2020 Toyota Highlander Review


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2020 Toyota Highlander Overview

The fourth-generation Toyota Highlander arrives for the 2020 model year after debuting at the 2019 New York International Auto Show.

The new L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum trims all share modern design elements like a floating roof, narrow exterior lights, and a more aerodynamic body. The Limited and Platinum grades get additional touches, such as 20-inch alloy wheels, chrome trim, and chrome-plated lower bumper areas.

Inside, Toyota made it a priority to provide a plush experience for the Highlander's passengers, so it includes plenty of softly padded surfaces and stitched material. You can choose between cloth, leatherette, and leather upholstery options in a number of colors, depending on the trim. As far as utility goes, the 2020 Highlander gains 2.36 inches in total length, which goes directly to the cargo area. With all three rows in use, it offers 16.1 cubic feet of cargo space, which grows to 40.6 with the third row folded and 73.3 with both rear rows stowed. What’s more, you can slide the second row an extra 1.2 inches further forward, which contributes directly to increased space in the third row.

The Highlander comes in both gasoline and hybrid versions, although we cover the Highlander Hybrid as a separate model. The gasoline version employs a 3.5-liter V6 engine that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque and includes automatic stop/start technology. It pairs with an 8-speed automatic transmission. You get to choose between standard front-wheel drive (FWD) and two all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems. The L, LE, and XLE trims offer an AWD system that sends up to 50 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels in order to maintain traction. Meanwhile, the Limited and Platinum trims offer a more sophisticated AWD system with multiple terrain modes as well as the ability to vary torque between the left and right rear wheels and to cut power to the rear wheels during steady highway cruising to save fuel. Toyota expects the Highlander V6 to deliver 22 mpg combined.

Each of the Highlander’s five trims is progressively nicer than the last. Starting with the base L trim, you get 18-inch wheels, LED exterior lights, 3-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat, an 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Alexa in-car compatibility, Waze navigation, Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Qi wireless charging, rear privacy glass, keyless start, and keyless access.

The LE trim tacks on a power liftgate, LED fog lights, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, and a blind-spot monitor.

The XLE grade benefits from a 10-way power driver’s seat, second-row sun shades, a 4-way power passenger seat, a nicer instrument cluster, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, garage door openers, heated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, a sunroof, and leatherette upholstery.

Stepping up to the Limited trim gets you a 120-volt second-row power outlet, 20-inch alloy wheels, ambient interior lighting, driver’s seat memory, a hands-free power liftgate, puddle lights, perforated leather upholstery, projector-beam headlights, wood interior trim, JBL audio, and a navigation system.

Finally, the top-of-the-line Platinum grade gets unique 20-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch infotainment system touchscreen, adaptive headlights, a digital rear-view mirror, embossed leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, and a panoramic moonroof.

The new Highlander boasts an impressive amount of safety technology. Included on every model is Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, which bundles lane-tracing assist, road-sign assist, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert comes on the LE trim and above, while rear cross-traffic braking is available on the Limited trim and above. A reversing camera is standard across all trims, but a 360-degree camera is optional on the Limited grade and standard on the Platinum.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a highly competent crossover for as many as eight passengers. Look for this new and improved model later this year.


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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