The Japanese-based automaker Toyota has brought the all-new 2020 Highlander mid-size crossover SUV at the New York Auto Show late last month. Highlander now comes with a completely new look and gets a total redesign for both the exterior and interior. Toyota has provided significant changes on the five-door Highlander in order to maintain its reputation as a safe, tough and reliable family vehicle. Although you might be amazed by front end design of this new mid-size SUV that looks a bit like the Mazda design language.
Toyota has decided to switch to using the TNGA platform on almost all of their new cars like the Camry sedan, Avalon, Corolla, Prius, C-HR and RAV4 crossover. This unibody modular platform underpins various Toyota and Lexus vehicles, and is able to accommodate different vehicle sizes. It also supports different powertrain configurations, including all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. TNGA-K platform is far more rigid than the platform that Toyota has used before. It’s claimed to be able to help improve the maneuvering agility on the road and offers several other advantages. Well, the fourth-generation 2020 Highlander SUV is now also fully based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform.
Redesign and Changes
Speaking of its design changes, the 2020 Toyota Highlander now comes with a more muscular design line and gets a shark’s nose touch on the front end. It certainly looks very different from the current model. Several other striking changes were seen on the exterior that included slimmer LED headlights, and a new front grille design with geometric patterns. There’s no more steel material on the front grille, but it has now used lighter composite plastic material. The latest Highlander has also adopted a more pointed sleeker taillights design, taper roofline and has a stretched wheelbase. Compared to the outgoing model, the 2020 Highlander crossover is now 2.4 inches longer in terms of overall dimensions.
Toyota offers a new Highlander with a standard 3.5-liter VVT-i DOHC V6 gasoline engine capable of producing peak output of up to 295 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 263 lb-ft of torque at 4,700 rpm. The 3.6L V6 engine is available with standard 8-Speed Direct-Shift Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission featuring Intelligence (ECT-i) & Sequential Shift Mode with Dynamic Rev Management System. Front-wheel drive will be offered as a standard configuration on the 2020 Toyota Highlander with a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. As for all-wheel drive, it will be available only as an optional and offers an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined.
Tech Specs and Powertrain Choices
The current Highlander is powered by a 2.7-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine for the base model with 185 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque bursting out from under its hood. But the underpowered 2.7L engine is no longer available for the 2020 Toyota Highlander. Apart from that, the Japanese manufacturer offers a new Highlander crossover in several trim level options, including L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum. The all-new Highlander XLE is equipped with an On-Demand All-Wheel Drive System that is claimed to be capable of sending up to 50 percent of torque to the rear axle.
However, there’s a more sophisticated AWD system called “Dynamic Torque Vectoring” which is only offered for the 2020 Highlander Limited and Platinum models. Toyota has claimed that the Dynamic Torque Vectoring system can help to provide better fuel economy, thanks to Driveline Disconnect and different driving modes. In order to provide greater off-road capabilities, the 2020 Highlander SUV is also equipped with multi-terrain selections to handle various terrains like dirt, sand, rock, and mud.
Better Performance with 2020 Highlander Hybrid
If you’re looking for a hybrid powertrain-based SUV, Toyota now offers the new 2020 Highlander hybrid which is claimed to provide better performance and lower fuel economy than the current hybrid models. Under the hood, the 2020 Toyota Highlander hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter ‘Dynamic Force’ 4-cylinder engine with an Atkinson cycle and two electric motors. This hybrid system can be combined with both the front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and the new CVT gearbox, which can ultimately provide up to 240 horsepower and a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.
The EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings for the new Highlander hybrid reaches 34 mpg combined or in other words, it’s 6 mpg better than the current hybrid variant. Toyota offers three different driving modes on this mid-size crossover, including Normal, Eco, and Sport. Toyota now offers a Predictive Efficient Drive System on the new Highlander hybrid that can analyze daily driving habits and adjust battery charging or discharging.
Standard Equipment and Interior Features
The 2020 Toyota Highlander is equipped with several standard equipment, including a new MacPherson strut front suspension, trailing A-arm rear suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels (standard for L trim) and Machined-face alloy wheels (XLE trim). Meanwhile, the Limited model is available with a standard 20-inch Limited-style alloy wheels, and a 20-inch Platinum-style alloy wheels for the Highlander Platinum.
Speaking of its interior features, the new SUV is offered with an 8.0-inch infotainment screen on the base model, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, and configurable 7.0-inch screen. But customers can upgrade to the top trim level if they want a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. The upper trim level offers several standard equipment on the interior, including a heated steering wheel, heated-cooled front leather seats, and heated second-row seats.
The second-row passenger seats in the interior are equipped with climate controls, 120-volt outlets and two USB ports. While standard wireless charging, Wi-Fi connectivity, rearview-mirror and panoramic moonroof are only offered on the XLE trim to the upper trim level. The new Highlander hybrid comes in two trim choices, including LE and Platinum. Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) now comes as standard safety equipment for all Highlander variants.
Pricing and Release Date
There has been no official confirmation regarding pricing and release date, but the 2020 Toyota Highlander (gas version) will reach U.S. showrooms later this year, around December 2019. The price tag is not expected to rise much from the current Highlander which is priced starting at $31,350 for the base model and $48,830 for the highest trim level and hybrid version. Meanwhile, the 2020 Toyota Highlander hybrid will go on sale at U.S. dealerships early next year.
Image Credit: Toyota