The fourth-generation Toyota Highlander SUV has an improved look, offers space for up to eight, and has lots of advanced safety and technology features. It also rides on a new vehicle platform, and it comes with the choice of a new-generation hybrid powertrain.
The original Highlander arrived in 2001 as a two-row SUV. It was always known for being family-friendly, and especially after it grew in size and added a third row. The Highlander continues to be a solid midsize SUV option for families, and especially because all trims come equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.
There are five different trim levels to choose from: L, LE, XLE, Limited, and the top-of-line Platinum. The hybrid powertrain is offered on all but the L trim. SUVs.com had the chance to test drive a 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE with the gasoline V6.
Continue reading below to learn even more about the all-new 2020 Toyota Highlander!
The 2020 Toyota Highlander has a sculpted new shape with chiseled lines that give it a more powerful stance. The SUV’s all-new design also introduces its first-ever 20” alloy wheels as an option. The wheels are available on Limited and Platinum trims. 18” wheels come standard.
L, LE, and XLE trims feature a black front grille with silver trim, while the upper level trims are distinguished by a black grille with chrome trim and chrome-plated lower rear fascia. There’s also standard LED headlamps and taillamps.
The fourth-generation Highlander’s design offers greater aerodynamic efficiency. It’s also 2.36 inches longer than before, with that added space all going to the cargo area for improved cargo room.
The Highlander also rides on the new vehicle platform called Toyota New Global Architecture. It’s shared with Toyota’s other models and enables greater capability, comfort, and safety. It also helps provide a smoother and quieter ride.
Inside, the 2020 Toyota Highlander offers a more premium ambience than it once did. The softer padded surfaces and advanced technology integrated into the dash helps give it a more modern and tailored feel.
The all-new Highlander can be configured in a few different ways. The L and LE trims come standard with second-row bench seating for eight, while the XLE, Limited, and Platinum trims feature captain’s chairs in the middle to offer seating for seven. The XLE and Limited trims can also be configured with a bench seat, if desired. Standard three-zone climate control, meanwhile, helps keep passengers in all three rows comfortable. Plus, the vehicle is quiet thanks to optimized sound-damping and soundproofing materials!
The 2020 Highlander features advanced technology, as well. All trims come standard with an 8” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM, WiFi connectivity, and multiple USB ports. There’s also convenience built right in with cool split-level in-dash storage trays.
There’s available Dynamic Navigation, which comes standard on the range-topping Platinum trim. The Platinum trim also features an extremely impressive 12.3” touchscreen! It goes well with the JBL Premium Audio System, which is also standard on Limited and Platinum. It plays sound through 11 speakers in nine locations!
Other impressive features that come on some of the higher level trims and are optionally available include blue ambient interior lighting, a digital rearview mirror, head-up display, panoramic roof, bird’s eye camera, and heated and ventilated front seats. There’s even an optional wireless smartphone charging pad.
As for cargo space, there’s up to 73.3 cubic feet of it with both rear rows folded. There’s also an available hands-free power liftgate to help make loading cargo easier.
The 2020 Highlander offers two advanced powertrain options. There’s a powerful gasoline V6 and also a new version of the Toyota Hybrid System.
The 3.5-liter V6 engine churns out 295 horsepower and is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The standard stop/start engine system helps reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions. The engine is plenty peppy, but also offers a smooth ride. With the available towing package, V6-equipped Highlanders can tow up to 5,000 pounds!
There are two different all-wheel drive systems available with the gasoline V6 for added control on the road. And for even greater agility and capability on Limited and Platinum trims, there’s Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Drive Mode Select and Driveline Disconnect.
As for the hybrid, the new-generation Toyota Hybrid System combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. The system is more compact and efficient than before. It gets 240 total system horsepower and an EPA-estimated 34 miles per gallon combined. That’s a 17-percent improvement over the previous-generation hybrid’s 28 mpg combined. The hybrid powertrain is also available with a unique all-wheel drive system.
What’s nice is that the hybrid’s battery pack is small enough to be installed under the rear seats, so it does not take away from the Highlander’s cargo or passenger space.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a powerful, but also highly safe vehicle with eight airbags and a standard backup camera with projected path. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 also comes standard on all Highlander models. The second generation of Toyota’s comprehensive active safety system includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, and road sign assist. All Highlander models also come equipped with Toyota Safety Connect with a one-year trial subscription.
Blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert is additionally standard on the LE trim and above. Rear cross traffic braking, meanwhile, is available with clearance sonar on Limited and Platinum trims. There’s also an improved bird’s eye view camera system with perimeter scan that comes standard on the range-topping Platinum.
The all-new 2020 Toyota Highlander is priced from $34,600. But, the price can significantly go up from there. The range-topping Platinum trim, for example, has a starting price of $46,850.
The three-row midsize Highlander has been around for a while now, but it’s competing in an ever more crowded segment. There’s plenty of stiff competition, including from the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Volkswagen Atlas, Ford Explorer, and also the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade.
While the Highlander does offer a good value, especially considering Toyota’s reliability factor and all the safety features you get, critics are quick to point out that you don’t get quite as much with the Highlander as you do for the price of the Telluride or Palisade.
SUVs.com is a fan of the improvements made to the Toyota Highlander! The updated exterior styling is pleasant and it’s nice to see all the advanced technology and safety features inside. The new hybrid system is more fuel-efficient, which is beneficial. The standard V6 is also plenty powerful and more than fit for daily driving.
SUVs.com gave the 2020 Toyota Highlander an SUVs.com deal score of 79/100. Be sure to comment on the YouTube video review!