The 2023 Toyota Highlander stays a robust three-row SUV alternative, should you select the hybrid. It is amazingly environment friendly, delivering 35 mpg mixed with all-wheel drive. Not solely is it an enormous benefit over the traditional gas-powered Highlander, it represents an enormous benefit over nearly each different SUV in its class.
On the flip facet, there’s the traditional Highlander. And now, it is a worse SUV to drive. Toyota dropped the silky V6 in favor of a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder. It apparently has fewer emissions than the V6, however with a single mile-per-gallon enchancment and a a lot noisier, extra disagreeable driving expertise, it is a downgrade in our e book.
No matter engine, you continue to get stable dealing with, a sexy and usable inside, and Toyota’s repute and subsequent resale worth. A smaller third-row seat and cargo space are particular demerits, particularly in a category the place area is a main issue within the buy, and due to that, choices such because the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Subaru Ascent and Nissan Pathfinder may very well be higher for you.
In the event you don’t want that a lot room, nevertheless, the Highlander Hybrid is an unmatched possibility for its effectivity, and is unquestionably price a glance. The non-hybrid Highlander? Not a lot.
Inside & Expertise | Passenger & Cargo Area | Efficiency & Gasoline Financial system
What it is prefer to drive | Pricing & Options | Crash Scores & Security Options
What’s new for 2023?
The Highlander has dropped its V6 engine possibility in favor of a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder. It delivers much less energy, however rather more torque. It is also very barely extra environment friendly. The infotainment system has been up to date to run on the system featured on different new Lexus and Toyota fashions. The usual touchscreen measures 8 inches, and the upgraded one is 12.3 inches. It additionally options wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Some minor characteristic modifications for some trims have additionally been carried out.
What are the Highlander inside and in-car expertise like?
Admittedly, the image above is indicative of the upper XLE, Restricted and Platinum trims – the decrease L and LE are reasonably dour and monochromatic affairs. But, even these have above-average inside high quality, and since these dear trims are typically standard, it is price extolling their virtues a bit. The earthy two-tone coloration schemes are distinctive, heat and usually inviting. The silver trim that wraps across the management binnacle like a fork is textured to make it look richer and extra like precise metallic. The wooden trim on the sprint and middle console, be it actual or not, is delicate and tasteful. The padded SofTex vinyl that covers a lot of the sprint, doorways and middle console is nice to the touch, whereas the actual leather-based on the seats is buttery tender. All of the switchgear is nice to the touch and function.
Commonplace on most trim ranges is an 8-inch touchscreen interface, which is mounted excessive inside simple attain and sight. The accessible 12.3-inch unit is basically comparable by way of its fundamental and operation, however positive factors performance by adopting a widescreen orientation. The working system is the latest that Toyota has to supply, that includes vivid, minimalist graphics and pure speech recognition. It is responsive and runs shortly. The shortcut icons on the facet closest to the motive force are simple to succeed in, however they sadly disappear whenever you use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, that means it’s a must to click-click-click to flee the Apple/Android interfaces reasonably than utilizing a easy Dwelling button like Toyota used to characteristic. There are different annoyances we found, significantly with the radio operation, that may make the brand new system much less user-friendly than Toyota’s earlier ones.
How large is the Highlander?
The Highlander is smaller than most of its rivals on the surface, which makes it barely extra manageable to maneuver and park. Maybe there is a higher probability of it becoming inside your storage. We’re solely speaking a couple of inches, although, because the Highlander continues to be an awfully large automobile.
Not surprisingly, although, it additionally has one of many section’s smallest interiors. It is extra akin to Kia’s Sorento than the larger Telluride, as an illustration. There’s only a bit much less headroom all over the place, but it surely’s the third row that is noticeably a lot smaller than these of rivals. Even the Subaru Ascent, which has comparable exterior dimensions, can match average-sized adults in its third row. So can also the bigger Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade amongst others. Even when youngsters are those who regularly use third-row seats, they are going to be much less comfy within the Highlander’s.
No less than the second row presents loads of area (a bench is commonplace however you possibly can go for captain’s chairs), and the sliding seats are mounted at a peak that enables adults and teenagers to be comfy for hours on finish. Consolation is great up entrance, too, as the motive force seat presents considerable adjustability and simple reaches to the steering wheel and infotainment controls.
Cargo area is available in at 16 cubic toes behind the third row of seats, 48.4 cubic toes behind the second row, and 84.3 with all of the rear seats folded. Regardless of the stable numbers, the Toyota nonetheless presents much less area when all of the seats are raised primarily based on our baggage take a look at of the Highlander in addition to these of its rivals. There’s much less once they’re lowered too, however that is not as a lot of a problem because you’re mainly coping with various levels of monumental.
What are the Highlander gasoline financial system and efficiency specs?
Here is the place the Highlander is an enormous winner, no less than regarding the hybrid. The electrified Highlander makes use of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with electrical motors that produce a web output of 243 horsepower. That is not a lot for the section, however then no giant three-row crossover comes near its gasoline financial system. EPA estimates weren’t accessible for 2023 on the time of this writing, however we anticipate them to be nearly the identical: 36 mpg mixed with front-wheel drive or 35 mpg with non-compulsory all-wheel drive (it makes use of a second electrical motor on the rear axle).
