Toyota Highlander gains new tech

18 April, 2019, 05:23 | Author: Regina Silva
  • 2020 Toyota Highlander

Facing its first three-row hybrid rival, the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid that bowed Thursday at the 2019 NY auto show boasting one big number: 34 mpg combined, according to the automaker's estimates. Buyers can choose between seven or eight seats and maximum storage space is a generous 73.3 cubic feet. That figure is a hefty 6 mpg higher than last year's hybrid combined EPA test estimate, thanks in part to a new front-wheel-drive version. The outgoing Highlander Hybrid was only available with all-wheel drive. Hybrid models will boast a total system output of 240 horsepower-not bad at all for the mileage targets. Limited and Platinum trim levels can split torque front to back and side to side for better grip or fuel economy. There's softer padding and more stitching across all trim levels to increase the sense of hand-crafted quality, and Toyota's most anal of sound technicians have specially tuned the Highlander's sound deadening to filter out frequencies of sound that drown out the human voice. Even the attractive hybrid mentioned above can play along, as its AWD system incorporates an electric motor to the rear axle in a system similar to that used in the Prius AWD-E announced past year. A base Highlander L trim is reserved for the V-6 only. The hybrid's system has no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles.

In addition to the normal, sport, eco, and EV drive modes, the Highlander Hybrid offers a system that works in tandem with the navigation system to anticipate traffic conditions ahead and can allow the crossover to coast for longer distances when the driver's foot is off the gas pedal. The crossover SUV's profile is blockier and edgier like the RAV4 but with rounded design cues pulled from the Camry.

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In terms of entertainment and media-oriented technology, all Highlander trims come standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Highlander Platinums swap in a flashier 12.3-inch touchscreen.

For the 2020 model year, Toyota transitioned the Highlander onto the TNGA-K Platform, a new foundation that's shared with several other recent models in the company's portfolio. XLE, Limited, and Platinum trims replace the middle bench with two individual captain's chairs.

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