The Highlander debuted in the US market as a 2001 model. The Toyota Highlander initially had a very plain, bland styling inside and out. Using Camry’s underpinnings, the first Highlander had more of a Subaru Forester resemblance, with its boxy, upright stance. The Toyota Highlander from 2001-2007 had many advantages, including a handy tall interior space and great visibility with plenty of glass. Light weighted for its size and equipped with a choice of either a 160-hp 4-cylinder powerplant with a choice of a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic or a 220-hp V-6, only with the 4-speed automatic. AWD was a popular option in this generation. For the 2004 model year, the Highlander received a new 3.3-liter V-6; that produced 230 hp and was mated with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Highlander's 4-cylinder engine continued and carried over from before. A third-row seat was made available in 2004 as optional, providing more seating options than in competitors like the Ford Edge and Honda Pilot. This model also received slight aesthetic minimal changes. In 2006, a mild-hybrid version of the V-6 AWD was added. The system and its batteries and motors were shared with the Lexus RX 400h that was also introduced that year. There were only small improvements in fuel economy for both models over their standard V-6 counterparts. For the 2008 model year, a new Toyota Highlander arrived, the changes it bore may be considered somewhat of a mixed blessing. This new generation was much larger, but also much softer in driving feel, and also more impressively finished inside. The four-cylinder version produced 187 hp and was coupled with a 6-speed automatic. It still wasn't as refined as Toyota's small fours used to be. There was a large, automatic-only, 270-hp V-6 option, that was better suited to the hefty second-generation Highlander. Neither version felt very connected or responsive from the dynamic standpoint, a problem aggravated by that generation's optional Hybrid powertrain. Toyota had initially planned to move assembly for this generation from Japan to a new facility in Blue Springs, Mississippi. The recession and sluggish Highlander sales put that plan on hold. The plant was later repurposed for Corolla assembly after some delayed and changed plans. In 2008, Toyota imported Japanese-built Highlanders. Starting with the 2010 model year, Toyota sources U.S. editions from its Indiana assembly plant. For the 2011 model year, the Highlander underwent a large upgrade, with a new front-end look that mimics the one on the Venza crossover and a standard third-row seat on non-Hybrid models. The 2011 Hybrid edition saw its gas-engine displacement increased from 3.3 liters to 3.5 liters, improving gas mileage while adding 10 additional hp, for a total of 280 hp. In 2013, Toyota introduced on base models, new infotainment systems with a USB port as well as Bluetooth audio and hands-free calling connectivity. In 2013, a Highlander Plus model was also added, sitting between the base and the SE models, adding useful features such as roof rails, a trip computer, second-row reading lamps, and a cargo cover.