By on September 25, 2020

2020 Toyota Highlander AWD Premium

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum V6 AWD Fast Facts

3.5-liter V6 (295 hp @ 6,600 rpm, 263 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined (EPA Estimated Rating, MPG)

11.7 city, 8.6 highway, 10.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $48,800 (U.S) / $54,150(Canada)

As Tested: $51,112 (U.S.) / $56,905 (Canada)

Prices include $1,120 destination charge in the United States and $1,940 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared. The V6 must be special ordered in Canada, so consumer pricing is not readily available.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a pretty good improvement over the previous generation, building off an already strong foundation, but unfortunately for Toyota, it comes along just as Kia’s Telluride and Hyundai’s Palisade soar towards class dominance.

Ask anyone who made big plans for after March 1, 2020, and they’ll tell you – timing is everything.

In Toyota’s case, a very, very good three-row family hauler is getting lost in all the hype about the two outstanding Korean entries.

Somewhere, a Toyota sales manager sobs in his coffee in between Zooms.

Understandably so, because the Highlander is dang good at achieving its mission – hauling your minions/stuff/pets/whatever across town in relative comfort, without being a chore to drive.

The Highlander is not a joy to drive – it can feel heavy, ponderous, and slow at times, despite 295 and 263 lb-ft of torque being on tap from the 3.5-liter V6. Handling is deliberate. The ride, however, is nice and comfortable. An eight-speed automatic transmission gets the power down to the all-wheel-drive system.

Still, the driving dynamics aren’t so far off what the Kia/Hyundai twins offer that it’s completely out of range. And most buyers in this class don’t care all that much about on-road dynamics, anyway. Competence is often good enough.

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum

And the Highlander is more than competent in the areas that matter. The interior looked and felt fairly upscale, and creature comforts weren’t lacking. The cabin design isn’t as handsome as that of the Hyundai and Kia, and it’s a bit of a mish-mash of shapes, but as noted before, the materials look and feel nice enough to make up for any stylistic weirdness. And there’s enough utility in terms of cupholders and cubby holes and storage areas to help out any harried parent.

Even the infotainment screen is better integrated than on many Toyota products, though the brand’s graphics still rival Honda for being the most far behind the times.

Shortly after I drove the gasser Highlander, I marched west an hour to drive the hybrid version of the Highlander on the suburban streets around Toyota’s Chicago-area regional offices. I guess when it comes to this Highlander, there can be more than one.

Not shockingly, the Hybrid is slightly less engaging on-road, in service of fuel economy, but the overall package doesn’t feel too different. You do give up power – the 2.5-liter four-cylinder has 186 system horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. You also trade an eight-speed automatic transmission for a CVT.

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum

The exterior design combines slab siding with curved fenders and a sloping roofline with a front face that is more than a tad angry-looking. Thank the slanted headlamps, along with a chrome strip that includes the Toyota badge, for that. The fog-lamp openings also contribute to the Highlander’s perpetually pissed-off face.

It’s an aggressive look that belies the crossover’s mission as a comfortable family hauler. It’s not a bad look, but it feels unnecessary, as well as incongruent with the softer styling from the A-pillar rearward. Who asked for this – dads who want to show that they can still be hardcore with a baby seat in the back?

The features list, especially on the Platinum trim I drove, was class-competitive. There wasn’t much in the way of options – just the paint color ($425), carpeted floor mats and cargo mat ($318), a tablet holder ($99), and crossbars for the cargo area ($350).

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum

Standard features included Toyota’s SafetySense suite of driver’s-aid tech: Pre-collision system w/pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist, lane-tracing assist, automatic high beams, and road-sign assist. Other standard features included blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, 360-degree camera, 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, adaptive front lighting, LED fog lights, hands-free power liftgate, panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, heated and cooled front seats, leather seats, heated second-row seats, 60/40 spilt-fold/fold-flat third-row seats, 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment, navigation, satellite radio, premium audio with subwoofer, USB media port, four USB charge ports, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless smart-phone charger, and a rearview mirror that includes HomeLink.

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum

That all added up to $48,800. With the options and the $1,120 destination fee, the sticker was $51,112. That $48,800 base price is a few grand more than a Telluride SX bases for, but clicking lots of options boxes on the Kia puts it on par with the as-tested price.

However, a Telluride spec’d close to this Highlander undercut it by several thousand dollars.

The Highlander is a pretty damn good three-row crossover, with nice interior materials. It’s not as strong all-around as the Palisade or Telluride, mainly because it’s not quite as attractive, inside or out, and it’s not quite as engaging on-road. But it’s nicer than Ford’s Explorer, which can get costly, and feels a bit upmarket compared to Volkswagen’s Atlas (which scores well on utility, if not aesthetics).

There’s a reason the Telluride and Palisade are kicking butt, but if they don’t ring your bell, the Highlander works well.

Maybe that will make our hypothetical sobbing Toyota exec feel better.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

78 Comments on “2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum V6 AWD Review – Victim of Timing...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Next up: Karen, who drives a Highlander, and Becky, who drives a Pilot, almost come to blows at Starbucks over whose mommy-mobile is better.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I doubt Toyota is too concerned about the Korean rivals. Toyota buyers tend to be extremely loyal. The Koreans have to contend with a persistent stigma of poor quality.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      My theory is that ones perception of car brands is pretty much fixed when you’re in your late teens and early twenties. Someone who came of age in the 90s thinks Toyota/Honda are amazing Hyundai/Kia are crap. A 30 year old couple, who came of age in the early 2010s, that is out buying a Telluride because a second kid is on the way, don’t have that negative impression.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        When I talk to people I know who own a Hyundai/Kia, it seems like quite a few have had the engine fail and have had to get an engine replacement (Free). I am also concerned of the recent recall on many models for the ABS module leaking brake fluid, and the request of the company to keep it parked outside. I find it odd they have these issues of recent when Korea seems to build other great devices and appliances.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          If you look at Consumer Reports and JD Power, all the manufacturers are really within striking distance of each other in terms of problems per hundred or thousand vehicles, however they measure it. It is always tempting to use anecdotal evidence, so in the same spirit as all those people you know with blown up Hyundai/Kia engines, I know a bunch of people whose GMs have caught fire and whose Toyotas have driven off a cliff due to unintended acceleration. Well….I used to know them.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          It’s not like the Highlander hasn’t had its share of recalls (particularly for the 1st model year) or Toyota in general (a good # of class action lawsuits against Toyota as well).

          The now venerable Toyota V6 wasn’t recommended by Consumer Reports when it was new due to various issues, including engine sludge.

          The Odyssey is considered the top minivan by many and for the past several generations, each has had a long list of recalls.

          Every automaker has its issues.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @johnds – my son works at the local Kia dealership. They had an entire shop bay full of dead engines. The two mechanics are sick and tired of replacing them.
          @thegamper – I don’t know a single person who had the “UA” problem with Toyota’s. The Sienna I had was from that era but wasn’t under recall. It did have the carpet “hooks” to keep the mat from jamming the pedals. Incidentally, my F150 has the same style carpet hooks.

          • 0 avatar
            monkeydelmagico

            One of those might be the engine in my sisters Kia Sedona minivan. Started having serious oil consumption issues at around 60k mark. The service bay hid the problem by topping off her oil and then claiming there was not a problem. By 75k miles they got caught on their shenanigans and had to go ahead and swap the motor.

            Kia/Hyundai have come a long way. They still have a ways to go to reach Toyota levels of reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            ABC-2000

            NormSV650,
            What do you mean “nor any new Honda/Acura new vehicle” ?
            When was the last time you checked? or you simply hate Honda/Acura???

