By on April 17, 2019

 

2020 Toyota Highlander

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.

2020 Toyota Highlander

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]

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34 Comments on “2020 Toyota Highlander Appears At New York Auto Show...”


  • avatar

    Ok but now the back looks like Olmec from The Hidden Temple.

    http://pontus.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/facebook_2.jpg

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    It looks like someone smashed into the rear quarter and gave it a huge fat lip around the wheel well. Rather odd looking from the side

  • avatar
    RSF

    I like the crisper front end of the current generation. At least they didn’t take cues from the Prius or Camry.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Looks like the roof line has been lowered in the eternal quest for another 0.1 mpg.

    Seems very close to the discontinued Venza, to my eye.

  • avatar
    make_light

    This is the first new Toyota design I’ve liked in a LONG time. It’s handsome, and not cartoonish or overdone like every other Toyota SUV in the past 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I hope you weren’t one of those complaining about the 4Runners front end as this looks exactly like that, only this has the cartoonish Camaro window treatment.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Is glass really expensive now?

    Puke.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hmmmmmmmmmm

    2020 Highlander – better looking that the current (3rd) gen but that front end is getting awfully Subaru-esque.

    Less anonymous than the 2nd gen.

    Not as iconic as the 1st gen.

    Solid base hit for Toyota.

    They will continue to sell like hot dogs on the 4th of July.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    In front, subaru and ford had a groupie. In rear some Audi-MB thing is going on. Will they complain?

  • avatar
    johnds

    Laugh all you want, I recently went into my local Toyota Dealership in Minnesota to drive off lease 2016 Highlanders. They could barely keep them on the lot and the one example I drove was priced at $31,000 XLE AWD 68,000 miles. It was filthy, like someone smeared makeup all over the interior and ceiling, the windshield was cracked. It was showing signs of the previous owner not taking care of it. It of course sold right away, and all the other ones they had available. They also had 1 2014 for $25,000 and it sold the same day they got it. Salesman who’s been there 20 + years said its tough to keep Highlanders in stock

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Which is why TBH the trade in value of my 2010 model with 130,000 miles is still pretty respectable, given it’s overall age and mileage.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I’ve got an 09 hybrid with 160k miles, and yeah, it still has value. Had it since new. Rock solid reliable. Extremely utilitarian. Totally boring. Gonna drive it until it melts back into the earth from which it arose.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @thelaine…

          I can’t do it man… I bought mine gently used when my credit was still hurting post divorce post foreclosure and then proceeded to pile on way more miles than I had anticipated.

          Come summer that sucker is out of here. Watching golf on TV is more entertaining than driving this thing.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Ain’t it the truth, PD. It was my wife’s “company car” and I bought it from them at dealer wholesale cost. It has been euthanizing me ever since, but it is too practical to let go. I hate myself.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      My son recently had a similar experience shopping for a three-year-old RAV4. Toyota dealers get top dollar for every one. Regardless they can’t keep them in stock.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Looks like you can get new one cheaper than that, these days

    • 0 avatar
      Proud2BUnion

      So true! My friends had that exact same experience here at the Bloomington Toyota dealership.Personally,I would have skipped that BS, and purchased a Explorer. We had a 3 year lease on a 2016, it was a fantastic vehicle!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      My in laws racked up 170k on their ’05 Limited first gen and loved it, got $8k on trade in(!) back in 2013 to put towards a new 2013 Rav4 Limited, which has been a total disappointment. Massively cheaper built vehicle than that old Highlander.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Yeah , I agree. We got a really high trade in on our 12 Sienna AWD this past winter. But I keep our cars mint. It was gone in 10 days .It seems that Toyotas are better bought new or demos(which is what we bought)
    If no Sienna hybrid AWD will come to fruition this could work.
    If I can get 35mpg from a family hauler , I think Hybrid Highlander awd will work for me if 0-60 is under 8 sec.My only complaint with Sienna is it’s ridiculously small gas tank.Either way , we won’t be in the market for 6 to 7 years, so it will be mid cycle refresh by then.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    If I was in the market for one, I would rush and buy the current year. Too slab sided, windows too small. I get the sitting in an “antique bathtub” feel just looking at it. The current one is no beauty but immensely better looking that this.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Not as bad as some other Toyota designs of late, but not going to sell based on its looks (which really doesn’t matter much to many Toyota buyers).

    I see the designers went w/ the narrowing greenhouse look to fool buyers into thinking this isn’t a minivan replacement.

    Right now, I’d say the Telluride is still the tops in the segment.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Y’all misspelled “Camry wagon”.

  • avatar
    The454General

    Whoa. The only thing uglier than this right now is the new Blazer. WOOF! Well, unlike the Blazer, this thing will be reliable at least.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Surprisingly handsome restraint with the exterior. The inside unfortunately looks like a prop from a 1980’s science fiction TV show. Toyota loyalists won’t care either way and will be relieved to see their favorite automaker continue being conservative by staying away from turbos or gimmicky shifters.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “Toyota loyalists won’t care either way and will be relieved to see their favorite automaker continue being conservative by staying away from Android Auto.”

    There, fixed that for you.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    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.

  • avatar
    stuki

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


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