Redesign offers many improvements
Roseville, CA- The sport utility vehicle offerings by Toyota have always been a favorite here, providing quality and diversity up and down the lineup.
Whether shopping for a compact SUV or a super-sized model, there is something in the Toyota lineup for everyone. The Toyota SUV list includes the CH-R, RAV4, 4Runner, Highlander, Land Cruiser, and Sequoia. And if one desires a more upscale SUV, Toyota’s luxury division (Lexus) has a variety of SUV options as well.
The fourth-generation 2020 Toyota Highlander gets more attention this year than usual, thanks to a smart redesign that includes exterior styling updates, improved performance, additional safety features, and some technology additions. It also has a more rigid platform that Toyota says will improve ride quality.
Traditionally one of the most highly-rated midsize sport utility vehicles, the Highlander is a sensible, well-designed crossover. It’s a three-row, family-friendly SUV that is offered in five trim levels (L, LE, XLE, Limited, Platinum) and a hybrid version.
The latest edition of the Highlander is slightly larger than previous models. The SUV is 2.4-inches longer and a little wider. That additional room increases the cargo space behind the third-row seating.
We tested the upscale Platinum version, a fashionably stylish model with exterior upgrades that include a black grille with chrome trim, chrome-plated lower rear fascia, premium projector headlamps, and the first-ever 20-inch alloy wheels.
The Highlander is a versatile SUV that can serve as the family hauler, thanks to its three rows of seating for seven or eight people, depending on the configuration. Yet it can also be suitable for a smaller family that likes to have the third row folded down to create a large cargo space (48.4 cubic feet). With the third row up, the storage area is dramatically different – 16 cubic feet.
At a Glance – 2020 Toyota Highlander
- Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 295 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 21-29 mpg
- Estimated price: $34,700 to $48,900
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
A smartly-designed cabin includes some thoughtful dashboard storage cubbies and a convenient spot for a cell phone – atop the center console. An 8-inch infotainment screen is standard and so are (finally) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto incorporation. The Highlander employs satisfying technology, yet goes old-school as well with a convenient tuning knob.
Long drives in the Highlander won’t be a problem for people in the first two rows, which deliver comfort and ample leg and head room. A definite weakness is the third row, where seating is only suitable for small kids. Some rivals offer a larger third row.
After abandoning the underpowered four-cylinder engine this year, the Highlander now provides strong performance from its standard 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds and the fuel economy ranges from 21-29 mpg. Towing capacity is listed at 5,000 pounds.
The Highlander has always received high marks for its driving capabilities. It handles the daily commute with ease and also performs well when negotiating challenging, twisting roads. This year’s safety features now include a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, radar cruise control, lane tracing and road sign assist, and lane departure alert with steering assist.
One of the original midsize crossover SUVs, the Highlander continues to also be among the best. The redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander is better than ever with multiple improvements over previous models.