2020 Toyota Highlander review: Practical but posh

The Highlander somehow escaped Toyota’s at any time-developing motivation to make its grilles as massive as probable. Andrew Krok/Roadshow It can be tricky to get excited about a midsize, a few-row SUV, until you have a bunch of young children and even far more cargo, at which position this segment […]

The Highlander somehow escaped Toyota’s at any time-developing motivation to make its grilles as massive as probable.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

It can be tricky to get excited about a midsize, a few-row SUV, until you have a bunch of young children and even far more cargo, at which position this segment will sense like a saving grace. Practicality in this arena long intended foregoing some of the industry’s niceties, but the hottest crop of crossovers has eschewed that idea. The new-for-2020 Toyota Highlander embodies that concept, tacking some posh silver linings on to an if not clear-cut spouse and children equipment to fantastic outcome.


  • Less complicated on the eyes
  • Composed and comfortable
  • Excellent conventional tech

Don’t Like

  • Weird middle armrest storage
  • Tokyo-subway 3rd row room

The 2020 Toyota Highlander’s updates cover just about each individual corner of the auto, from aesthetics to perform. No person always puts fantastic looks on the entrance burner in this segment, but the Joneses will have to be kept up with, and the Highlander adopts a fresh new seem that truly impresses. It looks… great, essentially, with surprisingly powerful fenders, en-vogue slender lights and a grille that bucks Toyota’s pattern of at any time-developing maws.

Getting taken a couple extended road visits in prior-technology Highlanders, I’d have to say that my absolute most loved aspect of the 2020 model’s update is its new interior. It can be impressively trendy, specifically on my tester’s $fifty one,000 Platinum trim (far more on that eye-watering sticker later on). The dashboard’s layering usually takes on a lifetime of its personal, with a powerful aluminum-seem trim piece transferring from the infotainment display to the passenger-facet door body. Due to the fact this is the Highlander’s greatest trim, there is a lot of stitched leather-based, leaving only a couple tricky plastics for regions that are mainly out of sight or require some extra longevity, like close to the carpet.

The Highlander’s new sprint layout also brings something that each individual spouse and children crossover sorely demands: storage. You can find a passenger cubby above the glove box, a further a person beneath the infotainment display (with a 2nd hidey-hole beneath that a person), in addition to your conventional door pockets and middle console armrest. That latter a person is a sticking position for me: The rolling-design and style opener is surprisingly smaller, and there is a enormous wi-fi charger you want to rotate upward (?) to entry the purse-ish-sized cave within. Other questionable frippery involves the cord opening among the two centrally mounted cubbies, which is completely unneeded given that I can just leave my cellphone in the lessen a person.

Head a minimal further again in the ‘Yota and you you should not eliminate any inch of close to-luxe appointment. The 2nd- and 3rd-row seats are wrapped in the exact plush leather-based as the fronts, and they present the ideal blend of consolation and support. It can be value noting, even though, that the 3rd row ought to only be made use of for toddlers and emergencies with scarcely any height delta among the floor and the seat cushion, grown ups will generally sit in the fetal position for the size of the journey, specifically if the 2nd-row occupants you should not scooch up. At six-ft tall, I’d be comfortable again there for five minutes, tops. The 3rd row’s finest use is in its flattened type, which expands cargo room in a huge way.

Just as the interior is a beautiful issue with a couple scarcely-there missteps thrown in, the exact can be reported for the way the 2020 Highlander drives. Even though prior Highlanders have felt a minimal flimsy to me, the 2020 design feels strong as a rock. It can be approximately Lexus degrees of silent within, hushing the din of the ever more messed-up entire world all-around us and offering households a minimal separation time. That isolation is further strengthened by ample suspension journey and, on my Platinum trim, suitably thick Goodyear Eagle Touring all-period tires.

Propulsion for all non-hybrid Highlanders arrives from the exact motor: a three.five-liter V6 generating 295 horsepower and 263 pound-ft of torque. I would not contact its output sprightly, but it really is far more than plenty of to get the full shebang up to velocity on the highway or in website traffic, inspite of the actuality that the auto has developed among generations while output has not. Toyota blissfully skipped more than its common continually variable transmission in favor of an 8-velocity automatic, which is information to knock off shifts in the track record with minimal drama.

