2023 Toyota Highlander Review By Larry Nutson
2023 Toyota Highlander
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
THE AUTO CHANNEL
The Highlander is Toyota’s 3-row midsize crossover SUV and among the top-sellers in this class of utility vehicles. This current generation of Highlander first appeared in 2020.
Back then, on the invite of Toyota, I participated in the line-off celebration of the new Highlander at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana plant where it is produced. Toyota has made a tremendous investment in the U.S. market. The plant in Princeton had just completed a $1.3 billion modernization that added 550 new jobs to the workforce that totaled over 7,000 individuals. They like to say it’s the second largest city in Gibson County, Indiana.
Riding on the all-new 15% more rigid Toyota TNGA-K platform, wheelbase was increased by 2.36 inches with a corresponding increase in overall length. It also got a bit wider. Overall, there is more room on the inside, especially legroom and cargo capacity, than the previous Highlander model.
The 2021 and 2022 model years added a new XSE trim grade, projector LED headlights, improvement to the suite of safety features, and a Bronze Edition Highlander Hybrid.
For 2023, Highlander has a new, higher-torque and more efficient 265-HP 2.4-L turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 310 lb-ft of torque. This is a 17% increase over the previous 3.5-liter V6 engine’s 263 lb-ft that it replaces. EPA fuel economy estimates are improved with up to 25 EPA-rated combined MPG. Larger multimedia screens, power-folding outside mirrors on Limited and Platinum grades, and improved wireless charging also are featured for 2023.
The Highlander is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, a complete contingent of collision warning, collision intervention, and driving control assistance features.
In all, the Highlander is available in 22 variations. There are two engines to choose from: the 2.4-L turbo or the Hybrid. Front-wheel or all-wheel drive is offered with both engines. Trim grades are L, LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum pus a Bronze Edition for the Hybrid.
Depending trim grade seating is for seven or eight. With the 2.4-L turbo towing is rated at 5,000 lbs. The Hybrid is rated to tow 3,500 lbs.
EPA test-cycle ratings for the 2.4-L turbo FWD models are 25 combined mpg, with 22 city mpg and 29 highway mpg. AWD models are EPA rated at 24 combined mpg, with 21 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.
All Hybrid models are EPA rated at 36 combined mpg, with 36 city mpg and 35 highway mpg. Except, AWD Limited and Platinum models are rated at 35 combined mpg, with 35 city mpg and 34 highway mpg.
MSRPs start at $36,420 and top out $52,625. The delivery fee is $1,335 additional.
More detailed information about the 2023 Toyota Highlander can be found at www.toyota.com.
For my recent reacquaintance with the Highlander I drove a 2023 Hybrid Platinum with all-wheel drive. Base MSRP for this vehicle is $52,425. Options and shipping brought the total to $55,647.
Coincident with this drive experience my wife and I needed to road trip from Chicago to southeast Michigan to visit family. This was my first long drive in the Highlander. The cabin has a very nice premium look and feel which was enhanced to my liking with the Caramel leather-trimmed seats. The characteristic high seating position of SUVs helps to offer a clear view of the road ahead.
Wireless Apple Car Play let us listen to our playlists and a pod cast or two. The large touchscreen is nicely integrated into the dash and easy to reach and use. “His and hers” climate controls are always good to have. A new rearview mirror uses a camera to give a view to the rear when the back seat is full of bobbing heads or tall cargo. I’m a bit picky about cabin noise. The Highlander is nicely quiet with minimal wind, tire and engine noise making for comfortable conversation and audio listening.
The Hybrid powertrain is plenty responsive with its combination of a gasoline engine and instant-torque electric motors. I didn’t quite reach the EPA mpg ratings, probably due to the higher highway speeds at which we drove. Hybrids are best a lower, urban speeds.
Overall, this new 2023 Highlander delivered a nice driving experience.
Toyota has announced that the all-new Grand Highlander SUV will have its world premiere on the eve of Chicago Auto Show on February 8, 2023. The company is expanding the Highlander nameplate with the introduction of the three-row Grand Highlander.
Toyota recently dropped the first teaser of the upcoming Grand Highlander which showcases the rear profile of the SUV. According to the Japanese automaker, Toyota Grand Highlander would be “the ultimate road-trip vehicle" while positioned between the Highlander and Sequoia SUVs.
The future is electric. Happy motoring!
© 2023 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy