May 31, 2020


Connecting People

2020 Toyota Highlander review: Practical but posh

The Highlander by some means escaped Toyota’s ever-increasing drive to make its grilles as large as doable.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

It truly is tricky to get excited about a midsize, a few-row SUV, until you have a bunch of children and even a lot more cargo, at which level this section will really feel like a conserving grace. Practicality in this arena prolonged intended foregoing some of the industry’s niceties, but the hottest crop of crossovers has eschewed that notion. The new-for-2020 Toyota Highlander embodies that thought, tacking some posh silver linings on to an if not simple spouse and children equipment to wonderful result.


  • Much easier on the eyes
  • Composed and comfy
  • Very good typical tech

Really don’t Like

  • Unusual center armrest storage
  • Tokyo-subway 3rd row house

The 2020 Toyota Highlander’s updates address just about each and every corner of the motor vehicle, from aesthetics to functionality. No person automatically puts good appears on the entrance burner in this section, but the Joneses must be retained up with, and the Highlander adopts a fresh glance that truly impresses. It appears… neat, basically, with incredibly potent fenders, en-vogue slender lights and a grille that bucks Toyota’s pattern of ever-increasing maws.

Getting taken a number of prolonged road visits in earlier-technology Highlanders, I might have to say that my absolute preferred part of the 2020 model’s update is its new inside. It truly is impressively attractive, primarily on my tester’s $51,000 Platinum trim (a lot more on that eye-watering sticker later on). The dashboard’s layering usually takes on a lifetime of its have, with a potent aluminum-glance trim piece shifting from the infotainment monitor to the passenger-aspect door frame. Since this is the Highlander’s optimum trim, you can find a great deal of stitched leather, leaving only a number of tricky plastics for spots that are generally out of sight or demand some additional longevity, like near the carpet.

The Highlander’s new dash style and design also provides anything that each and every spouse and children crossover sorely requirements: storage. There is certainly a passenger cubby earlier mentioned the glove box, yet another just one underneath the infotainment monitor (with a second hidey-gap underneath that just one), in addition to your typical door pockets and center console armrest. That latter just one is a sticking level for me: The rolling-style opener is incredibly tiny, and you can find a massive wi-fi charger you require to rotate upward (?) to entry the purse-ish-sized cave inside of. Other questionable frippery features the wire opening between the two centrally mounted cubbies, which is solely unwanted given that I can just leave my cellular phone in the lower just one.

Head a small more back in the ‘Yota and you will not shed any inch of near-luxe appointment. The second- and 3rd-row seats are wrapped in the same plush leather as the fronts, and they offer you the suitable blend of convenience and assistance. It truly is well worth noting, although, that the 3rd row ought to only be made use of for toddlers and emergencies with barely any top delta between the flooring and the seat cushion, grownups will generally sit in the fetal posture for the length of the experience, primarily if the second-row occupants will not scooch up. At 6-toes tall, I might be comfy back there for 5 minutes, tops. The 3rd row’s finest use is in its flattened variety, which expands cargo house in a large way.

Just as the inside is a beautiful detail with a number of barely-there missteps thrown in, the same can be stated for the way the 2020 Highlander drives. Though earlier Highlanders have felt a small flimsy to me, the 2020 design feels sound as a rock. It truly is almost Lexus levels of silent inside of, hushing the din of the more and more messed-up globe around us and offering households a small separation time. That isolation is more reinforced by ample suspension travel and, on my Platinum trim, suitably thick Goodyear Eagle Touring all-season tires.

Propulsion for all non-hybrid Highlanders comes from the same engine: a three.5-liter V6 developing 295 horsepower and 263 pound-toes of torque. I wouldn’t phone its output sprightly, but it really is a lot more than more than enough to get the full shebang up to pace on the freeway or in traffic, regardless of the truth that the motor vehicle has developed between generations whereas output has not. Toyota blissfully skipped above its standard repeatedly variable transmission in favor of an 8-pace automatic, which is content material to knock off shifts in the qualifications with small drama.

