HID Headlights for the New Toyota Highlander

A reader named Arthur recently contacted me with a question about headlight options on the 2014/2015 Toyota Highlander. He asked:

“Quick question. Does the new Highlander have an option for HID headlights, or is it only incandescent/halogen? Thanks.”

This is an excellent question, and the short answer is “no,” none of the current Highlander trim levels offer HID headlights as an option.

What are HID headlights?

In case you were wondering, HID stands for “high-intensity discharge,” which is a type of electrical gas-discharge lamp that makes more visible light per unit of electricity than a fluorescent or incandescent lamp.

The gas in this case is xenon.

On the road, you might recognize these are the bluish headlights that blind you as they approach. The benefit of HID lights (to the driver) is better visibility, particularly in the periphery.

The downside of HID lights is that they can blind those going in the opposite direction. This is especially true if they’re from a cheap, aftermarket kit.

HID headlights on the Highlander?

Anyway… Those who are hoping for HID headlights on their Highlander will be disappointed to learn that none of the current configurations offer them. Rather, in both 2014 and 2015, halogen headlights come standard at all trim levels, including the LE, LE Plus, XLE, and Limited.

The current (2015) wording in Toyota’s e-brochure is:

Exterior features: Projector-beam halogen smoked-chrome-accent headlights with auto on/off feature

The situation was essentially the same in 2014, though you didn’t get the “smoked-chrome-accent” until you went up to the Limited trim level. So the LE, LE Plus and XLE had regular chrome, I guess. For what it’s worth, I have a 2014 XLE and I have no idea what they’re talking about.

The only other lighting options are that you get fog lights on the LE Plus and above, and the Limited trim level adds LED daytime running lights (DRL). The lower trim levels still have DRLs, but not LED.

Oh, and if you opt for the tech package (available on the Limited trim level, but not on LE/Plus or XLE)you get the automatic high beam (AHB) system. Note that the tech package is included with the top-end Platinum package.

What about aftermarket HID kits?

Of course, the lack of an HID option doesn’t stop you from swapping out your headlights after the fact. But please be aware that most of the aftermarket “conversion” kits that you see for sale involve the installation of an HID lamp in the OEM (halogen) enclosure. This is a bad idea. Why?

Well, as it turns out, such kits are likely to be illegal for road use. The concern, according to the NHTSA, is that such HID conversion kits can produce excessive glare for oncoming traffic. Not good.

As always… If you have any experience with this sort of thing, I invite you to chime in by leaving a comment below.

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7 comments… add one
  • Scott Jun 27, 2015

    Unfortunately us Limited owners in Canada don’t even get the LED Daytime Running Lights. I recently wrote Toyota Canada to inquire as to why, and this is the reply.

    Thank you for your recent correspondence concerning your 2015 Highlander.

    With regard to the options available, such in the case of LED daytime running lights, market trends are closely studied to give us a better idea of what vehicles and options are in demand. Then based on our findings, our Product Planning department is able to choose those vehicles and options that best suit the needs of the buying public in Canada. We recognize, of course, that these choices may not meet the needs and fulfill the desires of all potential customers. However, we have noted your comments and have forwarded them to our Product Planning department for their information and future consideration.

    Thank you again for taking the time to write.


    Christopher Krascek
    Customer Interaction Centre

  • Donald Sep 27, 2015

    Hi – recently got a 2015 and the headlights are very weak, any suggestions to swap it with something to make it brighter and whiter? Thanks!

  • Lin Dec 10, 2016

    Our household has a 2015 and 2016 Highlander and the headlights totally stink! If there is something to switch out, would love to know what. Find the lights on low even dangerous at times when turning down dark roads as you can almost miss them. Have even considered trading the car in! Someone at Toyota has to have heard of the complaints and done something about this!

  • Norris Jan 14, 2017

    Was in the process of buying the 2017 Toyota Highlander Limited until I was made aware it does not have HID headlights, so I bought a Subaru Outback which is standard in the Limited Editions.
    It’s time Toyota should consider this option.

  • Larry Russell Jan 16, 2017

    Is there a way to keep charging your cell phone through one of the power ports after the engine is turned off?

  • Vic Feb 8, 2017

    If I install HID kit in my 2017 Toyota Highlander is that gonna any affect to the headlight projecter beam?

  • short Dec 27, 2017

    We bought the 2017 Subaru Forester for the good headlights (you have to get the highest level to make the option available). They even turn a bit when you go around corners to help see through/around the curve. Very very nice.

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