2020 Toyota Highlander Drops Strange Cardboard Camo, Reveals RAV4 Influences

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.

more photos...

Photo credits: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien for Carscoops


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  • Dennis Scipio

    I do like the look of the new RAV4, and I hope the new Highlander doesn’t disappoint.

  • MegaMoneyMan

    You can be rest assured Toyota is not going to screw this up again as they did with the 2013 Highlander model. RAV4 is a good sign.

    • NoMan2015

      How exactly was the 2013 redesign a screw up? They sell boatloads of these.

      • MegaMoneyMan

        I’m sorry, I actually meant the 2014 model. Personally, I hated the grill design and that eventually got fixed in the latter models.

        • NoMan2015

          Right, it was 2014. Even still, the facelift didn’t show up until the 2017 model, so the 2014 did just fine for three model years.

  • SpongeBob99Swell

    Will definitely look forward to it! Especially since Toyota has been killing it lately with the new Supra, Avalon, Camry, RAV4, and Corolla (both sedan and hatch).

    • no25

      Avalon…really…? lol

      • SpongeBob99Swell

        Yes, the Avalon indeed. It amazingly excels at basically everything, especially in the design. All it needs is Android Auto (even as standard) for me to rate it perfect.

        With this said, the new Avalon is the best vehicle of an otherwise dying segment, and Toyota’s best redesign (I’ll see since the new Supra is coming soon). If you’re going to keep making fun of me for unbiasely loving the Avalon as always, be my guest as you’re probably a hater who can’t afford one.

        • no25

          Dude, calm down. Can you even afford one? I can, actually. I just don’t want one. Get over yourself. I don’t like the Avalon. The front styling looks ridiculous. The interior is very nice and the rear end is aggressive. I agree with you with the other models listed. I just don’t with the Avalon. Stop acting like a child when someone doesn’t agree with you and saying I’m “a hater who can’t afford one” because sweetheart, I can afford more than stupid Avalon. I’ve owned a BMW, Mercedes, and a Lexus.

          • SpongeBob99Swell

            So.. just for the matter of the front grille? That’s it?? Is the front grille styling (despite everything else) really enough to make a car bad? Just one minor flaw? That alone makes your “opinion” biased. Hence yeah, coming from someone who owns a GT86 and IS350 F-Sport (both modified with high quality parts done by myself), and soon a GR Supra, don’t assume I’m poor in response. If you don’t want one, then there’s no point in complaining about it towards me to discredit me like this in the first place, hence your biased ‘opinion’.

            If you wanna know my viewpoint, here it is: The body is grown-up, elegant, and mature, the touches are premium (especially the full-adaptive LED lighting on higher trims plus sequential turn signals with those connected tail lamps), the lines, bodywork, and proportions are all smooth, cohesive and elegant, and everything flows together very nicely with some nice sculpting too here and there (even the grille, while pretty big, is , and doesn’t try so hard to dress up as something it isn’t, without having the bland-ness to it (not even the non-sporty trims look mundane yet classy, and the big grille is sleek, well-sculpted, modern, cohesive, and actually looks quite fashionable yet somehow works well with the overall (already stylish) design.. nor again without overly exaggerating its identity. While backing that up with genuine fun behind the wheel while following function especially for a large sedan. Adding onto that, is plenty luxurious with amazingly refined quality and fit-and-finish throughout especially given the car’s price point making it an amazing luxury car alternative, it’s super comfortable with a very family-friendly environment as expected for a semi-luxury large sedan, has slick yet fuel efficient powertrains especially given the size of the vehicle, it’s easy-to-live with, it’s refined basically everywhere, it’s tech-filled with being a flawless bang for your buck for what you get, likely to be very reliable with excellent residual and resale values (knowing Toyota), it’s wonderful to drive as it strikes a superb balance between a smooth ride and nimble dynamics even for a large sedan without having to exaggerate it’s capabilities, and is overall just amazing. In fact, it’s almost perfect. Especially for this segment and mainstream sedans in general.

            Just for the sake of one flaw, no car is perfect. Even some of the best cars of all-time have some share of flaws.

          • no25

            1. all opinions are biased. they’re opinions.
            2. im didn’t read the rest of your little book here because i dont care about what some 13 year old on the internet has to say. have a good day, sweetheart. 🙂

          • Kenneth

            I would disagree about the “super comfortable” statement as post 2013 models are fitted with a harder suspension. The Ultimate models soften this a little but not enough. As for looks, I think it is more controversial which is why we are seeing more discussion on the subject. Personally, I dislike the new styling having owned several of these models, so my current 2013 model is my last one.

          • SpongeBob99Swell

            Talking about the 2019 as I did test one. It rides firmly and comfortably over all surfaces and will even indulge the driver in some spirited moves should he or she feel for it. Steering is nice, the brakes are strong and best of all, the revised 3.5-litre V6 is as smooth and creamy as ever.

            It raises the refinement level to that of a Lexus LS. I drove one back to back with the Avalon, and there was no considerable difference in noise, vibration or harshness and smoothness.

            In the end, loved it so much. Add Android Auto and I’ll rate it perfect.

          • Kenneth

            The Toyota Highlander and the Lexus RX share the same SUV platform, so I would not expect any considerable difference in noise, vibration or harshness and smoothness.

          • SpongeBob99Swell

            I know, but I was talking about the new Avalon in case you didn’t know.

          • Kenneth

            I was referring to your comment “It raises the refinement level to that of a Lexus LS”

    • Harry_Wild

      The New Supra, you think it looks sharp?

      • SpongeBob99Swell

        Yes, it’s Toyota’s best-looking vehicle since the new Avalon and FT-1 Concept. The overall design looks well put out yet aggressive in the right way, the proportions are tight, the stance is athletic yet elegant, and a compact body that seems to be well put out. The FT-1 may still be a bit more of my cup of tea, but given how this new Supra will rival the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche Cayman, Alpine A110, Audi TT, etc just to name a few (all of which are comparably sized), I think this is a very well put out execution, especially when the new Supra in itself already takes so much inspiration from that gorgeous concept. What a novel idea.

        Already my next car, and will definitely involve mine in the aftermarket scene (will also attempt in making the fake vents functional as claimed by Tada-san)


    So now it’s just a 3 row Rav4, like a Nissan Xtrail?

    • Miknik

      No. looks larger and more upright, just influenced design wise.

  • J. P.

    After this, Toyota needs a midsize 2 row crossover to take the Venza’s place

  • WalthamDan

    I wish they would offer a 3rd row delete option. Our 2017’s 3rd row has been folded down since we bought it. I’d rather have the extra cargo room and less weight.

    But more importantly, stop making the default setup to be in ECO mode, forcing people to scroll through a menu at every start up to locate the option to switch it off.

  • NewGuest2twenty2

    I’m hoping the new mounting location of the side mirrors will eliminate that nasty whistling sound that comes through the windows after you hit 45 mph! I’ve driven Highlanders for years, and will not purchase the new one if they haven’t fixed that.

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