          • 0 avatar
            CKNSLS Sierra SLT

            Lou_BC

            The UA issue was well documented with accidents-and the reason(s)
            The first recall, on November 2, 2009, was to correct a possible incursion of an incorrect or out-of-place front driver’s side floor mat into the foot pedal well, which can cause pedal entrapment. The second recall, on January 21, 2010, was begun after some crashes were shown not to have been caused by floor mat incursion. This latter defect was identified as a possible mechanical sticking of the accelerator pedal causing unintended acceleration, referred to as Sticking Accelerator Pedal by Toyota. The original action was initiated by Toyota in their Defect Information Report, dated October 5, 2009, amended January 27, 2010.[1] Following the floor mat and accelerator pedal recalls, Toyota also issued a separate recall for hybrid anti-lock brake software in February 2010.

            As far as dealership’s mechanics being fed up with replacing motors-last time I checked that’s part of what they are paid for. Would they rather be brain surgeons? Just asking…..

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            And Hyundai and Kia have also pretty generous about replacing engines even when owners never changed the oil – I read the Reddit posts from Hyundai and Kia techs that are replacing them.

            Sure, they’ve had issues like the metal shavings left in crankshaft oil passages (the 2.4l Theta II), but they’ve also replaced engines where the owners were lazy and didn’t care about following the maintenance schedule. That seems to be a fairly common thing with Kias.

            I have two college-attending daughters driving Fortes (a 2.4l Theta II, and a 1.8l MPI Nu), and they’ve been pretty good so far, at 143k miles and 123k miles respectively. We keep up with the maintenance, and use only OEM Kia parts.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      And yet, it’s the Koreans which are selling for above MSRP (esp. the Telluride) and not the new Highlander.

      Toyota owners do tend to be loyal (as are Honda), but that doesn’t mean others (not just H/K) can’t chip away and there have been more than a few loyal Toyota owners who have switched to the Telluride/Palisade.

      One being somone who works at Toyota HQ and hence could have gotten the new Highlander at employee pricing, but opted for the Telluride even tho had to pay over MSRP.

      And for the younger generations, loyalty to an auto brand is becoming a thing of the past.

      The top trims of the Telluride and Palisade are threats to the RX-L and MDX.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “I doubt Toyota is too concerned about the Korean rivals.”

      I don’t know about that. H/K’s surge over the past 20 years has certainly cost them a few customers.

      Market share in 2000:
      Toyota (9.10%), H/K (2.27%)

      Market share in 2019:
      Toyota (14.00%), H/K (7.78%)

      Both have grown over 20 years, but H/K’s US market share is now 1/2 instead of 1/4 of Toyota’s.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      About a decade or so ago, Toyota stated that the automaker they were keeping an eye on was Hyundai and not Honda or Nissan.

      In a couple of years, Hyundai and Kia will join the pickup and BoF SUV segments that Toyota leads worldwide (aside from the US/Canada).

  • avatar
    R Henry

    “but unfortunately for Toyota, it comes along just as Kia’s Telluride and Hyundai’s Palisade soar towards class dominance.”

    No symphathy here whatsoever. The Koreans created two vehicles which look great in and out, have great feature sets, and achieved solid build quality.

    Toyota Highlander, in contrast, is visually unappealing, is conservative–and BORING in comparison.

    My hope is that the competition from Korea will prompt Toyota, and others, to get some game.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Hyundai/Kia have NOT achieved solid build quality. Palisaurides have many known issues that are still being sorted out by Hyundai, dealership service departments are very busy, parts have a long wait time, and forums are riddled with complaints. Everything else you said is completely accurate.

      If Toyota lets quality slip (some may argue they have already started doing that with their “Seven Samurai of Cost Cutting”), they will lose any remaining game they have.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Let’s not pretend that there haven’t been Toyota models which haven’t had their fair share of recalls, much less class action lawsuits.

        They do tend to have less of an issue with powertrains because they keep them around for what seems like forever, and Toyota doesn’t usually go for tricky components like a DCT.

        • 0 avatar
          SSJeep

          Agreed, and a sound strategy. Toyota seems to go with hybridization for achieving MPG rather than newer engine technologies (VCM, direct injection, etc). And newer engine technologies are where many manufacturers are struggling now. Even Ford added PFI to their DI engines for reliability reasons.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I am surprised Toyota sent such a boring exterior color for a press review. That pale metallic blue (or is it gray?) does not photograph well. A boring color on a generic two-box thingy.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Haven not ridden or driven any of the cars in this class recently….

