Toyota unveiled a refreshed 2017 Highlander in advance of next week’s New York International Auto Show. The only external clues appear to be a wider, deeper grille, hiding a host of mechanical and interior upgrades. A new, direct-injected 3.5 liter V6 is paired to an equally-new eight-speed automatic.
The new V6 also features a fuel-saving start-stop system on all but the “only on the lot to advertise a low lease payment” LE model.
I was driving along the other day and I realized something: the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is currently the most popular vehicle in North America.
Okay, this might be a slight exaggeration. For instance, I am told that the bicycle is quite popular. But on a list of today’s most popular vehicles, the Highlander Hybrid is right up there with the bicycle, and the wheelchair, and that Ford pickup that sells more units in an afternoon than Ferrari sells globally in an entire calendar year.
It is very obvious to see why the Highlander Hybrid is so popular. For one thing, it’s a normal family SUV with three-row seating, which is incredibly hot right now; so hot that I am quite certain it is not actually possible to rear children in today’s society without a three-row SUV. If you showed up at a child’s birthday party in a Toyota Camry, and you had forgotten to dress your child, and you had brought the wrong child, and your child was vomiting all over everything in sight, people would not call attention to your child-related issues. They would ask: Why don’t you have a three-row SUV?
One day, about a month ago, a vehicle that I had never really given much thought to entered my consciousness quite forcefully. My phone rang, and on the other end was a family member informing me that my sister-in-law had been involved in a serious auto accident. She had been traveling through an intersection when another motorist had run the red light going the opposite direction. It was a hard hit. In fact, the impact was severe enough to flip my sister-in-law’s car was onto its roof. What’s more, her three-year-old son, my nephew, had been in the back seat. They both left the accident totally unharmed.
Her car? A 1st gen Toyota Highlander. So, at least in part, I owe the safety and security of my extended family to the car-based Toyota mid-sized CUV.
TTAC had its first bite at the 2014 Highlander recently. Be sure to bookmark TheTruthAboutCars.com for the written review in the coming days and a full-on drive review based on a week in Toyota’s new crossover in a few months.
I recently watched a rather disturbing YouTube video. In it, a Toyota Highlander is seen terrorizing a quiet suburb, not unlike a kid with a loud exhaust on his car, or worse: a neighbor who hasn’t mowed his lawn for a few weeks.
What’s happening here? Is Toyota finally getting some style all of a sudden? The 2014 Highlander, shown here in Sanjeev Brown (my new name for Brown, in honor of all the misspellings of our dear Sajeev’s name that come across TTAC’s inbox) actually looks macho and handsome. The 2.7L 4-cylinder and 3.5L V6 are standard Toyota fare, though a new 6-speed automatic is a welcome update. All the usual active safety features, from lane departure warning to cross traffic alert to a blind spot monitoring system, are standards.