The Toyota Highlander is a three-row, midsize SUV that’s been in production since 2000. Known as the Toyota Kluger in right-hand-drive markets, the SUV has been on sale in markets such as North America, Japan and Australia.
The fourth generation of the SUV made its global debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show and was made available to customers late last year. Here are five things you should know about one of Toyota’s most popular SUVs worldwide.
It’s based on the new TNGA-K platform
The fourth-generation Highlander is built on Toyota’s new TNGA-K platform. The TNGA-K platform, according to Toyota, makes extensive use of high-strength steel which gives the SUV a stiffer and more robust structure than the outgoing model.
In terms of dimensions, the Highlander measures 4,950mm in length, 1,930mm in width and 1,729mm in height with a 2,850mm-long wheelbase. The ground clearance is set at 203mm. In comparison to the Fortuner in the Indian market, the Highlander is 155mm longer, 75mm wider and has a 105mm longer wheelbase. However, the Fortuner is 106mm taller and has a 22mm higher ground clearance than the Highlander.
It looks contemporary
Overall, the new Highlander looks bold and contemporary and has familiar Toyota styling cues. Up front, the SUV features a massive chrome-embellished grille that’s flanked by slim headlight units and angular fog lamp housings in the bumper. Further down, there’s a silver skid plate and a large air dam that almost runs the width of the SUV. Along the sides, the strong character lines and smart alloy wheels lend the new Highlander a purposeful stance. Out back, it features a well-integrated boot-lid spoiler and Lexus-like slim LED tail-lights. The new Highlander is also said to be more aerodynamically efficient than before.
It’s got a plush, feature-rich cabin
The interior of the new Highlander is more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as it features a similar steering wheel and layered dashboard design as the outgoing model. However, the dash is now dominated by a new floating touchscreen that falls directly in the line of sight of the driver. Meanwhile, the AC vents have been repositioned below the infotainment and climate control buttons. There are also two large cubby spaces in the dashboard; one below the AC vents in the centre console and one on the passenger side, above the glovebox. Overall, the interior of the new Highlander looks contemporary but lacks flair.
In terms of seating, the Highlander can be had as either a 7- or 8-seater, with the former getting individual captain’s chairs in the middle row.
As far as features go, the top-spec Platinum trim gets a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto LED headlamps and wipers, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, leather seats, hands-free boot opening, a 360-degree camera and 20-inch alloy wheels.
It features a hybrid powertrain
Internationally, the fourth-gen Highlander is offered with two engine options. There’s a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that puts out 295hp and 356Nm of torque and comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard.
The other option is a hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors for a total output of 243hp. This is paired with an eCVT gearbox. As standard, both powertrains come with two-wheel drive only but, they can be optioned with all-wheel drive as well.
Toyota Highlander rivals
As far as rivals go, in international markets, the Toyota Highlander competes with the Honda Pilot, the Ford Explorer, the Hyundai Palisade and the 2020 World Car of the Year, the Kia Telluride.
While there is no official news of an India launch, should Toyota decide to bring the Highlander to our shores, it will be positioned above the Fortuner in the brand’s line-up.
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