    Something tells me the Highlander will do fine.

    The koreans do seem nice, but honestly there is something about them I don’t like. I think its the exterior styling. It is very odd on both of them. And for whatever reason, I don’t have a stigma about Hyundai, but KIA has to be one of the worst brands on the market, image-wise.

    I’d bet everything the Toyota will be the longer-lasting, better-driving-for-longer vehicle as well. Not that I’m aware of any major reliability issues on the Koreans but the older Hyundai’s I’ve experienced feel much more worn than similar Toyotas of same age and mileage.

    I think I actually find the Explorer most appealing in this class with its RWD biased layout. Styling is good too. But I’m not an interior quality snob either. And questions will exist for awhile after that horrible launch.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d agree with you on the Explorer, if it didn’t look chintzy inside, and feel junky when you shut the doors. And one with the good engine choice (the ST or Platinum) costs an arm and a leg – otherwise, it’s a turbo-four or hybrid. Meh.

      If I needed something to haul a family and stuff around in, I’d skip this entire class and go for something like a loaded Pacifica.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Ford has consistently built cars for the fleet buyer in mind first, and I have no doubt the Explorer has to appeal to the fleet buyer before the general public. My local municipality has ordered a few 2020/21 Explorers and they definitely look cheaper compared to the ones they replaced, though I haven’t driven the new one yet, so I can’t speak of it’s performance vs old one.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Ford is now on the “D” builds (over 300000 built) for the Explorer and they seem to be coming off of the line in perfect shape. I might go look at an ST soon. I looked at a Palisade, and while I liked it, there wasn’t much fun to be found in acceleration or spirited driving. They also have not been proven reliable (yet). Once they are, it might be a different story.

      Hyundai / Kia needs to get their arms around their dealer experience as well. I dont know of anyone who would rate their experience at a Kia dealer as “positive”. One dealer had “market adjustment” price add-ons for Tellurides that added $5k-$10k to the sticker price.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I had one of these as a rental. Didn’t care for it, I was happy to drop it off. Annoying start/stop you have to remember to turn off every time. Actually felt cheap inside. Unrewarding driving experience – that was the overall impression. But, quiet and smooth enough, if boring.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      Does your current vehicle have start/stop? I have noticed many different car makes have start/stop now. 9/10 times in traffic it seems to be a GM/Ford that is restarting in traffic during my commute. I will have to look out for the Toyota to see it first hand. Seems to be common on a lot of cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Imagefont

        Start/stop seems to be on most new cars. Usually it’s slightly jarring when the engine restarts. I believe all cars have a button that allows you to turn it off, but it defaults back on every time you turn off the ignition. In a hybrid the engine starting and stopping is usually impossible to detect, but using the standard starting motor to restart the engine is never very smooth.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The Malibu is about the worst, with the Equinox second. When I’m walking to/from my work lot to my office, it’s one of those two that I always notice when I cross the one of the two intersections. Perhaps the Buicks and Caddies have a little more underhood insulation so that the restarts aren’t so obvious!

        A starter will be a maintenance item. Do those have AGM batteries standard, or just normal 12v automotive batteries?

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Manual disablement of start/stop is not the manufacturers choice. EPA / CAFE regulations are responsible for that nonsense.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Correct. If the system let you default to “off,” then the manufacturer would have to have the car evaluated and rated that way by the EPA, negating the benefits of start/stop in the first place.

        That said, I used a BMW tool to make the start-stop in my 2016 535i default to “off.” I imagine most other manufacturers have some way to easily defeat the system (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Or the aftermarket will come up with a way, in the form of a doohickey which plugs into the OBD II port, as there was for the DOD on the GMT-900 trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            Flipper35

            Our Pacifica has start/stop. It works fine and is mostly ignorable. It gets caught out sometimes at a stop sign, but otherwise is not really noticed. It starts the engine as soon as your brake pedal moves, it doesn’t wait for the foot to come off the pedal.

