Toyota Motor Corp. is giving its new 2020 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV a shot of adrenalin. The revamped people hauler now sports a tougher look and some off-road chops.
The automaker showed off the fourth-generation Highlander at the 2019 New York International Auto Show on Wednesday.
Built on a new vehicle platform called TNGA-K, which uses high-strength steel, the 2020 Highlander has a stiffer unibody structure and newfound capability compared with the outgoing model.
Toyota also added a new base model, the L. The freshman trim level joins the LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum levels. The different trims are distinguished by front-end styling.
All are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Two all-wheel-drive systems are available. For L, LE and XLE, the AWD system sends 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels. The Limited and Platinum trims get dynamic torque vectoring AWD for torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to better navigate off-road trails. It also comes with Mud & Sand and Rock & Dirt driving modes.
The V6 models also have an optional towing package that enables a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Trailer-sway control, hill-start assist and downhill-assist control are included features. The upgrade also includes a heavy-duty radiator and improved fan performance.
A hybrid 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors is available on all trim levels but the L. The hybrid produces 240 horsepower and an estimated 34 mpg in city and highway driving combined. The current model has a combined driving mpg rating of 28. The hybrid engine is also available in two- or all-wheel-drive.
The new Highlander is 2.36 inches longer, creating more rear cargo space. Behind the third row is 16 cubic feet of stowage. Folding the 60/40 split rear seats increases space to 40.6 cubic feet.
Seating for eight is standard in the L and LE with a second-row bench. Captain’s chairs are optional for the XLE and Limited and standard in the Platinum. Both second-row configurations slide for more rear space.
The Platinum also gets head’s-up display and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen. The other trims come with an 8-inch display. All are Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-compatible.
Toyota’s suite of driver-assistance tech is standard on all 2020 Highlander models and includes pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beams. Lane-tracing assist and road-sign assist are new to the standard package. Blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert is available on certain trims.
The fourth-generation Highlander includes five new exterior colors: Magnetic Gray Metallic, Moon Dust (blue), Ruby Flare Pearl, Blueprint and Opulent Amber (brown). Interior seat upholstery on the L and LE is black or dark gray cloth. The XLE gets Softex, Toyota’s artificial leather, in Harvest Beige, dark gray or black. The Limited has those three colors in leather, and the Platinum gets a fourth color, Glazed Caramel.
The XLE, Limited and Platinum trims come with standard roof rails. Limited and Platinum get heated and ventilated front seats and a 120-volt power outlet in the second row. Platinum has a panoramic moonroof and rain-sensing wipers.
Toyota did not announce pricing, but the gas Highlander models will go on sale this winter. The hybrid version will follow in February 2020.