2020 Toyota Highlander Looks At RAV4 For Inspiration, New 34 MPG 4-Cylinder Hybrid (Live Pics)

Toyota’s all-new 2020 Highlander SUV has landed at the 2019 New York Auto Show, showcasing a chiseled new design that borrows styling cues from the smaller RAV4, new tech and a more efficient hybrid system. The gasoline-powered 2020 Highlander will arrive in Toyota dealerships in December, while the Hybrid in February 2020.

Compared to its predecessor, the all-new Highlander is claimed to be safer, more comfortable, more durable and of a higher built quality, relying on a new vehicle platform dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K).

A more sophisticated attitude

At heart, the 2020 Toyota Highlander remains a family-friendly SUV. However, the Japanese automaker wanted to make sure that this new-generation model had a more powerful stance and a more elegant exterior, while also featuring greater aerodynamic efficiency (reducing wind noise while enhancing stability).

In terms of design, L, LE and XLE grades come with a black front grille with silver trim, while Limited and Platinum models are distinguished by a black grille with chrome trim, chrome-plated lower rear fascia, premium projector headlights and 20-inch wheels (a Highlander first).

Only three colors were carried over from 2019: Blizzard Pearl ($395 option), Celestial Silver Metallic and Midnight Black Metallic. The following five colors are brand new: Magnetic Gray Metallic, Moon Dust (blue), Ruby Flare Pearl (red), Blueprint and Opulent Amber (brown).

This fourth-gen SUV is 2.36 inches (60 mm) longer than its predecessor, while its second row can be slid an extra 1.2-inches further up in order to increase distance between the 2nd and 3rd rows.

As for practicality, the L and LE grades feature a second-row bench (seating for 8) as standard, while the XLE and Limited grades come standard with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven (seating for 8 optional). The Platinum grade also has a Captain’s Chair second row design as standard. With all the seats in use, the Highlander offers 16.1 cu.ft (456 liters) of cargo room behind the third row. Fold everything and you end up with 73.3 cu.ft (2,075 liters) of room.

Smooth and efficient engine range

Even though Toyota chose to keep the current Highlander’s 295 HP 3.5-liter V6 engine for this all-new generation model, a new hybrid system is used for the electrified version, combining an efficient 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with two electric motors instead of the outgoing Hybrid’s more powerful, but thirstier V6.

In total, the 4-cylinder hybrid returns a system output of 240hp with an EPA-estimated 34 combined mpg (6.9 l/100km), a 17 percent improvement over the previous-gen Highlander V6 Hybrid’s 28 combined mpg (8.4 l/100 km), although the latter was rated at a much higher 306 HP.

“The Highlander Hybrid’s Predictive Efficient Drive (PED) analyzes the driver’s daily driving habits and upcoming road and traffic conditions to more efficiently charge and discharge the hybrid battery accordingly alongside actual driving. The more the vehicle is driven, the more data is accumulated, contributing to practical fuel efficiency. Many actual roads chosen to represent common usage scenarios, such as in urban congestion or on mountain roads, were driven on and analyzed to create control that feels natural to the driver when operating to enable more efficient driving.”

It’s the same system found on the latest RAV4 Hybrid, in which, the more the vehicle is driven, the more data is accumulated, contributing to practical fuel efficiency. Many actual roads chosen to represent common usage scenarios, such as in urban congestion or on mountain roads, were driven on and analyzed to create control that feels natural to the driver when operating to enable more efficient driving.

On the move, drivers can choose between Normal, Eco and Sport modes for the Highlander Hybrid, while both versions get a choice of either 2WD or AWD with Dynamic Torque Vectoring. Facing a sticky situation? You can engage the Multi-Terrain Select control dial for Mud & Sand or Rock & Dirt.

Comfort is everything

Step inside the 2020 Highlander and you’ll be greeted by softer padded surfaces (compared to its predecessor), available Qi wireless charging, new ambient LED lighting and more. The flagship Platinum grade even has embossed perforated leather trim.

As far as tech, all grades come standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM and Wi-Fi connectivity through AT&T. The Platinum grade offers standard Dynamic Navigation and a 12.3-inch screen, to go with the JBL Premium Audio System with 1,200 watts and 11 speakers.

The entry-level L grade is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, 18-inch alloys, 3-zone automatic climate control, 4.2-inch instrument panel display, 8-way power driver’s seat, auto up/down for all power windows, 8-inch touchscreen display, front seat reading lights and cargo area light, LED headlights and taillights, privacy glass on rear side, quarter and liftgate windows and Smart Key entry.