The turbocharged four-cylinder then again ought to be skipped if potential. In contrast to the silky outgoing V6 with spectacular horsepower for its class, the turbo engine is loud, clattery and has much less horsepower than most rivals. It does characteristic rather more torque than most at 310 pound-feet (a rise of 47 versus the outgoing V6), however the rough-sounding engine makes it sound prefer it’s laboring tougher. And whereas Toyota claims lowered emissions, the proprietor would not reap a lot of an effectivity profit from the turbo engine. Full numbers have not been introduced, but it surely apparently delivers 25 mpg in mixed driving, a 1-mpg enchancment over the V6. Presumably, these numbers are for the front-wheel-drive fashions.
The excellent news is that the turbo engine retains the graceful and pretty responsive eight-speed automated. Entrance-wheel drive is commonplace, and two all-wheel-drive methods can be found: a fundamental one which sends energy to the rear wheels when further traction is required, and a extra superior system for the XSE, Restricted and Platinum that may additionally differ the quantity of energy between the left and proper rear wheels to additional improve traction (AKA torque vectoring).
What is the Highlander prefer to drive?
That is by far the perfect Highlander to drive but, and can also be one of the crucial composed autos within the section. It would not really feel that large behind the wheel, and the chassis and steering work properly in live performance with one another to create a driving expertise that feels constant no matter whether or not you are driving the children to high school, on a protracted freeway journey or end up on a winding mountain highway. It isn’t an athlete like a Mazda CX-9, and we doubt the brand new Highlander XSE will flip up the dial that a lot both, however compared to different household haulers, the Highlander properly balances experience consolation and reassuring dealing with. There is a Sport mode you possibly can choose, however the modifications to the steering, throttle and transmission are tough to detect.
The bottom turbo four-cylinder is loud, gruff and sounds strained when pushed. Acceleration is actually ample, simply delivered with lots of grievance. Luckily, the transmission is easy, and not one of the different positives such because the experience, dealing with and agency brakes have been compromised with the brand new engine. It ought to come as no shock that we just like the Highlander Hybrid higher. It feels pleasantly fast off the road round city, and in sure situations, will simply hum alongside on electrical energy solely. You additionally get the identical above-average experience and dealing with because the turbo Highlander and, in fact, unbeatable gasoline financial system for a modest worth premium that might shortly be paid off in fuel financial savings. Now, we are going to say that should you spend lots of time on the freeway and tend to do lots of passing whereas there, the Hybrid might be not the only option for you. You positively discover its meager horsepower for a automobile its dimension, and Toyota’s hybrid system unappealingly drones when underneath a heavy foot. However no less than the electrical motors offer you some reprieve among the time, not like with the turbo engine.
What different Toyota Highlander opinions can I learn?
Toyota Highlander Platinum Inside Overview
On this evaluate and video, we talk about intimately the Highlander’s engaging and well-made inside. The infotainment tech has modified since then however every part else nonetheless applies.
Toyota Highlander Baggage Check
The Highlander gained more room behind its third row for the newest era, however stays one of many smallest within the section. We put that area to the take a look at. Notice that this was one of many earlier baggage exams we have performed with a lot of the remainder of the section examined thereafter. You could find all Baggage Checks right here.
2020 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid First Drive
Our first driving impressions of each the V6 Highlander and the Highlander Hybrid, together with extra details about what’s new, its engineering and design.
How a lot is the 2023 Toyota Highlander worth and what options can be found?
Pricing begins at $37,755 for the bottom turbo-powered Highlander L, together with the $1,335 vacation spot cost. Pricing for the Highlander Hybrid pricing begins at $41,555, however its base trim is the LE. All-wheel drive is a $1,600 to $1,950 possibility relying on the trim stage.
Even the bottom Highlander L comes commonplace with a full complement of security tech (see Security part), adaptive cruise management, LED headlights with automated excessive beams, proximity entry and push-button begin, three-zone local weather management, an eight-way energy driver seat, fabric upholstery, 5 USB ports (three entrance, two center, all Sort-C besides one Sort-A on the entrance), wi-fi Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker sound system. The LE, which serves as the bottom Hybrid trim, has a couple of key upgrades together with an influence liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel and blind-spot monitoring, however selecting it is not a should.
Apart from slathering on further gear, there are some key variations to pay attention to regarding the higher trim ranges. The XSE (pictured under) is barely accessible with the turbo engine, has sportier suspension and steering tuning, plus totally different styling and inside coloration choices. It additionally presents the extra superior torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system, which can also be non-compulsory on the Restricted and Platinum. Lastly, the Bronze Version provides a wide range of bronze-colored accents to what’s in any other case a Highlander Hybrid XLE.
You could find a full breakdown of options, specs and native pricing for the 2023 Toyota Highlander right here and for the 2023 Highlander Hybrid right here. All costs under embrace the $1,335 vacation spot cost and are for front-wheel-drive fashions. All-wheel drive is a $1,600 to $1,950 possibility primarily based on trim.
Hybrid LE: $41,555
Hybrid XLE: $44,555
Hybrid Bronze Version: $47,115
Hybrid Restricted: $48,810
Hybrid Platinum: $52,010
What are the Highlander security scores and driver help options?
Each 2023 Toyota Highlander consists of commonplace ahead collision warning with pedestrian and bike owner detection, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping help, automated excessive beams and adaptive cruise management with steering help. All however the base L trim consists of blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning. The Restricted and Platinum get reverse automated emergency braking.
The Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security named the Highlander a Prime Security Choose+ for its best-possible crash safety and crash prevention scores. Its headlight scores different relying on trim stage, and its LATCH anchors acquired a ranking of “Good” for ease of use. The Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration gave the Highlander 5 out of 5 stars for general crash safety, together with a four-star frontal ranking and five-star facet ranking.