might have a preference, it’s advisable you get one with a 3.3L or 3.5L engine. Anything below this is not wise. Though, this is for the standard version. The hybrid version compensates with its electric engine.

5. Best trims

When you are buying your used Toyota Highlander seek for the best trim that has everything you need. It must not always be the top of the line Limited trim, though, many owners want different things in a vehicle, such as Cargo space, or more seating. Usually, though Toyota tends to cram the best features into the premium trims and not the base trim. Most of the latest infotainment system, safety driving, anti-theft features, and so on, can be found in the premium trims.

This doesn’t mean that the base trims are left out without consideration or are significantly less equipped, but truth be told, there is always a bit of a features gap between the premium trims and base trims, no matter the version or the year.

6. Previous usage

It’s a good thing that Nigeria’s Customs Service is preventing the importation of cars above fifteen years; this prevents the importation of a damaged car. Even if you are buying within Nigeria, do not buy a Toyota Highlander that has been used for a very long time.

Yes, a lot of owners have been using their Highlanders without issues for a very long time because of its durability. When it comes to you buying, however, such a car is a total waste of money. Look for one that has been used for a certain period of time like 5 years or below. You can always use the car’s mileage to judge.

>>> Do you know all about car mileage? Check out: Car mileage or Gas mileage? Differences & top fuel economy cars   


Large cargo space and foldable seats are parts of the advantages of a Toyota Highlander

7. Scrutiny: give the car a systematic going over

This is one mistake many people make when they are buying a used car; they don’t thoroughly check out the car. Before you pay for your Highlander, check up on every single feature of the car, using a mechanic preferably.

Common problems to check for:

  1. Check the car engine to see its condition: You don’t want to find yourself buying a new engine after buying the car. It’s super expensive.
  2. Check for any oil leakage: where the car is parked you can easily spot the spilt oil on the floor or on the engine itself. This is a bad sign.
  3. Check for any rust at the bottom or under the vehicle, exhaust, radiators, and muffler.
  4. Verify all the standard and common safety features such as the indicator lights, brakes, headlights, fuel gauge, horn, and wipers, to know if they are working properly. Also check to see the infotainment and other driver assist systems are a go.
  5. Check the cylinder; if the car piston ring has a gap; never buy that car. Changing of the cylinder, pistol or rings can be quite costly.
  6. Check for any leakage in the air filter, valves and also if the rubber lining on the doors is all in good condition. Otherwise you could have rain leaking into the car.
  7. Gears matter: if you are offered 2 used Toyota Highlanders with 4 speed and 5-speed transmissions, it’s best to choose the one with a 5 speed gear.
  8. Check for any worn out parts or peeling in the car interior; the seats, steering wheel or the cabin. It’s a sign of age or careless use.
  9. Take a test drive if possible. This is very important as during a test drive you get to see firsthand whether the car drives well, as well as test stuff like car brakes or notice any other fault. Feel the steering wheel in your hands to know how firm it is. Try testing the brake for any vibrations by applying it lightly at 40mph. If there is a vibration without down-shifting,  the brake pad or the steering pinion is faulty.


The Toyota Highlander is rugged and reliable even on Nigerian roads

8. The mileage

The mileage of the car is critical information you should have when buying your used Toyota Highlander. It’s best to buy a car with an ‘average’ or ‘low’ mileage. For most cars, 12,000 miles a year is considered a proper measure, so a mileage of 60,000 equaling five years is okay. Now, many modern cars with 100K-150K miles are in great condition. Never by a used Toyota Highlander with more than 150k in mileage.

9. Price

Purely as a general indicator, your used Toyota Highlander should be around these prices in Nigeria:

Foreign used or Tokunbo Toyota Highlander prices in Nigeria  
 Tokunbo Toyota Highlander 2005 -2010  3 million – ₦5.2 million
 Tokunbo Toyota Highlander 2011-2017  ₦6.5 million – ₦16.5 million
Nigerian Toyota Highlander prices in Nigeria
 Nigerian used Toyota Highlander  2005-2010  2 million – ₦4.2 million
 Nigerian used Toyota Highlander 2011-2017  ₦4.5 million – and above

10. Large family seating

Toyota Highlander comes with 7 or 8 seating options. If you have an extra-large family then the 8 seating trim might come in handy. Just know that the third row is more comfy for kids and it can be folded to create more cargo space.  The car is perfect for road trips as there is enough space for everyone.


7 or 8 seater options make this SUV a great option for a large family


There you have it, solid tips to drive a good bargain when buying your used Toyota Highlander. Happy buying spree!

Joshua-Philip Okeafor
Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Joshua-Philip Okeafor

Car buying & selling

Joshua, or KK as friends call him, is a Filmmaker, Writer and Director. A Christian, Joshua is a product of Nigeria’s foremost film school, the National Film Institute, Jos, where he majored in Writing/Directing. Joshua began his writing career at age 18 when an older brother gave him a four page outline of a children novel. Joshua intends to keep writing and directing. His screen name is sometimes Joshua Kalu Ephraim (Writing), and sometimes Joshua KK (directing).

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