            One thing I do wish for is that they had it tied into the GPS. No reason for it to shut off in the garage right before I put it in park, which starts it right back up only to shut it off again.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    Whats with the snow on the ground? When were these photos taken?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Kia’s problem is that—even as it’s started to build extremely competitive and even class-leading vehicles—it never cleaned up its dealership image. Its dealerships still operate in a mode where they cater to deep-subprime customers, who will put up with almost anything, as they’re just happy to be approved. That’s a big deal when you have a car like the Telluride, that genuinely steals customers from Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and BMW. Those customers are used to a certain kind of experience. The Kia dealership I used to work at (as a web developer/IT person) was a prime example of that, and its principals were recently charged with six-years’ worth of defrauding banks and customers alike.

    The other problem with the Telluride *and* the Palisade is that they’re so hot, dealers are still selling them at or above MSRP, as soon as they get them on the lot. That means the actual transaction price for a Telluride or Palisade could be thousands more than the Highlander, which isn’t so lucky. That’s an opportunity for Toyota.

    And as for the Highlander itself, I think it’s a very safe product. It’s likely to be highly reliable over its lifetime. Toyota also got the tech and ergonomics just right. This no-nonsense, conservative approach is going to appeal to a lot of people who plan to keep their cars for a long time, while some competitors have more iffy longevity prospects.

    Meanwhile, my pick for best-driving large crossover would be the CX-9, but it’s considerably smaller than everything else (closer in size to a Sorento or Acadia). So top honors go to the Ascent, whose turbo flat-four and excellent AWD system pair for quite an engaging drive, relative to anything else. It’s also got some of the best space utilization in the segment. Ironically, the Traverse and Enclave, large as they are, also rate well. They handle better than they have any right to when equipped with the twin-clutch AWD system, and the 3.6-liter V6 and 9-speed AT are a good pairing. Unfortunately, I don’t like anything else about them. Also, I have not yet driven any version of the new Explorer.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Kyree, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have had a chance to drive a new Highlander and a new Cx9 kind of back to back for over a week period with being able to keep both over night for about 4 days each. It seems to me that they are the exact same size inside especially in the third row. I literally could not tell the difference. I realize the Highlander has a seat middle seat for the third row but in my mind and butt it is not usable.
      Please let me know you impressions of both in regards to what I am saying about space. I know you see way more cars than I do in a given time.
      thanks

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The Highlander, IMO, had more outright space in the second row than the CX-9, but both have similarly-cramped third rows. I agree that the Highlander’s middle seat is borderline unusable. The Explorer, Atlas, Ascent, Pilot, Telluride, Palisade, and of course the Traverse and Enclave handily trounce the Highlander and CX-9 for third-row usability.

        There was also something about the CX-9’s front seats that really didn’t work for me, and my shoulders started hurting within minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      I was disappointed to the 2000 lbs rowing capacity of the Subaru Ascent. I assume that’s due to the use of a CVT, which I don’t trust – they’re don’t seem to be repairable at all.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Before the Kia/Hyundai came out, we did test drive the Highlander, Ascent, and Pilot. I did not want a I4 in my car like the Ascent or CX9, nor did I want a CVT. I felt the Ascent’s CVT was very lazy coming from a stop. We didn’t think the highlander or Pilot were slow at all and preferred the traditional transmission and V6. We ended up with a Touring Odyssey and saved $10,000+ had we bought a Highlander/Pilot.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          The Pilot definitely drives better than the Highlander; I just can’t get over the styling or interior design. If Honda’s recent offerings are any indicator, they will soon rectify that shortcoming.

          I agree that the Odyssey is a wonderful choice.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        The higher trims of the Ascent are rated for 5,000 lbs, which is competitive for the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      I can attest to the terrible dealership experience and patronizing contempt they seem to have toward the average customer (and I think I live in the same area as Kyree, so he should know exactly to whom I am referring).

