New 2020 Toyota Highlander SUV
Toyota Highlander SUV
Totally revamped for 2020, the Toyota Highlander remains one of the most recommendable 3-row SUVs. A hybrid model now offers up to 36 mpg.
2020 Toyota Highlander Pricing
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2020 Toyota Highlander KBB Expert Review
The Toyota Highlander is all-new for 2020, marking the fourth generation of the brand’s 3-row midsize SUV. The 2020 Highlander is slightly larger than the outgoing model, has more interior room, improved technology, and Toyota’s latest suite of safety systems.
The Toyota Highlander has enjoyed best-seller status in its class, a competitive set that includes stalwarts like the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, plus impressive newcomers such as the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade. The revamped Highlander doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but it does come standard with a strong V6 engine, well-integrated and easy-to-use amenities, and good space for growing families and active individuals.
One key way the Highlander stands out is with its hybrid model, which now earns up to 36 mpg. For the first time, the Highlander Hybrid can be had in a less-expensive front-wheel-drive form in addition to all-wheel drive, just like the V6 model. It arrives a couple of months after the standard model. The 2020 Highlander also touts an impressive history of reliability and best-in-class predicted resale value.
You'll Like This Car If...
- Standard V6 engine
- Standard suite of active safety features
- Standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa
- Hybrid version rated at up to 36 mpg
- Sterling reliability record and resale value
You May Not Like This Car If...
- Higher starting price than rivals
- Third-row seating is tighter than some rivals
What's New for 2020
- The Toyota Highlander is all-new for 2020
- V6 engine is now standard
- Highlander Hybrid arrives slightly later, gets up to 36 mpg
- Newly available technology and safety features
The standard Toyota Highlander, with its V6 engine and 8-speed transmission, feels very similar to the outgoing Highlander. And that’s a good thing. The Highlander is impressively smooth, solid and planted. Its 295-horsepower V6 is an ample well of power. It has more verve than the V6 engines found in competitors like the Honda Pilot and Volkswagen Atlas, and it’s smoother than the turbocharged 4-cylinder in the Subaru Ascent.
Whether you’re flying along the freeway or commuting in the city, the 2020 Toyota Highlander feels unflappable. In front-wheel-drive form you’ll want to be a bit easy on the accelerator or you might squeal the tires and experience some torque steer. This isn’t as much the case with all-wheel drive (AWD) versions. Two different AWD setups are tied to the V6 engine. The L, LE and XLE trims’ AWD system can send up to 50 percent of power to the rear wheels when slip is detected. On Limited and Platinum AWD models, the system has a more sophisticated torque-vectoring system that can precisely split power between the rear wheels.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid now pairs a less-powerful 4-cylinder engine with its battery-electric powertrain, but it doesn’t feel notably down on power compared to the outgoing model. If you’re willing to trade some oomph for significantly better fuel efficiency, the Toyota Hybrid is a great way to go. In terms of compromise, it doesn’t give up much, yet returns fuel economy of up to 36 mpg. The hybrid Highlander uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) transmission that can drone under hard acceleration, but otherwise does a fine job mimicking a traditional automatic.
Perhaps more than any other automaker, Toyota knows its hybrids. The creator of the Prius was among the first to make a hybrid SUV, starting with the 2006 Highlander. The latest model builds on that legacy, enabling smooth power and great fuel economy.
With this screen — optional on Limited trims and standard on Platinum grades — Toyota can claim best-in-class status. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is bright, crisp and able to display a wealth of information like navigation and climate side by side.
As before, the new 2020 Highlander is a 3-row SUV. And as before, it can seat up to eight passengers when equipped with a 2nd-row bench, or seven when configured with a pair of captain’s chairs in the middle. Highlander L and LE trims are only available as 8-passenger models. The XLE and Limited models come with 7-passenger seating and offer the 8-passenger setup as a no-cost option. The Platinum grade is only offered in 7-passenger form.
Room in the second row is good for adults. The third row has slightly more room than the outgoing model, but still less than the Honda Pilot. It remains best for kids. The Toyota Highlander’s cargo room is impressive, with a usable 16 cubic feet behind the rear seat – enough for several bags of groceries. That swells to over 48 cubic feet with the third row folded. Fold the middle, and you open up over 84 cubic feet.
Up front, the new Highlander remains the epitome of easy operation. Whether you go with the standard 8-inch touchscreen or the new 12.3-inch display, you won’t need a degree in software engineering to use it. Controls for audio, climate and other functions are similarly easy. We found the seats – even the cloth ones in lower models – comfortable, while the stitched-leather interior of the Platinum Highlander could practically pass for a Lexus.
In true Toyota fashion, the new Highlander sports a fresher, sleeker and slightly larger shape than the model it replaces, but it’s still easily recognizable as a Highlander. The SUV has grown a couple of inches in length and wheelbase, which translates to its increased interior room.
The 2020 Highlander’s front fascia has a more pronounced design that looks as if it’s being stretched back, notably by the housings of the new LED headlights. The rear has a similarly athletic aesthetic. Viewed from the side, check out the prominent character line that begins near the middle of the front wheels and extends up through the rear door panel and flows over the rear wheel haunches.