Opt for the LE and you gain a power liftgate, blind spot monitor, additional multimedia capability, LED fog lights and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. The XLE meanwhile adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, 2nd row sun shades, 4-way power front passenger seat, 7-inch instrument panel display, auto dimming rear-view mirror with garage door opener, auto LED headlights with Auto High Beam, plated interior door handle, LED fog lights, power tilt and slid moon roof and roof rails. The Limited spec however offers ambient interior lighting, driver’s seat memory, heated and ventilated front seats, the JBL audio system and more.

Finally you have Platinum, which boasts the 12.3-inch multimedia head-unit, 20-inch wheels, adaptive and self-leveling headlights, head-up display, heated 2nd row seats, panoramic moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, Birds Eye camera and the embossed perforated leather-trimmed seats.

Actively keeping you safe

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is equipped with the second-generation of Toyota Safety Sense, which means you get Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard on LE grade and above, while Rear Cross Traffic Braking is available with clearance sonar on Limited and above. The previously-mentioned Birds Eye camera with Perimeter Scan is available on Limited and standard on Platinum.

*Article updated with live images from the New York Auto Show

more photos...
  • SteersUright

    It looks like an appliance which, I suppose, is the point.

  • Merc1

    I can’t believe that after all these years Toyota still has that stupid looking exhaust pipe jutting down from underneath the vehicle. Trash.

    That said, this will sell like fresh hotcakes.


    • enthusia

      Does that even matter in a world where fake exhaust ports are on practically every other car?

      • Merc1

        Do you know what I’m actually talking about? This has nothing to do with the where the exhaust exits.


        • ACM1899

          I agree. the downward pipe is annoying

        • man

          Back in ‘93 I had a Camry with the same issue. Everyday my coworkers would tell me my exhaust was falling down.

      • Toronado_II

        Exactly my thought ! Why ? Oh why ?!? Looks like a default or a bad layout and it’s so ugly.

    • donald seymour

      I’ll take that over a fake exhaust pipe any day.

    • getoffme

      Better than what Germans are doing with their fake exhaust outlets.

  • disqus_6AHa0ycWUI

    This is hideous

  • Nordschleife

    Looks a little annoyed In the face and more of a refresh but I guess that’s the road we are headed.

  • no25

    This looks like a major update of the current one. The direct front angle looks pretty good and so does the direct rear shot. Once the angles start kicking in…ehhh…also, interior is a step down from the current one which is pretty nice.

    • Edpund Bai

      The interior is a step up not step down.

      • no25

        My opinion sweetheart. Don’t tell me I’m wrong. The stupid claw looking thing grabbing the screen looks ridiculously bad.

  • Сафиуллина-Мохамед Рамазанов

    Toyota will print money with it, that said it’s a very small evolution design wise , now by adding TNGA to the formula it will be amazing, glad they didn’t ditch the V6 though

  • Leo Liao

    The exhaust pipe at the bottom of the car is always a super failure.

    • man

      Toyota could have done chrome exhaust tips, but this looks cheap.


    it will be a major success for Toyota US

  • no25

    Okay actually I found this on Toyota’s website, and I really like the stance of the blue one. I think it looks a lot better here than the released photos. I think the live photos will actually make it look even better! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab025dc94dda85735806a7c595b8d4f75df66c96bd1a952507ee6ac86c5baf5e.jpg

  • Thunderbolt

    bye bye SUV, hello mini van.

  • Escalade Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    For the first-time in a long time this Toyota looks normal and not like some alien-faced creature. Wow! And it has Lexus tail lamps, in my opinion.

  • Matthijs
  • The front grille seems awkward and I’m kind of sad that the in-dash parcel shelf is significantly smaller now.

  • Enoch Gabriel Gonzales

    Sorry to offend feminists but this thing looks too girly. The blacked-out A-pillar made it look like a ford flex, not an explorer

    • donald seymour

      Really ? I felt more of the middle of the road vibe to it.

  • Able

    Toyota definitely stole the tailights out of the Lexus parts bin.

  • Six Thousand Times

    The RAV4 looks good but this has all gone wrong.


    This new highlander looks funny and futuristic at the same time. I like it

  • man

    This looks like a design that got over cooked with a hideous front face and complicated dash. What is all that stuff hanging out the underbody?

