2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

Highlander Hybrid

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2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview

The fourth-generation Toyota Highlander Hybrid debuted at the 2019 New York International Auto Show and arrives as a 2020 model. The prior LE, XLE and Limited trims return alongside a new Platinum trim. The Limited and Platinum grades get extra detailing by way of 20-inch alloy wheels, additional chrome side trim, and chrome-plated bumper trim.

The interior of the new Highlander Hybrid is plusher than the one it replaces with plenty of softly padded surfaces and premium materials for seven or eight passengers. You get a choice of standard cloth, optional leatherette, or leather upholstery. There’s 16.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, 40.6 behind the second row, and 73.3 behind the front seats. The second row also moves an additional 1.2 inches further forward, giving third-row occupants more legroom.

The big news is the powertrain. For 2020, the Highlander Hybrid gets a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine supported by a pair of electric motors, for a combined 240 horsepower. Normal, Eco, and Sport modes let you tailor the car’s tuning to specific types of driving, while an EV mode enables you to travel on electric power for short distances at low speeds. Better still, the battery pack fits neatly under the front seats, so the Highlander Hybrid doesn’t lose any cargo or passenger space. For the first time, the Highlander Hybrid also comes in FWD and AWD variants. The AWD version uses a separate motor that engages the rear wheels when necessary. Toyota says the system is up to 17 percent more efficient than the one in the old Highlander Hybrid, getting an estimated 34 combined mpg.

On the content front, the base L trim gets keyless access, keyless start, 18-inch wheels, LED exterior lights, an 8-way power driver’s seat, an 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 3-zone climate control, Alexa in-car compatibility, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Waze navigation, Qi wireless charging, and rear privacy glass. The LE trim adds blind-spot monitoring, a power liftgate, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.

The XLE trim tacks on a 10-way power driver’s seat, a 4-way power passenger’s seat, heated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, an upgraded instrument cluster, a garage door opener, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a sunroof, and leatherette upholstery.

The Limited grade steps things up with 20-inch alloy wheels, a 120-volt second-row power outlet, ambient interior lighting, a hands-free power liftgate, driver’s seat memory, puddle lights, perforated leather upholstery, projector-beam headlights, wood interior trim, a JBL audio package, and navigation.

Lastly, the Platinum trim boasts niceties like unique 20-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, adaptive headlights, a digital rear-view mirror, heated second-row seats, embossed leather upholstery, and a panoramic sunroof.

Toyota also makes a renewed commitment to safety with the new Highlander Hybrid. Every model gets the Toyota Safety System 2.0 standard, which includes lane-tracing assist, road-sign assist, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and full-speed adaptive cruise control. Rear cross-traffic braking comes with the Limited trim and above. While a reversing camera is standard across all trims, you can opt for an advanced 360-degree camera system on the Limited grade, which is standard on Platinum trims.

The Highlander Hybrid has long been one of the only large hybrid crossovers on the market, but the 2020 model shows that Toyota isn’t just resting on its laurels.


Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.

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