2020 Toyota Highlander / Highlander Hybrid Review, Pricing, and Specs (2024)

2020 Toyota Highlander / Highlander Hybrid Review, Pricing, and Specs (1)

Starting at $35,775

8/10

C/D RATING

Specs

Photos

2020 Toyota Highlander / Highlander Hybrid Review, Pricing, and Specs (2)

Toyota

8/10 C/D RATING

Specs

Photos

  • Highs Handsomely styled, fuel-sipping hybrid option, well equipped even at the base level.
  • Lows Boring driving dynamics, snug third row, busy dashboard design.
  • Verdict As a fashionable high-quality family SUV, the 2020 Highlander excels.
By Drew Dorian

Overview

With plenty of room to haul the fam and your stuff, the 2020 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid are two handsome options in the mid-size-SUV segment that carry Toyota's rock-solid reputation for reliability. With three rows of seating and plenty of cargo space, these utes are practical choices, even though rivals such as the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade offer slightly more value. Toyota's mid-size SUV is new for 2020 and offers many useful features not found in the outgoing Highlander. Both a gasoline V-6 and a hybridized four-cylinder are available, and the Highlander delivers a smooth ride and a quiet cabin. Many driver-assistance features are standard across the range, including automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

What's New for 2020?

Toyota has revamped the Highlander for 2020. It's vastly improved compared with the 2019 model it replaces. Next year, a sportier-looking XSE model will join the lineup.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

The price of the 2020 Toyota Highlander starts at $35,775 and goes up to $48,025 depending on the trim and options.

In our view, the mid-range XLE is the pick of the litter. It has heated front seats, a wireless smartphone-charging pad, and a power sunroof, among other niceties. We'd also spring for the Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation package, which brings in-dash navigation and an upgraded stereo system. All-wheel drive will add $1600 to the bottom line. And opting for the hybrid powertrain over the standard V-6 will cost an extra $1400.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The Highlander comes with a 295-hp 3.5-liter V-6, which pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. During a brief test drive, we found the V-6 could tackle short on-ramps reasonably enough; at our test track, our all-wheel drive test vehicle made it to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. We haven't had the chance to take the new Highlander to the track, but we'll update this story with test results once we do. Handling is unexciting but stable, and the ride is perfectly suitable for family-chauffer duty. More driving enjoyment can be found in the Mazda CX-9.

View Photos

Hybrid Powertrain

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors team up for a combined 243 horsepower in the Highlander Hybrid. This model comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and a choice between front- and all-wheel drive. Leveraging Toyota's hybrid expertise, this powertrain provides buyers with something more fuel efficient than the standard model. The tradeoff likely will come in acceleration performance, both due to the hybrid's lower horsepower rating and the fact that this model uses a CVT instead of the nonhybrid's eight-speed automatic. At our test track, the hybrid model made it to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. Potential buyers in this segment will perhaps know that the Ford Explorer comes in hybrid form, too. But pitting these utes against each other, the Toyota comes out on top in terms of fuel economy, and the Highlander Hybrid's starting price of $39,320 is a whopping $14,155 less than the Explorer Hybrid's.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The EPA estimates that the 2020 Highlander V-6 will deliver up to 29 mpg on the highway when equipped with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive cuts that by 2 mpg. Hybrid models carry higher ratings, with front-wheel-drive variants earning 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. We've tested the standard Highlander on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, where it delivered the 28 mpg. When the hybrid visits our office, we'll be putting its fuel efficiency to the test on the same route.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

For 2020, the Highlander gets an interior makeover to match its updated exterior styling. Base L and mid-range LE models can seat eight passengers using bench seats in the second and third rows, but a seven-seat arrangement with second-row captain's chairs is available on higher trims. Passenger space is more generous here than in the CX-9, but not as spacious as in the Chevrolet Traverse, especially in the third row. Materials throughout the cabin are much improved over those in the last-generation Highlander. Upscale Limited and Platinum models provide the most creature comforts, but compared with the features proffered by the Palisade or Telluride, they fall short. The cargo area behind the third row fit a mere four carry-on suitcases; the Traverse fit six.

View Photos

Infotainment and Connectivity

An 8.0-inch infotainment system comes standard on most trims, but the Highlander Limited and Platinum get a 12.3-inch display. An 11-speaker JBL audio system is available. Toyota provides SiriusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration for all models.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

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View Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Highlander a five-star safety rating; the Highlander was also named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). As is the Toyota way, the 2020 Highlander offers a standard suite of driver-assistance features. The package includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and automatic high-beam headlamps. Key safety features include:

  • Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross-traffic alert
  • Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Toyota's warranty coverage adheres to the norm of the segment; however, buyers get two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance, which is a nice perk that most rivals don't offer. The electrified Highlander comes with a separate hybrid-component warranty that provides eight years or 100,000 miles of coverage.

  • Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid-component warranty covers eight years or 100,000 miles
  • Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles

2020 Toyota Highlander / Highlander Hybrid Review, Pricing, and Specs (10)

Specifications

Specifications

2020 Toyota Highlander

VEHICLE TYPE
front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive, 7- or 8-passenger, 4-door wagon

BASE PRICE
L, $35,720; LE, $37,920; LE Hybrid, $39,320; XLE, $40,720; XLE Hybrid, $42,120, Limited, $44,770; Limited Hybrid, $46,170; Platinum, $47,970; Platinum Hybrid, $49,370

POWERTRAIN
DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 186 hp, 175 lb-ft + 2 or 3 AC motors (combined output, 243 hp); DOHC 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6, 295 hp, 263 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS
continuously variable automatic, 8-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 194.9 in
Width: 76.0 in
Height: 68.1 in
Passenger volume: 135–141 cu ft
Trunk volume: 16 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 4200–4650 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 6.8–8.2 sec
100 mph: 18.2–19.5 sec
¼-mile: 15.3–16.6 sec
Top speed: 115 mph

EPA FUEL ECONOMY(C/DEST)
Combined/city/highway: 23–36/20–36/27–35 mpg

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