One of the original and popular three-row family crossovers has been completely redesigned. If you liked the previous version, you will probably like the incrementally enhanced Toyota Highlander from the year 2020. It is equipped with generous safety and entertainment features, and by far the best fuel economy thanks to its unique hybrid offering.
What’s recent for 2020?
The Toyota Highlander is all new for 2020 and rides on the same new platform that also features other recently redesigned Toyota cars. It’s just a little bit bigger than before and mostly represents evolutionary changes that are supposed to enhance its refinement and sharpen its driving experience. The former Highlander V6 engine is now standard (the flagging four-cylinder has been dropped), while the Highlander hybrid model is more powerful, efficient and now available with front-wheel drive. The advanced torque vectoring four-wheel drive system from the RAV4 Adventure is now available as an option in some V6 trim levels. The interior and exterior design is significantly different and the infotainment features have been enhanced with standard Apple Car-play and Android Auto features. A huge 12.3-inch touchscreen is also available now.
What is the interior and vehicle technology of the Highlander?
The interior of the 2020 Highlander largely retains the functionality of its predecessor, but makes it visually striking. The material quality has also been improved, with more sewn, simulated leather surfaces. To be fair, we have only seen the platinum top equipment at this point.
Indoor storage remains a priority for Highlander. It retains the Mid-Dash shelf of its predecessor, but is now split into two (one under the center stacker controls, the other in front of the front passenger) and has a more soggy, grippy surface to keep items secure. Below is a larger area dedicated to the biggest smartphones. There are all three front USB ports, while the rear are located on the back of the center console (in the third row are none). The center console’s container is again very deep and covered by a sliding lid – but there is only one lid instead of the old model’s strange clamshell design, and it is more densely padded to better serve as an armrest.
In terms of technology, each 2020 Highlander comes standard with Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa integration, Waze app control, satellite radio, and WiFi in the car. All trim levels except the Top Platinum come standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, which is currently the optional screen size on most Toyota. It’s also fairly high on the dashboard, making it easy to see (and effectively bigger than sitting closer to your TV). The Platinum has a 12.3-inch screen, which is first a Toyota. Like other extra-wide screens, such as the Kia Telluride, it allows 60/40 information distribution. For example, you can view hybrid information and the Apple CarPlay interface at the same time so you no longer have to constantly switch between screens.
How tall is Highlander?
If you shop within the Toyota family, the Highlander offers significantly more space than the RAV4, both in terms of load capacity and the additional row of seats. It also has a lower, more accessible space than the 4Runner.
However, the Highlander is one of the smallest three-row crossovers on the market. Apart from the Kia Sorento and perhaps the Mazda CX-9, you’ll find more load capacity and passenger space in the competitors of the Highlander. This is especially true for the third row. The second row slides a little further to give you more legroom, but the third row stays awfully close to the ground, and it will not be long before your adolescent children cramp on the way back and feel claustrophobic. Teenagers and adults full size will be grumpy.
The smaller size of the Highlander may be just the thing for many buyers who appreciate the more manageable dimensions of parking or maneuvering in confined spaces. If you only need this third row for
occasional use and only a little more space than a RAV4 provides, it does not matter that the Highlander can not keep up with the jumbo size of the competition.
What is Highlander performance and fuel consumption?
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2020 has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which generates electricity with two electric motors and drives the front wheels. Highlander four-wheel drive hybrids get a third engine on the rear axle. Overall system performance is 240 horsepower (like the Avalon and more than the RAV4), while Toyota expects to reach 33-34 MPG altogether. That’s more than 28 mpg and by far the best fuel economy in this segment. You could save a lot of money in gasoline every year if you drive the hybrid.