Listening to Text Messages in Your Toyota Highlander

For all its warts, there are certain things that I like about the Entune audio system. For example, once you’ve configured everything properly, it can read your incoming text messages aloud as you’re driving around town.

Unfortunately, when we first picked up our Highlander at the dealership, I couldn’t get this feature to work. For the record, I was using an iPhone 5S, and I kept getting a cryptic error message about having to do something on the mobile device. What the what?

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out was wrong, and neither could our salesman. But then one of his co-workers sauntered over with an iPhone-specific solution. And, thankfully, it was a very simple fix.

For those of you with an iPhone, here’s the scoop…

Enabling text-to-voice with an iPhone

Assuming that you’ve already paired your phone with the audio system, you just need to go to the Bluetooth settings on your phone, click the “i” (for info) button next to “TOYOTA Highlander,” and then toggle the “Show Notifications” setting to enable it. That’s it.

The next time you receive a text message while you’re in motion, you’ll be given the option of having it read aloud. Just tap the touchscreen and listen (or tap to ignore or call the sender back). When you’re stopped, the text of the message will appear on the touchscreen so you can read it yourself.

Sadly, the Entune system doesn’t appear to support the composition of outgoing text messages on the iPhone. This should be possible with an Android phone, though that might depend on the particular flavor of Android that your phone is running.

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31 comments… add one
  • Mark Nov 24, 2014

    Good info on the messinging. Couldn’t find this tip anywhere else.
    Nice reviews and other info. Keep up the good work!

  • Kristin Dec 4, 2014

    Thanks! For the life of me I could not figure this out!

  • Paul Feb 3, 2015

    I got your tip right here!

  • Kathy Feb 11, 2015

    Thanks for this. Now if I could only get my iphone 5 to STAY connected. I get the “x” at least twice a month. Last week it disconnected twice in the same day. In the driving rain, when hands free sure would’ve been helpful. In fact, it has disconnected on EVERY road trip since I bought the 2014 Highlander last March.

  • Eddie Cross Mar 8, 2015

    Thank you.. it worked great on 2015 Highlander Limited Plat and Iphone 6 Plus

  • Larry Forshaw Mar 29, 2015

    I love getting my text messages on my 2014 Highlander, but how can I turn down the “beep” announcing the text message, it’s waay too loud.

    • Hmacdonald Jan 2, 2016

      Hi Larry!
      Just wondering if you ever figured this out? I find the beep very annoying and would like to turn it off.


      • Matthew Nelson Jan 8, 2016

        Not sure if you figured out a solution to decreasing the volume of the notifications in your Highlander.

        I just purchased a 2016 4Runner and am learning the Engine system. I discovered I can control both notification sounds (the actual chime sound) and the volume under the “Phone” app. I believe there’s an “Options” button that grants you access to personalize these settings.

  • guy nelli Apr 27, 2015

    do i need the entune app to receive text messages in my 2015 Highlander ltd? (i’m using a iPhone6)

  • isaiah hughes May 7, 2015

    I did what you said and mines still does not work. I have an iphone 5s. Took it to the dealership and he tells me that the iphone is not supported by the 2015 HIGHLANDER PLATINUM. I am really going crazy trying to get it to work. HEEEELPPPPPPP!!!

  • silvia May 15, 2015

    This is now broken after the Lollipop update on my Galaxy S4. I don’t think it would work with an S5 or S6 because it’s the same Android OS version, 5.0.1. It was nice while it worked. 🙁

  • Craig Jul 10, 2015

    This worked great until the most recent update to iOS. Now even though show notifications is on, I still get the alert, but when I press play, nothing happens.

    • Mandy Jul 17, 2015

      Craig were you able to find a solution to this? It happened to me as well. I used to be able to read the messages out loud but now it just shows a blank text screen while moving.

  • Hec Sep 23, 2015

    My wife’s iphone 5s won’t work either. She not on the newest ios though. My iphone 6 with ios 8 works no problem. I’ll update her phone and see if that fixes it. I’m wondering if the USB is causing a conflict too. It is normally plugged in for charging but we’re connecting via bluetooth for main connection. I’ll test it out and report back.

