For more on the 2020 Toyota Highlander, see how it stacks up against the competition.
After teasing the upcoming 2020 Highlander earlier this month with a brief video clip of the model presented as an art piece, Toyota has now debuted the real deal at the New York International Auto Show. Highlander will be the first model to offer both from the get-go.
Inside, the second-row bench can be exchanged for two individual seats, so the Highlander can carry either seven or eight people. The gas-only model will be available initially with the Highlander Hybrid to arrive next February. That's down 75 horses compared to the 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid, but Ford estimates just 24 mpg combined versus 34 for the Toyota. There's softer padding and more stitching across all trim levels to increase the sense of hand-crafted quality, and Toyota's most anal of sound technicians have specially tuned the Highlander's sound deadening to filter out frequencies of sound that drown out the human voice. The hybrid Highlander, meanwhile, gets a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder that produces 240 hp (178 kW). Additionally, owners can select from five different trims that will add different types of wheels, drive systems, multimedia technologies, and interior finishes among other features. Limited and Platinum trim levels can split torque front to back and side to side for better grip or fuel economy. With the V-6, the all-wheel-drive system can shuttle up to 50 percent of power rearward as needed. The hybrid's system has no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles.
The Toyota Highlander has been around for a minute - 18 years, in fact. The crossover SUV's profile is blockier and edgier like the RAV4 but with rounded design cues pulled from the Camry. All Highlanders come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, as well as Alexa In-Car and WiFi hot-spot capability. Highlander Platinums swap in a flashier 12.3-inch touchscreen. The new Highlander stretches about 2 inches longer overall, and cargo volume rises to 16.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 40.6 cubes with row three folded, and 73.3 cubic feet with the second and third rows stowed.
Cloth seats come standard on the LE trim, while synthetic leather is fitted to the Highlander Hybrid XLE.