      I stopped in late last year and they basically treated me like a wet behind the ears 22 year-old. (I am 45 years-old, was relatively well-dressed, and pulled into their lot in my clean ’17 Audi A6 – obviously NOT a “dreamer” sitting on a 550 FICO score). It’s almost as if they expected ME to beg THEM to sell the car, not the other way around, and they wouldn’t even unlock the vehicle, let alone offer a test drive, without pressuring me for my SSN! (So they could no doubt ding my credit with a hard inquiry and go for the “hard-sell” based upon monthly payments).

      In sharp contrast, Lexus, Audi, Volvo, and Infiniti never demanded a credit check out of me and in fact they were all so eager to hand me the keys they practically fell over themselves. (Volvo and Audi didn’t even need a copy of my insurance or DL, and I offered!) THIS is the kind of treatment customers shopping in the higher-end segment expect, and until Kia improves in this regard they are essentially dead to me (and probably lots of others), regardless of how great their vehicles may be.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Yeah, I’ve never had any of the lux dealers even ask for a copy of a driver’s license—not that doing so is an issue—and certainly never a credit check. It’s just that they treat people so much better.

        Whereas I walked into the Honda store, asked them to test-drive a new Civic EX-L and Civic EX-L, and was instantly asked, “So…are you paying cash or financing?”

        Quite frankly, I often advise even budget-constrained people to find plebeian used cars at luxury dealerships, just for the experience. If you see, for example, a three-year-old Camry at the Lexus store and the price is right, buy it there. They’ll treat you right. And even if your credit is not great, they’ll have relationships with subprime lenders (there are plenty of high-income people who want luxury cars, but whose credit is bad, after all). They’re also more likely to fix any niggles (like missing manuals or even issues that crop up soon after you buy the car), instead of saying “sucks to be you,” and sending you on your way.

        • 0 avatar
          Felix Hoenikker

          In December 2019, my wife and I started shopping for a new car to replace her 1999 Honda Odyssey. Just for fun, I said we would do a back to back test of Nissan vs Infiniti SUVs. The local Nissan dealer was a complete disaster and not equipped to deal with my wife’s deep questioning about pricing and sales terms. I kind of felt sorry for the poor 20 something who obviously was not trained to deal with this. We left after test driving a Rogue and told then never to call us under threat of serious bodily injury.
          Afterward, we drove across town to the Infiniti dealership to look at their SUVs. The sales experience could not have been more stark. They bent over backwards to show us their stock of QX50s and QX60s, and we test drove them without providing any info except a valid drivers license. We ended up buying the QX50 at a nice discount on Dec 30, 2019 with the requirement that we pick it up on New Years’ day.
          So yes, I agree with Kyree to buy at a luxury dealership if you can swing the small difference of purchase price between the mass market model and the lower end of the Lux model.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, the CX-9 is one of the larger 3-row crossovers (several inches longer than a Palisade); it just has horrible packaging, hence the tight 3rd row.

      The trouble with going bland/boring is that buyers tend not to opt for higher trims/load up on options.

      While the lower trims of the Telluride are selling pretty well, it’s actually the top trims (esp. the very top SX-P) where Kia is having a tough time keeping up with demand).

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      @kyree

      “Its dealerships still operate in a mode where they cater to deep-subprime customers, who will put up with almost anything”

      I consider ALL car dealers to be scum. I have NEVER experienced a car dealer that was not sleezy and scummy in one way or another. They view their potential customers as prey. I get it, and I expect it.

      For me, the car buying experience typpically takes about 4 hours. I have done all my research in advance, I know what I want, and what I am going to pay for it. I also know the a__hole in the F&I office is going to tell me how stupid I am for not adding the Whiz-Bang 5000 Hoozy Whatsit for only $499. I can listen to all that scummy bovine excrement, and simply decline. I always do.

      The bottom line for me is getting the damn car, and LEAVING…never to return. I never use dealer service deparments (unless for free waranty/recall work) because I do my own service work. I can afford to pay someone to fix my car, but nobody completes work to my own high standard…so I do it myself.

      Since I can tolerate 4 hrs of wasted time to get whatever car I want. If I want a Kia Stinger, I am not going to let some commissioned A-hole at the local krappy Kia dealer F&I dept. keep me from getting what I want–on my terms.

