The Toyota Highlander has always been a great choice for families needing an SUV/crossover a little roomier than the compact products in this class. Available configured for seven or eight passengers, the three-row truck can easily handle a large family and all they stuff they need to take on a road trip. Toyota points out that the Highlander has been the best-selling product in its segment since 2017 in Canada.
For 2020, the Highlander is all-new and the fourth generation of a mid-sized SUV/crossover that’s been with us now for 22 years, an impressive run. You can buy your Highlander with either a powerful V-6 or a thrifty hybrid powertrain. Buyers can choose front-wheel drive or a new dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive with driveline disconnect and multi-terrain select. While the Highlander is not presented as a serious off-roader, (Toyota has the 4Runner for that) it will certainly handle challenging weather conditions and not-too-gnarly offroad scenarios, especially with the AWD.
The new Highlander is a handsome vehicle from every angle and features all kinds of imaginative sculpturing around the bodywork. The flared rear wheel arches give the truck a purposeful, trail-worthy stance. The Highlander is a unibody vehicle rather than body-on-frame like a pickup or an offroad SUV. The look of the Highlander is described by Toyota as “sophisticated” and it certainly has an upscale aura about it. It’s an interesting design exercise and certainly more “interesting” than previous, rather boxy, products in the lineup.
The gasoline version of this SUV offers a fuel consumption figure of 10.7-litres/100 km combined city/highway, impressive for a powerful 295-horsepower V-6. Obviously you get even better mileage with the hybrid – 6.9-litres/100 km combined.
Since this is a Toyota, it goes without saying that it’s an exceptionally safe vehicle. Featured is Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control; lane departure alert with steering assist; automatic high beam and a new lane tracing assist system. This package is included with all models in the Highlander range. All variants have eight air bags
The first impression this Toyota makes is its roominess and generous space for both occupants and cargo. Fold some seats down and you have almost the equivalent of a delivery van, a useful point when picking up bulky items like furniture now and again. Trim levels, incidentally, include L, LE and top-of-the-line XLE and all offer great comfort and a wonderful cabin ambiance. A backup camera is standard and the 12.3-inch infotainment screen is claimed the largest in the segment.
Toyota has done a fine job updating one of its most popular products and there’s no reason to think that it won’t continue to be a sales leader in its class.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: 7/8 seater SUV/crossover
ENGINE: V-6 or new-generation hybrid
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
TOWING CAPACITY: 5,000 lbs (V-6)
FUEL ECONOMY: 10.7-litres/100 km gasoline, 6.9-litres/100 km hybrid (combined city/highway figures)
PRICE: To be announced (current model starts at $31,500 approx.)