The steering is as numb as any other modern day Toyota, but it turns the wheels, so I am not complaining. The brakes and throttle are both of those lifeless easy to modulate with smoothness, maintaining kids’ heads from unnecessarily bobbing about (far more than common, at minimum, if you allow ’em have a soda or two).

Even though the EPA estimates the all-wheel-push Highlander Platinum will obtain 20 miles for every gallon city and 27 mpg highway, my ideal foot are not able to match those figures, slipping closer to 22 or 23 mpg on the highway and mid-to-late teenagers in urban driving. I am really making an attempt, far too, I assure. If gasoline thrift is significant on your will have to-have record, I would likely position you in the way of the electrified Highlander Hybrid.

The Highlander’s residence display can get a minimal active if you you should not know the place to seem — or how to set up the tiles for maximum distraction mitigation.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Even though even some new Toyotas have not been the most technologically advanced automobiles on the block, there is no denying the at any time-rising concentrate on in-auto tech, and the 2020 Highlander is poised to supply. It all begins with the common way of interfacing with the telematics: the infotainment display. An 8-inch display is conventional on lessen trims, but my Platinum design arrives toting a twelve-incher that fills the dashboard properly. Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are both of those conventional throughout the board, which is excellent, simply because they continue being my most loved approaches to use Toyota’s Entune method (read through: disregarding it).

Now, there is not anything completely wrong with the method. In this iteration, it really is responsive plenty of and its size usually means it really is able of exhibiting a full great deal of facts at the moment. Nevertheless, the light colorway and slightly uncomfortable jumble of tiles could present a busier appearance than distraction-mitigation endeavours would respect. It doesn’t consider long to get made use of to, even though, and I respect that the greater display has a particular space focused to providing extra facts about the weather handle, music or gasoline economic climate. Alexa integration is a great touch for related households, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Fans of conventional buttons will breathe a sigh of aid at the four (admittedly smaller) switches beneath the display that present rapid hops to certain areas, whether or not it really is the map or music.

It can be a Toyota, so it really is practically a supplied that the 2020 Highlander would pack security units out the wazoo. Toyota Protection Sense 2., the automaker’s suite of active and passive protection tech, is conventional on each individual Highlander. It involves stuff you hope you in no way want, like lane-departure mitigation and automatic crisis braking with pedestrian detection, in addition to effort-savers like comprehensive-velocity adaptive cruise handle and automatic significant beams. Blind-location monitoring and a surround-view digicam are also conventional on better trims, the latter of which is supplied in a suitably significant resolution for straightforward control-rash avoidance.

The 3rd row is finest remaining as an extension of the cargo space, until you are in a pinch.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The 2020 Highlander may possibly start out a shade less than $35,000, but my leading-tier Restricted AWD tester rings in at a approximately uncomfortable $fifty one,000 and modify. Sticking with gasoline designs for far better points of comparison, I’d decide for the $40,000-ish XLE FWD trim, which nevertheless has hundreds of security units, heated seats and wi-fi system charging. If you you should not brain a lesser display, leatherette and a non-panoramic moonroof, there is a great deal of revenue to be saved.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is in the middle of the goddamn Thunderdome. The 2020 Honda Pilot is getting a minimal aged, specifically in the infotainment department, but its starting rate is lessen and it really is fantastic to push. The 2021 VW Atlas was just supplied a strong visible refresh, and I want its interior layout to Toyota’s. The most important threats to the Highlander, even though, are the 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Frankly speaking, these Korean fraternal twins rock, lifting mass-current market transportation practically to the level of artwork.

But sometimes you just want something that’s familiar, and inspite of staying fully redesigned for the 2020 design year, the Highlander is specifically that. Its on-road demeanor is as predictable as the sunset, the accurate trims can switch it into 90% of a Lexus and it really is loaded with the technological doodads everybody’s following in 2020. I’d be executing you beautiful readers a disservice by not recommending this get set at or close to the leading of your a few-row-SUV purchasing record.

Rosa G. Rose

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