Toyota released the fifth generation of its wildly popular midsize crossover at the 2019 New York International Auto Show. It’s again offered in gas and hybrid versions with 7- or 8-passenger seating, but brings more cargo room, a number of newly available features, and better hybrid fuel efficiency.
Built on a new TNGA-K platform Toyota says is stiffer than the preceding one, the new Highlander grows more than two inches in overall length, all added to the rear resulting in increased cargo volume. Also notably new is that the 2020 Highlander will be the first to offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the latter, especially, long being an odd omission from Toyota equipment lists. Other added standard features will be satellite radio, WiFi connectivity, and Waze/Amazon Alexa compatibility. Newly available will be 20-inch wheels and a 12.3-inch touchscreen for top-line Platinum trim levels.
Powertrains effectively carry over, though with some tweaks to the hybrid one that add a significant 17 percent to its fuel-economy figures. Gas models get a 295-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and are again offered with either front- or all-wheel drive, with Toyota estimating fuel-economy ratings of 22 mpg combined. Hybrids have a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors to make 240 horsepower that Toyota estimates will earn a 34-mpg combined rating (up from 28). Also, hybrids will now be offered in front-drive as well as carryover all-wheel-drive form.
Standard on all 2020 Highlanders is Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, a collection of high-tech safety features that includes forward collision warning and automatic braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and mitigation, lane-keep assist, full-speed dynamic cruise control, automatic high beams, and road-sign assist. Also offered are a blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and obstacle detection.
Gas versions of the 2020 Toyota Highlander are due to go on sale this coming December, with Hybrids following in February of next year.
Highlander has long been one of our favorite midsize crossovers, and this redesign adds new features that bring it thoroughly up to date. Furthermore, the Hybrid’s increased fuel economy pushes it over the 30-mpg barrier, which is both a marketing and emotional coup. The new Highlander looks like another winner ….