When the redesigned Toyota Highlander goes on sale in late December, the three-row SUV will start at $35,720 (all prices include the destination charge). That’s up a steep $2,770 from 2019, and it makes the new Highlander one of the priciest base models in its class. But it’s also one of the best-equipped, with a wealth of newly standard features that could make the base trim a one-and-done choice for family shoppers.
Those who want more premium features can move up the trim levels — in ascending order, the SUV comes in L, LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum grades — toward a factory-loaded ceiling around $50,000. That’s commensurate with the outgoing Highlander’s ceiling and in the neighborhood of most factory-loaded rivals.
It’s a crowded field, mind you. We just compared seven three-row SUVs after a week of testing, and Toyota could not furnish the redesigned 2020 Highlander in time. Not to worry: We’ll publish driving impressions from the media preview, which we attended this week, on Dec. 18.
So Whaddaya Get for All That Cash?
The base price is bound to prompt some sticker shock, given rivals like the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade and Nissan Pathfinder all start at less than $33,000. But the Highlander’s base L trim has a wealth of standard features. Among them are an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a power driver’s seat, one-touch power windows for both rows, tri-zone automatic climate control and keyless access with push-button start. None of those features was standard, or in some cases even optional, on the 2019 Highlander. (Notable standards that carry over for 2020 include 18-inch alloy wheels and two years or 25,000 miles of free maintenance.)
On the safety and driver-assistance front, all trims get automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlights, lane-centering steering and adaptive cruise control down to a stop; those last two capabilities are new for 2020.
Higher trims can add items like a power liftgate, blind spot warning, vinyl or leather upholstery, a power passenger seat (though it lacks a height adjustment) and a panoramic moonroof. Of note, Toyota restricts the Highlander’s wow factor — a 12.3-inch dashboard touchscreen, which replaces the 8-inch unit — to upper-crust variants. It’s optional on the Limited and included on the Platinum but unavailable further down.
Front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive runs another $1,600 on the L, LE and XLE and $1,950 on Limited and Platinum models; the higher-cost version adds torque vectoring to aid handling.
More From Cars.com:
- 2020 Toyota Highlander Video: High-Lander, Medium Improvements
- Is the 2020 Toyota Highlander Interior Any Roomier Than Before?
- 2020 Toyota Highlander Grows a Little, Gets More Efficient Hybrid
- What’s the Best 3-Row SUV for 2020?
- We Have a Winner: Why the 2020 Hyundai Palisade Is the Best 3-Row SUV
Highlander Hybrid Pricing
The 2020 Highlander Hybrid goes on sale in February 2020. Offered from LE through Platinum trims, it runs $39,320 through about $52,000 — $1,400 more than equivalent non-hybrid trims. That’s a tad north of the outgoing Highlander Hybrid when you consider it had standard AWD, which is now optional. Still, the Highlander Hybrid’s only clear rival, the new Ford Explorer Hybrid, occupies a separate price echelon entirely: It starts at more than $53,000 and spirals into the $60,000s if you get carried away with options.
Trading the outgoing V-6-powered drivetrain for an Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the new Highlander Hybrid gets a Toyota-estimated 35-36 mpg depending on driveline. That’s a bit more than the automaker’s initial estimates and a substantial gain over both the non-hybrid 2020 Highlander (23-24 mpg, depending on driveline and trim) and outgoing 2019 Highlander Hybrid (an EPA-official 28-29 mpg). Published EPA estimates are pending, but if the hybrid figures pan out, it handily beats the Explorer Hybrid (25-28 mpg, driveline depending) — though Ford’s hybrid has considerably more power, at least on paper.
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