All in all, our eyes thinks it’s a tidy shape, and is notably more angular and SUV-like than the more rounded Honda Pilot. L, LE and XLE models have 18-inch wheels, and 20-inch wheels come standard on the Highlander for the first time in Limited and Platinum grades.
Notable Standard Equipment
The new Toyota Highlander is again available in five trims, but the grade names have changed slightly. The lineup now begins with L, and from there goes LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum. The new Highlander Hybrid comes in four trims, starting at LE. Even the least-expensive Highlander L is nicely equipped, and includes 8-way power driver’s seat, tri-zone climate control, 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa, and keyless entry.
All Highlanders come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 – a suite that bundles forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and Lane Tracing Assist, which keeps the Highlander centered in lanes when adaptive cruise control is engaged. Also included is Toyota Care – 2 years/25,000 miles of complimentary maintenance.
Notable Optional Equipment
While the L will serve the needs of families on a tighter budget, we recommend spending a little more and stepping up to the 2020 Highlander LE grade. For an extra $2,200, it adds features like a power tailgate with adjustable height, blind-spot monitoring, enhanced audio with HD Radio, LED fog lights, and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.
The Highlander XLE is even better, with 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and 4-way power passenger seat, front-seat heaters, power moonroof, SofTex synthetic leather upholstery, 7-inch digital instrument cluster, and 2nd-row sunshades. Highlander Limited models have leather interiors with wood trim, navigation and premium JBL audio, 20-inch wheels, and heated/ventilated front seats.
At the top, the Highlander Platinum has a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, surround-view camera, head-up display, heated 2nd-row seats, panoramic sunroof, and a digital rearview camera that offers both a traditional mirror or digital image. All-wheel drive (AWD), is optional on all models, including the Highlander Hybrid.
Under the Hood
The all-new Toyota Highlander offers a choice of two powertrains: a standard V6 or a hybrid model that pairs a 4-cylinder engine with a battery-electric powertrain. For this new generation, Toyota has jettisoned the formerly available 4-cylinder engine in base gasoline models, which we felt was underpowered. That’s not the case with the now-standard 3.5-liter V6. Its 295 horsepower is more potent than competitors and plenty strong. It is connected to a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Highlander Hybrid, which is set to arrive in February 2020, has switched from using a V6 with its battery-electric powertrain to a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. It’s down on net power compared to the previous hybrid (243 horsepower vs. 306), but up on fuel economy, which is the point of such a hybrid. Toyota does not release information on total torque output, just the 175-lb-ft figure from its engine. This Highlander Hybrid also differs from the outgoing model in that it can be had with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive. The battery remains nickel-metal hydride. In front-drive form, the Highlander Hybrid is estimated to earn up to 36 mpg and AWD models are only one tick less at 35 mpg. As is common with hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid uses a CVT automatic transmission.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds with its standard V6, while the Highlander Hybrid is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.
295 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
263 lb-ft of torque @ 4,700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (FWD), 20/28 (AWD L, LE, XLE, Limited trims), 20/27 mpg (AWD Platinum model)
2.5-liter inline-4 + electric motor
Total horsepower 243
EPA city/highway fuel economy, estimated: 36/35 mpg (FWD), 35/35 mpg (AWD)
The new Toyota Highlander has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $34,600, plus a destination charge of $1,120. This is above last year’s price, reflecting the now-standard V6. Compared to the outgoing model with a V6, it’s similar. Stepping up to the more recommendable LE model is a good value bet at $36,800, while the Highlander XLE is $39,600. Limited models begin at $43,650, and range-topping Platinum models start at $46,850.
The Highlander Hybrid, which starts at the LE trim, begins at $38,200 and spans to $48,250 for a Platinum model. Adding all-wheel drive is $1,600 or $1,950, depending on trim.
At its base price, the 2020 Highlander is pricier than the Honda Pilot, which begins at $31,550 but has older tech in its entry model. Higher Pilot trims are more comparable in price. The Subaru Ascent, Nissan Pathfinder, Volkswagen Atlas, Chevrolet Traverse, and Mazda CX-9 are also less expensive. Even the newest arrivals to the segment, the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, cost less. The Ford Explorer, at $36,675, is pricier.
Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. While the Highlander has a higher starting price than rivals, it shines in the long-run. The Toyota Highlander routinely boasts the best resale value in its class.
Toyota Highlander Consumer Reviews
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2020 Toyota Highlander Specs
2020 Toyota Highlander Safety Ratings
How does it compare?
|#1||2020 Chevrolet Traverse||310|
|#2||2020 Ford Explorer||300|
|#3||2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee||295|
|#4||2020 Toyota Highlander||295|
|#5||2020 Dodge Durango||293|
|#1||2020 Subaru Crosstrek||90|
|#2||2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid||40|
|#3||2020 Ford Escape||40|
|#4||2020 Lexus UX||39|
|#18||2020 Toyota Highlander||24|
|#1||2020 Volvo XC40||5 / 5|
|#2||2020 Jeep Wrangler||4.9 / 5|
|#3||2020 Hyundai Santa Fe||4.9 / 5|
|#4||2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited||4.9 / 5|
|#5||2020 Cadillac XT4||4.9 / 5|
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