The steering is as numb as any other modern day Toyota, but it turns the wheels, so I am not complaining. The brakes and throttle are each dead simple to modulate with smoothness, keeping kids’ heads from unnecessarily bobbing about (a lot more than standard, at minimum, if you let ’em have a soda or two).

Though the EPA estimates the all-wheel-travel Highlander Platinum will accomplish 20 miles for each gallon town and 27 mpg freeway, my suitable foot can not match all those figures, falling closer to 22 or 23 mpg on the freeway and mid-to-late teens in city driving. I am seriously seeking, as well, I guarantee. If gas thrift is higher on your must-have record, I would probably level you in the route of the electrified Highlander Hybrid.

The Highlander’s home monitor can get a small fast paced if you will not know where to glance — or how to set up the tiles for optimum distraction mitigation.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Though even some recent Toyotas haven’t been the most technologically superior automobiles on the block, you can find no denying the ever-rising focus on in-motor vehicle tech, and the 2020 Highlander is poised to deliver. It all starts with the standard way of interfacing with the telematics: the infotainment monitor. An 8-inch show is typical on lower trims, but my Platinum design comes toting a twelve-incher that fills the dashboard properly. Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are each typical throughout the board, which is wonderful, since they keep on being my preferred approaches to use Toyota’s Entune program (study: ignoring it).

Now, you can find not anything at all erroneous with the program. In this iteration, it really is responsive more than enough and its sizing signifies it really is able of displaying a full lot of information and facts at once. Yet, the light colorway and a bit awkward jumble of tiles might existing a busier physical appearance than distraction-mitigation efforts would appreciate. It doesn’t consider prolonged to get made use of to, although, and I appreciate that the bigger monitor has a special location focused to providing additional information and facts about the climate manage, music or gas economic climate. Alexa integration is a nice touch for connected households, as is a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Enthusiasts of classic buttons will breathe a sigh of aid at the four (admittedly tiny) switches beneath the monitor that offer you speedy hops to particular pieces, whether it really is the map or music.

It truly is a Toyota, so it really is practically a supplied that the 2020 Highlander would pack safety programs out the wazoo. Toyota Protection Perception two., the automaker’s suite of active and passive defense tech, is typical on each and every Highlander. It features stuff you hope you in no way require, like lane-departure mitigation and automatic crisis braking with pedestrian detection, in addition to effort-savers like full-pace adaptive cruise manage and automatic higher beams. Blind-spot checking and a encompass-check out digicam are also typical on greater trims, the latter of which is presented in a suitably higher resolution for uncomplicated control-rash avoidance.

The 3rd row is finest still left as an extension of the cargo location, until you might be in a pinch.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The 2020 Highlander might get started out a shade below $35,000, but my prime-tier Constrained AWD tester rings in at a almost not comfortable $51,000 and transform. Sticking with gasoline designs for better points of comparison, I might decide for the $40,000-ish XLE FWD trim, which still has masses of safety programs, heated seats and wi-fi unit charging. If you will not thoughts a smaller monitor, leatherette and a non-panoramic moonroof, you can find a lot of income to be saved.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is in the center of the goddamn Thunderdome. The 2020 Honda Pilot is having a small aged, primarily in the infotainment department, but its starting value is lower and it really is wonderful to travel. The 2021 VW Atlas was just supplied a sound visible refresh, and I like its inside style and design to Toyota’s. The major threats to the Highlander, although, are the 2020 Kia Telluride and 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Frankly speaking, these Korean fraternal twins rock, lifting mass-sector transportation practically to the amount of art.

But at times you just want anything that is common, and regardless of becoming wholly redesigned for the 2020 design 12 months, the Highlander is precisely that. Its on-road demeanor is as predictable as the sunset, the correct trims can transform it into 90% of a Lexus and it really is loaded with the technological doodads everybody’s immediately after in 2020. I might be carrying out you beautiful audience a disservice by not recommending this get put at or near the prime of your a few-row-SUV procuring record.