The 2023 Highlander will feature a significant update, with the implementation of a 2.4-liter turbo-4 engine to replace the existing 3.5-liter V-6 in all gas versions of the three-row SUV. The turbo-4 engine’s forced induction technology contributes to its 265 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque, surpassing the V-6’s 295 hp but limited to 263 lb-ft of torque. Comparable to the previous V-6, the turbo-4 engine maintains the same towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. The front-wheel-drive models with the new engine have an expected fuel economy of 24 mpg combined, equivalent to the outgoing V-6.
The vehicle’s exterior design is striking and attention-grabbing, with its diverse array of angles, curves, and textured surfaces. In contrast, the interior exudes elegance and sophistication.
Toyota has departed from the unremarkable look of previous Highlander models, opting instead for refined French-curve lines adorning the vehicle’s fenders and haunches. The running lights and air intakes have also been modified to complement the sharply defined grille, while the slim taillights add a touch of sleekness to the bulky rear end.
Furthermore, the interior has undergone a significant overhaul. The dashboard is now tiered, featuring ample storage space for small items. The touchscreen and major controls have been angled towards the driver, ensuring a more user-friendly interface. The Highlander Limited we evaluated boasts a spacious 12.3-inch touchscreen and a contemporary 12.3-inch digital gauge display, providing it with a modern appearance and a wide range of features.
The Highlander is equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 265 horsepower, and it comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle is available in both front- and all-wheel drive, although our test car was equipped with the latter. While the handling is not particularly exciting, it remains stable, and the ride is ideal for families. With all-wheel drive, the Highlander can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
Moreover, the Highlander offers three distinct all-wheel-drive systems. The basic system divides half of the power to the rear wheels in the event of slippage. However, the Highlander Limited features torque vectoring across the rear axle, resulting in superior power distribution and handling. As a result, the Highlander Limited offers more precise power delivery, resulting in better handling and a more enjoyable driving experience.
We had the opportunity to test drive the 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited AWD for a week, which was equipped with only one option: the $850 Panoramic View Monitor. The vehicle’s MSRP is $48,025, bringing the total price to $50,210.
The three-row family crossover segment is full of competitive options for buyers, and the Highlander is no exception.
Among its top rivals, the Telluride and Pilot have received numerous accolades and the Kia boasts an attractive appearance. The Pilot, which is new this year, features a retro-inspired design and modern technology.
While the Atlas and Chevy Traverse offer generous space, their lackluster powertrains and unremarkable styling hold them back from standing out in the segment. Ultimately, the Pilot and Highlander have a slight edge over their competitors.