Toyota is expanding the wide array of alternatives with the presentation of the 2017 Highlander, a highly successful SUV which current generation was launched back in 2014. The trims expansion comes with visual revisions we appreciate.
The good-looking Highlander has been quite a surprise for most people. As expected from Toyota, it is a top-notch product but this model even went beyond expectations. This is a quality SUV with a lot to offer. Previously, the Highlander was able to reach a pretty decent range of customers. Now, the plan of the Japanese maker is to increase this range and satisfy more users with different styles.
Let’s take a closer look at these changes.
Powertrain and Specs
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The bigger novelties for the 2017 Highlander comes in terms of powertrain. Toyota is discarding the previously used 2GR-FE engine that was a 3.5 L V6 to use an updated, more efficient 3.5 L V6 denominated 2GR-FKS. This powerplant will be direct-and-port-injected as well. This is the same powerplant used in the 2016 Tacoma, so we have good numbers on it.
Also, users will have the chance to choose a 2.7 L four-cylinder or a gas-electric engine. Despite the fuel economy factor, the best-selling Highlander is the one equipped with the V6.
Models with the four-cylinder powerplant will have to stick with the front-wheel-drive while the AWD setup is only available for the biggest engine. This V6 will also enjoy a new 8-speed automatic transmission which is the most recent pride for the car maker. These changes aim to a better fuel economy. The same for the new auto stop-start feature that will be present on every trim except the LE.
The outgoing Highlander feature the following numbers in terms of efficiency: 18 mpg for the city and 24 mpg on the highway with AWD setup and 19 mpg for the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the FWD. While we don’t have official numbers for the upcoming model, we can already assume that they will be way better. But, of course, there is going to be an even more efficient version: the hybrid.
The 2017 hybrid Highlander will be more affordable than in previous years, so it will represent a real option for plenty of users. This way, the LE and XLE trims will enjoy this cutting-edge powertrain setup. The outgoing hybrid has been rated at 28 mpg combined, which could be a reasonable base to estimate the upcoming model’s efficiency.
Appearance and Convenience
The 2017 Highlander is also updating what we see and what we get inside the cabin. The most appreciated novelty in this matter is the SE trim, which will be a sport-inspired model. Differences are clear on this one. In the front fascia, we see an exclusive dark-silver grille in the lower area along with attractive headlights surrounds. The dark-silver detailing is also present in the roof rails. Also, the massive 19-inch wheels are a proper addition for the SE. The degree of fancy detailing in the exterior and the array of paint jobs will vary depending on the selected trim.
Going back the most interesting trim, the SE, the interior is getting a special treatment. The premium seats come wrapped in black leather upholstery with silver contrast stitching. In the meanwhile, the tech items will be more democratic. The list of standard features includes automatic high-beams, forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, and many others.
The expensive Limited Platinum trim gets a 360-degree-view monitor as standard while the blind-spot warning feature now begins at the XLE trim. Another appreciated improvement is the increase to five USB ports while the outgoing model only offers one.
The Bottom Line
The refreshed 2017 Highlander is one sure bet from Toyota. We are getting more variety and quality within an already successful SUV. The 2016 New York Auto Show is going to be the place to unveil final details such as pricing and dates.