  • Euan Jan 29, 2016

    2016 Highlander Limited. Enabled notifications on my iPhone 6 a few weeks ago after some searching online. I’m not sure if it was an iOS update or the Entune system but it only give me the option to read the text here and there. Most of the time it just tells me I have one and the only option is to “ignore.” Pretty annoying.

    • Ashleigh Fields May 18, 2016

      Same here. I’ve had mine about a month and the first couple of weeks worked perfectly but now it’s hit and miss. Have you found any solution?

    • theresa Jan 18, 2017

      worked long enough to get me hooked now all I get is ignore. Making me crazy

  • Susan Gal Feb 6, 2016

    Thank you so much for this info. I have my toyota for 6 months already and couldnt figure out how to fix it. This is the best tip on the internet.


  • Toyia Mar 16, 2016

    Thank you so much. So helpful. Could not figure out what to do and such an easy fix.

  • Paul Apr 6, 2016

    I have a 2016 Highlander and a Galaxy S5 with 5.1 Lollipop. Messages and Twitter feed transfers fine but not email. The manual, the dealership and Toyota Canada say it should work but no one seems to know how.

  • Amy Jul 7, 2016

    I just got a 2016 Highlander XLE and I have an iPhone 6. All other features work in my car except messaging. Every time I restart the car I have to “set up messaging” again. If I don’t, it will notify me on screen that I have a text message but will not give me the option to click read. I have “show notifications” turned on in my phone’s Bluetooth settings. I went back to the dealer yesterday and he disconnected the phone and removed Toyota Highlander from the phone. That seemed to temporarily work but a few hours and restarts later it’s asking me to set up messaging again. I am at a loss and so are they. Any suggestions?

  • Monica Jul 16, 2016

    Hi. Love your site! My messaging in my 2016 4 runner doesn’t always work. Sometimes they will play, sometimes it chimes and my only option is to ignore and then sometimes it doesn’t even notify me. I have an iPhone 6. I tried to delete my phone and pair again but that didn’t help.

    Any suggestions?

  • Josh Jul 28, 2016

    I have a 15′ highlander Limited and an IPhone 6. I love the option of the vehicle reading my texts. Never had an issue with it working. As far as outgoing messages, since I have an IPhone I have Siri. I leave my phone in the convenient dash shelf and just push and hold the home button on my IPhone and tell Siri to “text message (contact)” and she sends the message for me. All while using the microphone and car speakers. Hands free texting while driving for simple messages.

  • Kevin Jul 30, 2016

    I have a 2016 Highlander and a Galaxy S7. Everything works great and connects correctly except I can’t listen to my Verizon voicemail for anything longer than 5 seconds or so and it “ends the call”. Any thoughts?

  • Peg Jan 26, 2017

    I have a 15 Highlander. When someone texts me while I am driving, they get a reply that says, (auto Reply) I’m driving right no- I’ll get back to you later.” while this is fine and dandy, if my husband is driving my vehicle, I would like to receive the texts…. any solution??

  • John Feb 23, 2017

    I have a 2017 highlander and have a message logged on that I need to remove.. How do I do it. Thanks

  • Andrea Jun 7, 2017

    I have a Samsung Galaxy s7 that I have paired to my 2017 4runner. Sometimes the text to speech option works while I am in motions, and others I get a message saying that it will not read a text message while the vehicle is in motion. Any ideas how to fix this so that it will always read my message to me while in motion?

    • Andrea Jun 7, 2017

      I should clarify that I want the entune system to read aloud my text messages.

  • Mary Oct 11, 2017

    My messages go to my I watch and not my screen on my highlander 2017

  • Davie Apr 7, 2018

    Do you have a Tile product on your keychain. I had Tile Mate and through a series of events I finally realized that the Tile App was keeping my stereo from reading my texts and emails to me. I took it off and I no longer have a problem.

  • Anna Jan 1, 2019

    My 2016 highlander will not allow my IPhone 7 Plus to pair up with messaging. It is saying that it does not support this feature.

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