      I never even consider “dealership experience” as a thing. My goal is to drive out ASAP, and to then enjoy the car for many years…during which time the four hours at the dealership fade from memory.

      • 0 avatar
        Bill Wade

        I had a most excellent experience at a RAM store in Idaho. A couple of emails and 15 minutes at the dealer picking up the vehicle. Also you can order your vehicle versus being pressured to buy something on the lot.

        I don’t even consider talking to anybody on the floor when I’m buying a vehicle. Many dealers now do business over the internet and you don’t have to deal with the $200 nitrogen in the tires or the $250 VIN etching BS.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Hyundai and Kia have the product, Toyota has the credibility.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    While I love that Kia and Hyundai are building incredibly designed and trimmed vehicles, I don’t remain confident their long-term quality, reliability or resale can match a Highlander or Pilot. For my money, I’d love a Highlander Limited Hybrid AWD…35-37 mpg is remarkable for this size and weight vehicle.

    Each of these 3 designs have little quirks….the Toyota with the rising bulky swoop on the side, the Kia with the upkick on the side window line and blobby/blocky back end, and the Hyundai with the terminator grille and odd rear design.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      In my eyes, Kia did a rather convincing copy of the Volvo XC90’s lines with the Telluride.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        I find the Telluride almost shockingly attractive. It cops styling ideas from every posh CUV/SUV, yet has its own identity.

        This Toyota, on the other hand…what the hell? The face is angry, the side is pregnant, the driver’s window is tiny…it’s just weird. I don’t think the Palisade is any great shakes either, styling wise, but that’s more from its attempt to look expensive with its “HELLO I AM A GENESIS jk lol” theme (as if North Americans have any idea what a Genesis is or associate any prestige with it) than from a “the designers got lost on the way to an idea” theme.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      Dave-
      I am not going to argue about reliability-that’s what a 100,000 mile power-train warranty is for. Resale gets brought by those who have never compared used values of Honda, Hyundai, and KIA, etc.and purchase price.

      I have-and I can tell you the difference can be as little as $2,000.00 BUT-the transaction price at purchase time makes up for that and then some.

      So basically-it’s a moot point.

      I bought a new 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe XL-Limited AWD over the Honda Pilot and saved $5,000.00. Last time I looked…the difference in resale value was less than $2,000.00.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    The Highlander is not a joy to drive…

    I highly doubt any potential buyer for this thing 1. Knows what a good driving car is or how it feels 2. Cares.

    Most likely they are handing the old (highlander) one down or it got wrecked and they need a new one. The other scenario is they are done with the Sienna as the youngsters are old enough to get in and out and Mom is feeling a bit more hip these days than a minivan + as noted above her BFF Karen has one and loves it.

    This is the automotive version of high waisted mom jeans.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I see they’re applying the Tundra philosophy to the Highlander now. “Meh, it’s good enough and we’ll sell them to our customers. We don’t need it to be competitive.” The same can be said for the Tacoma these days, but it doesn’t have NEARLY as much competition as the Highlander does.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      CoastieLenn

      Good point and comment!

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Despite being the newest kid on the block, the Highlander has finished middling in comparison tests, even behind the aging Pilot.

      The Telluride and Palisade are not only older, but are underpinned by the old H/K platform, whereas the Highlander is underpinned by Toyota’s latest TNGA platform.

      The Korean duo may see a switch to the new N3 platform as early as their respective refreshes (which is what the FL Santa Fe has done).

      The new Sorento will also be a threat to the Highlander, as it has about as much room at the 3rd row as the Toyota, but at a lower price point; a hybrid also being available to compete against the Highlander hybrid (not sure if the PHEV will be made available here).

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “You also trade an eight-speed automatic transmission for a CVT.”

    And again, Tim shows his complete ignorance about what a Toyota hybrid car is and how it works.

    No Toyota hybrid car “has a CVT”. It has Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which has nothing to do with a CVT.

