2020 Toyota Highlander: The original gets completely revamped
The Toyota Highlander is new for 2020.
bigger, bolder and better all around.
This three row crossover has been overhauled from grill to lift gate for the latest model year.
Now entering its fourth generation, the Highlander gains fresh style, a raft of new technology and an interior that's more premium than before.
What's not to like?
Well, good question.
I'm sure I'll find something.
Seriously, I'm not doing my job unless I'm complaining.
This new Highlander looks a lot like the model it's replacing with a big old grill up front and a number of familiar forms on the body.
But I happen to think this one looks a lot more elegant and sophisticated, at least to my eye.
This utility vehicle will be offered in five different trims.
There's L, LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum.
Now, the Hybrid variant is making a return for 2020.
And it will be offered in all of those grades except L, that's the cheap one.
Like practically every redesigned vehicle, the new Highlander here has grown.
Its two inches and change longer than before the wheelbase has been stretched slightly and it's a little bit broader to facilitating these increases.
This vehicle is based on a version of the automakers TNGA platform which is rapidly proliferating.
Throughout Toyota's lineup.
Not only does that body stretch make the new Highlander, a thick boy, as the kids are saying these days really swole it provides more interior space up to 84.3 cubic feet when all the rear seats are stowed.
That's a tiny bit more than the outgoing Highlander and Honda's pilot offer But a cubes less than what the new Ford Explorer provides.
For maximum capaciousness, you'll probably want a Volkswagen Atlas, it's by far the roomiest of these competitors.
If hauling folks instead of freight is a priority, the 2020 Highlander can seat either seven or eight people, depending on whether it's equipped with a second-row bench seat or captain's chairs.
And when it's time to weigh anchor, you'll be thankful the Highlanders base four cylinder engine has been given the old heave ho.
That means all standard versions are now powered by a 3.5 liter gasoline burning V6 matched to an eight speed automatic transmission.
Now, this combo delivers 295 horses with 263 pound feet of torque, exactly the same as before.
Fortunately, these figures are perfectly competitive with the Pilot and Atlas.
Though, the Explorer is significantly more muscular, offering up to 400 horses.
As for the Highlander Hybrid, it features a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine and a couple electric motors that deliver 243 horsepower all together.
Now, the big news is it's up to 24% more efficient than the outgoing Highlander Hybrid, delivering up to 36 miles per gallon combined.
Also new for the 2020 model year, you can get the Highlander Hybrid in all wheel drive or front wheel drive.
Inside there's plenty to crow about this utility vehicles cabin is beautifully built and comprised mostly a very nice materials.
Though the dashboard design is unusually a symmetrical, at least it has lots of storage cubbies.
Seating comfort gets high praise in the first and second rows though the third row is probably best left to the kids as with other vehicles in this class When it comes to technology, there is plenty.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard on all versions of the new Highlander.
It includes things like adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, roadside recognition and much more.
Three zone climate control is also included across the board though LE and higher versions also come with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert at no extra cost.
Stepping up the ladder limited in Platinum models Km with a 1200 watt 11 speaker JBL sound system.
Platinum versions also have a 12.3 inch screen, which is also offered unlimited versions, lesser variants of the Highlander.
Well, they make do with an eight inch.
Unfortunately though, on this screen, you get a typical Toyota infotainment system, which is unfortunate.
It's quite confusing and it's not very responsive.
I think they could do a much better job in this area.
At least Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Alexa Integration weighs compatibility and even in-vehicle WiFi are all standard.
And I also hear going forward Toyota may introduce Microsoft DOS for Dashboard.
It brings command line convenience to your drive.
Okay, now that the engine start executable is running, I can talk to you about how the new Highlander drives.
One of the first things I noticed about this vehicle is its Lexus levels of refinement.
Yeah, it's really smooth, solid.
As for performance, the E6 powered Highlander is perfectly fine.
It's got plenty of scoots.
However, it's not as quick as I thought it would be.
Actually earlier in the week I was reviewing a Honda Odyssey minivan and it was noticeably punchier than the Highlander here.
I'm not sure if it's a gearing or wait issue, but the Toyota really should feel faster.
I think As for the hybrid, there's really nothing to complain about aside from a little bit of grumbling four cylinder noises from under the hood, though that's more than offset by the superior fuel economy and of course the Silent Running in electric only mode.
On the subject of consumption, a front wheel drive, V6-powered model should get you 21 miles per gallon around town, 29 highway, and 24 MPG combined.
Now, if you go for all wheel drive, naturally, it does degrade those figures a little bit.
Expect 2027 and 23 respectively.
As for the hybrid, you'll get 36 miles per gallon around town, 35 Highway and 36 combined if you go with front wheel drive, [UNKNOWN] quarter traction instead and you get 35 mpg right now Across the board.
For extra versatility, the Highlander can also be fitted with an optional trailer towing package.
Now this includes, among other things, a heavy duty radiator with an engine oil cooler and a better performing fan.
Now this package allows you to tow up to 5000 pounds.
The new Toyota Highlander is a fine three row crossover.
Now, I don't know whether I prefer it to say a pilot or a palisade but it is an excellent all around choice.
Very smooth and quiet and refined.
And when you factor in Toyota's reputation for both quality and resale value, well, it becomes an easy product to recommend.
Look for this crossover at dealerships right now though the hybrid variant is not slated to go on sale until early next year.
As for pricing, a base V6 powered l model is going to cost about $35,720 including 1120 bucks.
In destination fees, as for the hybrid, there is a 1400 dollar up charge for that version.
And of course, if you check every available box, you should have no trouble spending more than 50 grand on the new Toyota Highlander.
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