The first time we saw a test prototype of the all-new 2020 Toyota Highlander we couldn’t make much of it given that it featured hastily-applied cardboard panels to hide its appearance.
We now get a better look at the fourth-generation Highlander (also known as the Kluger in Australia) courtesy of a new set of spy shots that show Toyota has moved on to a more conventional type of camouflage. In doing so, it has inadvertently given us a better look at the midsize SUV, more specifically its proportions.
For starters, the 2020 Highlander seems slightly larger than the current model to keep up with its arch-rival, the 2020 Ford Explorer. It also appears to adopt a more rugged-looking design inspired by the RAV4. Influences from the smaller model are obvious at the front where the Highlander adopts a more aggressive grille treatment and slim headlights that wrap high along the front fenders.
Unlike the smaller SUV, the Highlander will have fewer creases on the bodywork as it will go for a cleaner, more upscale look compared to the edgier, more youthful Toyota RAV4. Moving on towards the rear, it becomes obvious that designers went for a sleek profile courtesy of a very inclined D-pillar — even though the exaggerated padding suggests otherwise.
Interestingly, our photographers caught the 2020 Highlander in the company of a Mazda CX-9, as one of the images reveals. Using the Mazda for benchmark testing tells you all you need to know about the direction Toyota is taking with the new Highlander from a dynamic standpoint.
The automaker is expected to focus on lightweight construction and new powertrains to increase efficiency, although no specific details are available at the time. Still, a Highlander hybrid should be a safe bet. Expect Toyota to reveal its new midsize SUV later this year or in early 2020.