2020 Toyota Highlander Appears At New York Auto Show

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
2020 toyota highlander appears at new york auto show

While you were sleeping, Toyota rolled out the fourth generation of its three-row Highlander crossover. It is an all-wheel drive box powered by a V6 engine, packed with gadgets, and offering an optional hybrid powertrain. Given the tastes of car buyers in this segment, none of these things are surprising.

What is surprising is that this nameplate has been around for 20 model years. Perhaps it’s because your author has never been in the market for a rig like the Highlander, or that the model’s ubiquity has caused the thing to fade into the background like proverbial wallflowers. Whatever the case, Highlander is nearly old enough to order its own drinks, and it’s put on a new set of clothes for the occasion.

Applying the new corporate face to the rig provides better results than when the company placed a Gillette razor on its nose. The trapezoid shaped grille and downward-turned foglamp housings create a frowny face not unlike that of a child who has been denied ice cream.

Along the flanks, an expressive bodyline swoops down from taillight level to the rocker panels, breaking up the monotony of what would otherwise be a very tall and very plain set of doors.

The 2020 Highlander rides on a version of the Toyota New Global Architecture vehicle platform, dubbed TNGA-K in this example. Measuring 193.5 inches in length, it is 2.36 inches longer than the old model, all of which was added to the cargo area. Making the most of this newfound length, the second-row seats can slide an extra 1.2 inches forward to increase distance between it and the third row.

Its interior will look familiar to anyone who has recently spent time in a newer Toyota. This is not a bad thing, with most controls logically placed in the centre stack and a high-riding infotainment system that should be within easy view of the driver’s field of vision (we’ll leave the distracting properties of most modern touchscreens as a conversation for another day). The company made a point to show the device equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also note that the company has included knobs for both radio volume and tuning. Thank you, Toyota.

They’ve also not latched on to the current trend of replacing the traditional gear selector with an electronic joystick or push buttons. This does consume extra console space, but will certainly be a more familiar device to many buyers. There also seems to be a couple of neatly sized cubbies just south of the HVAC vents, which will be super handy if sloped and shaped properly. It’ll seat eight with a middle bench, seven with optional captain’s chairs.

Powering the new Highlander is a 295 horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine lashed to an eight-speed automatic transmission. So configured, it can haul 5,000 pounds. There will also be a hybrid version that deploys a 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, for a system total of 240 horses (Toyota claims an EPA-estimated combined rating of 34 mpg). Both methods of propulsion will be available in front- or all-wheel drive. Trims are familiar: L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum As expected from Toyota, suites of driver aids and safety equipment will keep drivers coloring inside the lines and all hands safe in a wreck if they don’t.

Highlander will arrive on dealer lots this December, with the Hybrid showing up in February 2020.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC, Toyota]

Join the conversation
2 of 34 comments
  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Apr 18, 2019

    I guess boring, if a bit on the ugly, is better than the eye-searingly ugly crap they've been releasing. Either the angle of those photos is bad or the car itself is just terrible because it looks like a blob fish.

  • Stuki Stuki on Apr 18, 2019

    Tow 5000 lbs. Not Haul. At least I think that is what you meant....

  • MaintenanceCosts Washington Highway 410 over Cayuse and Chinook Passes, in the shadow of Mount Rainier.Grand St. Bernard Pass between Switzerland and Italy, close to the Mont Blanc massif.Colorado 82 over Independence Pass. Highest I've ever been in a car.Skyline Drive in Virginia.California Highway 1 from Monterey to Santa Barbara.A million little unnumbered roads in the German Black Forest, more satisfying at 100 km/h than the Autobahn is at 250.
  • Kendahl US 60 between Show Low and Globe, Arizona. It's especially fun in the switchbacks on both sides of the Salt River canyon.
  • Arthur Dailey What give with this site? I know that I posted a comment. The site says that there are 12 comments. But when I click on the 'see more' button it resets to say that there are 11 comments and I can't see mine. I am not that egotistical as to believe that my comments are important. But that makes me wonder if others are also having their comments 'erased'.
  • Arthur Dailey Think of how much fun you can have turning corners making u-turns and taking evasive maneuvers with that extra ride height.
  • MaintenanceCosts Amazing that it has managed to stay upright for nearly 40 years!