    This isn’t the first time you’ve screwed this up. Go look it up before you do it again.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      I mean…okay, but even Ford, who use essentially the same system in their hybrids, refer to an “eCVT.” If it drives like a CVT… ya know.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Toyota’s media materials list it as an ECVT. So does every outlet. I checked with Toyota and that’s how they list it. While I’d be happy to call out an OEM for misuse of terms, even a cursory Google shows it’s essentially a CVT, at least in spirit. We list it as CVT because that’s what Toyota does. Feel free to beef with Toyota, but until we can think of a better way to say it/explain it, we’ll defer to the manufacturer.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Evidently the Telluride is magic. It’s proven to be a license to print money, as well as a brand flagship pulling the whole Kia brand upmarket as its big sedans were never able to do. I’m sure they’ll jack up its price and still do a brisk business with it.

    Having never driven one, I’ll ask the other B&Bers: Is it the road manners that sell it? What’s it got?

  • avatar
    ABC-2000

    This is ridiculous, If I have to choose I will never get Kia / Hyundai, people keep buying Rav4 and Camry for a very good reason, they are better cars overall, go sell a 5 year old Kia, good luck!
    BTW, I do not own or drive a Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      ABC-2000
      If you buy a little less than a 5 year old Hyundai/Kia product, you have a power train warranty that goes out to 60,000 miles. Unless you buy a “certified” Toyota-at a dealership you don’t have a warranty. I know-they are the greatest cars on Earth and NEVER BREAK those Toyotas. There are people driving Sienna mini-vans whose transmission broke who would take exception with that.
      https://www.carcomplaints.com/news/2020/toyota-8-speed-transmission-problems-lawsuit.shtml

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I don’t purchase a vehicle so I can sell it someday; i.e. I don’t worry about resale. I guess that’s why I’ve had so many Chryslers, Hyundais, and Kias over the years.

      The only Honda I ever had was terrible and I was thankful for its decent resale after less than 2 years.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “The Highlander… can feel heavy, ponderous, and slow at times”

    This 2020 Toyota Highlander is ~2 inches shorter than my 2005 Toyota Avalon. Horsepower and torque are within spitting distance. It weighs roughly 900 pounds more (approximately 4 NFL linebackers).

    I.
    Do.
    Not.
    Get.
    It.

    Toyota, you are losing it. (But you knew this.)

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Big cars with a big engine can feel powerful yet not. Generally you get an enormous shove in the ass from a dead stop, followed by extreme reluctance to downshift once at speed. Why? MPG ratings aside, my guess is that this is what constitutes luxury to someone who traded in an underpowered economy car to treat themselves to a more luxurious vehicle: no straining to get up to speed, and no downshifting and frantic revving to maintain it. Today’s big CUVs remind me of Chryslers from the era when they finally shoehorned a V6 into the K-car platform (well helLO, Miz LeBaron): the throttle tip-in is almost comically aggressive, but stabbing the pedal further doesn’t really get you more.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Another Toyota Motor Co product hit with the ugly stick.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Do Toyota know you turned a review of their product into a HyunKia commercial?

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    Funny thing, if I was shopping for a vehicle in this class neither the Toyota or the Koreans would be on my list. I wouldn’t even consider them.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    The liquid crystal display display….

    Or you can also use the term, digital odometer.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    What the new Highlander needs is a V8! Maybe tune to 400 hp and 400 lbs. torque!

  • avatar
    petey

    Is it just me or is the 3.5L motor getting long in the tooth….
    Come on Toyota, Your competitors are offering V8’s, and turbos, even twin turbos in their family sleds.
    If your going to charge 55K canadian, I would demand more then a na V6.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mopar4wd: Alot of the northeast is at it’s limits with the grid too. Alot of it is poor regulation and outright...
  • DungBeetle62: I can vouch for Honda option simplicity. When I bought my 2000 Prelude, it was basically “what...
  • L: Tesla ought to feel pretty good about clones popping up all over the industry which mimic their cars both inside...
  • mopar4wd: In the case of some earlier low mileage EV’s the degradation was enough that people with long...
  • slavuta: my 2009 highlander had 8 recalls

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber