By: Khaty Omar
Toyota’s popular Highlander three-row crossover SUV enters its fourth generation with an all-new 2020 model debuting Wednesday at the New York Auto Show.
When the family hauler goes on sale in December, it will face formidable competition in form of the redesigned Ford Explorer as well as segment mainstays like the Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse and Kia Sorento, among others. Let’s dive into the numbers and see how the redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander stacks up with some of the segment’s finest and most popular vehicles.
At first, the Highlander will be available only with a carryover 3.5-liter V6 engine featuring the same horsepower, torque and towing figures as last year’s model. The eight-speed automatic transmission is also carryover. By February of next year, the Highlander Hybrid will be rolling into dealerships with a powertrain much different than the 2019 Highlander Hybrid.
Instead of electrifying a V6 engine up to 306 horsepower, the new four-cylinder Highlander Hybrid will have to work with 66 fewer ponies. However, because the hybrid is now the base powertrain, standard horsepower is up by 55, making the Toyota much more competitive with the segment’s other base powertrains.
At this early stage, Toyota hasn’t said specifically whether the Highlander Hybrid will use a continuously variable transmission. But from how Toyota has described it so far, the transmission sounds similar in concept to the CVT being used in the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, so it’s probably safe to assume the Highlander Hybrid will incorporate this type of transmission, as well.
Toyota has yet to quote a tow rating for the hybrid, but if the smaller 2019 RAV4 Hybrid can tow 1,750 pounds, its big brother should be able to pull at least that much.
According to this tale of the tape, the 2020 Toyota Highlander is definitely more competitive than before. The hybrid model’s fuel economy should be a particularly compelling draw. Updated infotainment and a healthy suite of driver-assistance features sure aren’t going to hurt, either, though abbreviated space might.
Now, all that’s left is for us to take the new 2020 Toyota Highlander for a spin, so keep it locked here on Roadshow for our upcoming first-drive review.