2020 Toyota Highlander Appears Ahead of New York Debut

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2020 toyota highlander appears ahead of new york debut

Not content with releasing a high contrast, nearly blacked-out photo or rendering of its upcoming fourth-generation Highlander, Toyota decided to go all artsy-fartsy. In place of a single image, Toyota commissioned an artist to create a 3D art installation made up of 200 individual panels.

Buyers, however, will be more interested in the actual, physical vehicle, which makes its debut on April 17th at the New York Auto Show. A sales stud, Toyota’s three-row midsizer promises a new platform and slightly sexier flanks.

It’s certainly not hard to make the Highlander sexier. Toyota’s boring-but-safe styling kept buyers in an emotional Goldilocks Zone for years — just what the automaker needed to reap major sales.

Last revamped for the 2014 model year, the Highlander is the midsizer to beat in a market consumed with lust for the bodystyle. U.S. sales rose from a recession-era low of 83,118 vehicles in 2009 to 244,511 in 2018. Despite its advancing age, the Highlander continues to sell in great numbers, even in a first quarter that saw overall Toyota sales drop 5 percent and the industry as a whole cool off significantly. Highlander volume fell just 0.5 percent over the first three months of 2019.

For 2020, the Highlander smoothes out the creases, adding some muscularity via fender bulges. Added style comes from a beltline that swings upward to meet the D-pillar. Beneath the crossover, Toyota’s K platform disappears, replaced by the stiffer TNGA architecture popping up throughout the brand’s unibody stable.

As Toyota didn’t have additional details to share of its midsize moneymaker, we’ll have to wait until the New York show to find out more.

[Images: Toyota]

Join the conversation
6 of 16 comments
  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Apr 09, 2019

    The original might be the single most boring thing on the planet, never mind most boring car. The current one, actually looks pretty good.

  • Jimmyy Jimmyy on Apr 09, 2019

    Before 2015, the Highlander was a looker. The 2015 to 2019 is a styling disaster. I am surprised it sells as well as it does. This 2020 model seems to be a huge improvement. Rumor is it looks like the Rav4, which is a great looking vehicle. If that is true, Toyota has a winner. The 2020 Explorer pictures also look good. 2020 will be interesting.

    • See 3 previous
    • Slavuta Slavuta on Apr 10, 2019

      @Dave M. I think, gen2.1 was very cohesive design, and I have pictures to prove it

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?