The Highlander one way or the other escaped Toyota’s ever-growing want to make its grilles as giant as attainable.
It’s exhausting to get excited a few midsize, three-row SUV, until you may have a bunch of youngsters and much more cargo, at which level this phase will really feel like a saving grace. Practicality on this enviornment lengthy meant foregoing among the trade’s niceties, however the newest crop of crossovers has eschewed that notion. The new-for-2020 Toyota Highlander embodies that concept, tacking some posh silver linings onto an in any other case easy household machine to nice impact.
LikeEasier on the eyesComposed and comfortableGood customary tech
Don’t LikeWeird heart armrest storageTokyo-subway third row area
The 2020 Toyota Highlander’s updates cowl nearly each nook of the automotive, from aesthetics to operate. Nobody essentially places attractiveness on the entrance burner on this phase, however the Joneses should be saved up with, and the Highlander adopts a contemporary look that genuinely impresses. It seems to be… cool, truly, with surprisingly robust fenders, en-vogue slim lights and a grille that bucks Toyota’s development of ever-growing maws.Having taken just a few prolonged highway journeys in previous-generation Highlanders, I’d need to say that my absolute favourite a part of the 2020 mannequin’s replace is its new inside. It’s impressively trendy, particularly on my tester’s $51,000 Platinum trim (extra on that eye-watering sticker later). The dashboard’s layering takes on a lifetime of its personal, with a robust aluminum-look trim piece shifting from the infotainment display to the passenger-side door body. Since that is the Highlander’s highest trim, there’s loads of stitched leather-based, leaving only some exhausting plastics for areas which might be largely out of sight or require some extra sturdiness, like close to the carpet.
The Highlander’s new sprint design additionally brings one thing that each household crossover sorely wants: storage. There’s a passenger cubby above the glove field, one other one under the infotainment display (with a second hidey-hole under that one), along with your customary door pockets and heart console armrest. That latter one is a sticking level for me: The rolling-style opener is surprisingly small, and there is a huge wi-fi charger it’s good to rotate upward (?) to entry the purse-ish-sized cave inside. Other questionable frippery consists of the wire opening between the 2 centrally mounted cubbies, which is completely pointless since I can simply depart my cellphone within the decrease one.Head a bit of additional again within the ‘Yota and you do not lose any inch of near-luxe appointment. The second- and third-row seats are wrapped in the identical plush leather-based because the fronts, and so they supply the right combination of consolation and help. It’s price noting, although, that the third row ought to solely be used for toddlers and emergencies; with barely any peak delta between the ground and the seat cushion, adults will principally sit within the fetal place for the size of the experience, particularly if the second-row occupants do not scooch up. At 6-feet tall, I’d be comfy again there for 5 minutes, tops. The third row’s greatest use is in its flattened kind, which expands cargo area in a giant approach.
Just as the inside is a beautiful factor with just a few barely-there missteps thrown in, the identical might be mentioned for the best way the 2020 Highlander drives. While earlier Highlanders have felt a bit of flimsy to me, the 2020 mannequin feels strong as a rock. It’s almost Lexus ranges of quiet inside, hushing the din of the more and more messed-up world round us and giving households a bit of separation time. That isolation is additional bolstered via ample suspension journey and, on my Platinum trim, suitably thick Goodyear Eagle Touring all-season tires.
Propulsion for all non-hybrid Highlanders comes from the identical engine: a 3.5-liter V6 producing 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. I would not name its output sprightly, however it’s greater than sufficient to get the entire shebang on top of things on the freeway or in visitors, even if the automotive has grown between generations whereas output has not. Toyota blissfully passed over its regular constantly variable transmission in favor of an eight-speed computerized, which is content material to knock off shifts within the background with little drama.The steering is as numb as another fashionable Toyota, however it turns the wheels, so I’m not complaining. The brakes and throttle are each lifeless easy to modulate with smoothness, conserving children’ heads from unnecessarily bobbing about (greater than regular, no less than, in case you let ’em have a soda or two).While the EPA estimates the all-wheel-drive Highlander Platinum will obtain 20 miles per gallon metropolis and 27 mpg freeway, my proper foot can’t match these numbers, falling nearer to 22 or 23 mpg on the freeway and mid-to-late teenagers in city driving. I’m actually making an attempt, too, I promise. If gasoline thrift is excessive in your must-have record, I might possible level you within the course of the electrified Highlander Hybrid.The Highlander’s house display can get a bit of busy if you do not know the place to look — or how one can arrange the tiles for optimum distraction mitigation.
While even some current Toyotas have not been probably the most technologically superior automobiles on the block, there is no denying the ever-increasing concentrate on in-car tech, and the 2020 Highlander is poised to ship. It all begins with the standard approach of interfacing with the telematics: the infotainment display. An 8-inch show is customary on decrease trims, however my Platinum mannequin comes toting a 12-incher that fills the dashboard properly. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are each customary throughout the board, which is improbable, as a result of they continue to be my favourite methods to make use of Toyota’s Entune system (learn: ignoring it).Now, there’s not something mistaken with the system. In this iteration, it is responsive sufficient and its dimension means it is able to displaying an entire lot of data directly. Yet, the sunshine colorway and barely awkward jumble of tiles may current a busier look than distraction-mitigation efforts would recognize. It does not take lengthy to get used to, although, and I recognize that the bigger display has a particular space devoted to providing extra details about the local weather management, music or gasoline economic system. Alexa integration is a pleasant contact for linked households, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Fans of conventional buttons will breathe a sigh of aid on the 4 (admittedly small) switches beneath the display that provide fast hops to particular elements, whether or not it is the map or music.It’s a Toyota, so it is virtually a on condition that the 2020 Highlander would pack security techniques out the wazoo. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, the automaker’s suite of lively and passive safety tech, is customary on each Highlander. It consists of stuff you hope you by no means want, like lane-departure mitigation and computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection, along with effort-savers like full-speed adaptive cruise management and computerized excessive beams. Blind-spot monitoring and a surround-view digicam are additionally customary on larger trims, the latter of which is obtainable in a suitably excessive decision for simple curb-rash avoidance.The third row is greatest left as an extension of the cargo space, until you are in a pinch.
The 2020 Highlander could begin out a shade underneath $35,000, however my top-tier Limited AWD tester rings in at an almost uncomfortable $51,000 and alter. Sticking with gasoline fashions for higher factors of comparability, I’d go for the $40,000-ish XLE FWD trim, which nonetheless has a great deal of security techniques, heated seats and wi-fi gadget charging. If you do not thoughts a smaller display, leatherette and a non-panoramic moonroof, there’s some huge cash to be saved.The 2020 Toyota Highlander is in the midst of the goddamn Thunderdome. The 2020 Honda Pilot is getting a bit of previous, particularly within the infotainment division, however its beginning value is decrease and it is nice to drive. The 2021 VW Atlas was simply given a strong visible refresh, and I favor its inside design to Toyota’s. The largest threats to the Highlander, although, are the 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Frankly talking, these Korean fraternal twins rock, lifting mass-market transportation virtually to the extent of artwork.But typically you simply need one thing that is acquainted, and regardless of being utterly redesigned for the 2020 mannequin yr, the Highlander is exactly that. Its on-road demeanor is as predictable because the sundown, the right trims can flip it into 90% of a Lexus and it is loaded with the technological doodads all people’s after in 2020. I’d be doing you beautiful readers a disservice by not recommending this get put at or close to the highest of your three-row-SUV procuring record.