2020 Toyota Highlander
There’s some exciting news in the world of sport utility vehicles: the Toyota Highlander has undergone a complete redesign for the 2020 model year. This family hauler has been a big player in the three-row vehicle arena for quite some time, debuting in 2001 as the first unibody SUV. Traditional body-on-frame SUVs feel like trucks – after all, they’re built on truck platforms. But the Highlander broke ground by putting a body built for comfort onto a smooth-riding car-based platform, technically making it a large crossover rather than an SUV.
Since 2016, consumers have bought more Highlanders than any other three-row vehicle out there. As it starts its fourth generation on a new platform (Toyota New Global Architecture), a sleeker look, and significant technological advances, this large-capacity (up to eight passengers) vehicle is set for yet another year of dominating sales.
Trim and Powertrains
The 2020 Toyota Highlander is available in five trim levels: L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum. Gone is the four-cylinder engine that was previously the standard; all trims now get the 295-horsepower (262 lb.-ft. of torque) 3.5-liter V6. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive come standard across the board, but all-wheel drive is available. There’s also a hybrid edition available, but this page focuses solely on the standard gasoline-only model.
Comfort and Convenience
The base L is set up for eight passengers with a 60/40-split second-row bench seat (which slides, reclines, and folds flat). It gets a nice lineup of standard features, including Toyota’s Smart Key System for the front doors and liftgate with push-button ignition and remote keyless entry, heated power side mirrors with turn-signal indicators, LED headlights, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seating, and a rearview camera. The LE adds LED fog lights, a power liftgate, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, while the XLE provides roof rails, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a sunroof, heated front seats, front- and second-row seats trimmed with SofTex faux leather, a power-adjustable passenger seat, and seven-passenger seating with second-row fold-down captain’s chairs (the bench seat for three is optional). Upgrade to the Limited and you’ll get a hands-free liftgate, leather-trimmed first- and second-row seats, ventilated front seats, memory functions for the driver’s seat, and a heated steering wheel. At the top of the trim ladder is the Platinum, which yields a panoramic sunroof, heated second-row seats, and a digital rearview mirror.
Safety and Technology
All Highlander trims come standard with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system of active driver aids. This excellent technology suite includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, road sign assist, and cyclist detection. A blind-spot monitor and intelligent clearance sonar are additional available active-safety features.
The L trim’s infotainment system has an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker audio system, four USB data ports, two 12V outlets, advanced voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free capabilities, and satellite radio. The LE adds HD radio, and the XLE gets a wireless smartphone charger and is eligible for the available integrated navigation system. The Limited gets a premium 11-speaker JBL audio system, and the Platinum upgrades its infotainment system with a 12.3-inch touchscreen.