    • nik

      I didn’t even notice the underbody nonsense until now… that definitely doesn’t look normal lol

    • Matt

      I think the black paneling on the underbody is the cradle for the batteries of the Hybrid, and then you have the exhaust which has been routed underneath that – which looks quite bad.

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  • donald seymour

    Does anyone know why Toyota’s design of late been looking like a modern futuristic interpretation of the 90s’ Toyota. Now, ironically it does not looks modern.

  • nik

    This looks very very refined compared to the previous version. I’m glad they did away with the chunky plastic, it actually looks expensive too!

  • bd0007

    Looks like a deformed cross btwn a Subaru and Mazda.

    Let’s make the greenhouse/glass narrow as one gets the rear to give the false impression that this isn’t a minivan substitute.

  • Dude

    It looks more modern but also more like a minivan. That color is definitely not a good fit. And the infotainment/gauge area looks cheap.

  • StrangerGP

    Looks pretty decent, I like how it combines the effect of a low sporty roof with a muscular SUV body.

  • Dennis Scipio

    The front end does remind me of the new RAV4, though the overall package looks like an Evolution than a Revolution of the current Model, but I think the new Highlander will sell pretty well.

  • WalthamDan

    Well that ended up being a very disappointing reveal. Seems they went to a mixture of RAV4 and the ’14-16 version of the current one which had that same ugly front end design. Wish they had went more with the RAV4 Adventure styled front. The interior seems to have higher quality than our ’17 Ltd Plat model, but the dash also seems over styled. And other than the move to 20′ wheels from 19″, I don’t see much new content being added to the trim line.

  • ErnieB

    Just another ugly Japanese car..

  • Sybill Julian

    no, I thought they would remove the big grille

  • Rocket

    I’m not a fan. The grille could have been worse I suppose, but overall it’s a significant disappointment. Get your 2019’s while you can, folks.

    • ME

      The emblem and the wings surrounding it remind me of Subaru.
      Making the model more blocky seems to discredit any chance of a new 4Runner.

      • Rocket

        We might not get an all new 4Runner, but as long as the current model meets crash standards, I think they’ll keep it around and milk it for all the profits they can. Buyers in that particular segment almost seem to embrace how old it is. Tried and true so to speak.

  • dumblikeyou2

    Not a fan of Toyota’s blocky dashboard designs of late.

  • marioGTI

    Toyota makes great vehicles, but there is nothing to see here..

  • Ron

    Its ugly but that wont stop it from selling well. Americans cant help themselves.

  • danno

    Android Auto now on Toyota’s as of 2020

  • AMG44

    Finally the option of Android Auto in a Toyota. Wonder what took them so long to offer it.

  • TB

    Not impressed. Kind of ugly IMO and no doubt will be overpriced.

  • Nexus7

    So it has as much cargo room as a Tourx wagon, and probably drives like a boat. If you like Toyota designs, you’ll like this one; but to me the lines are wrong, there’s that weird rear door scoop that everyone seem to be using these day, but looks too big here, everything is just off.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    This is painfully boring.

  • Brian Regan

    Man, that thing is rough. The current Highlander isn’t particularly good looking either but it sells so I doubt this will have any trouble.

  • Joe E

    This thing comes standard with a CAMRY DENT!! The rear 3/4 angle looks like it has just been rear-ended. What a step backwards; the outgoing Highlander was the only Toyota I felt was anything close to good-looking.

    P.S. For some reason this thing also gives me strong Previa vibes.

  • getoffme

    Toyota will have no problem selling these.

  • jason wu

    Is it a joke that comes 16 days late? Telluride looks way better.

  • Super Rob

    Well, it’s reliable.

  • Paul

    The front end and the infotainment screen setup sucks.

  • Leo Liao

    The exhaust pipe at the bottom of the car is really ugly, why not hide it? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/461ef0f4c605eb399c8f0a483a4d387fb98aa4a19b5177ae48065df9e2a4e903.jpg

    • MonkeyRider

      I think that’s mock-up car, not production car.

  • Bash

    And how much is that platinum?

  • Day_Trader

    Hey Toyota idiots! How about updating 4Runner?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    • J Timothy

      Gawd no. they will destroy it

    • ErnieB

      Please don’t touch the only thing they have that looks ok..

  • Stealth333

    That is one awful interior!

  • Lucius

    It has fat hips…
    Or it’s aping the Supra. And if that’s the case, it ain’t doing either vehicle favors.

  • J Timothy

    its not too late Toyota. Get rid of the scar on the side of the vehicle and clean up the front end. Wow, maybe you should hire California designers like Kia did.

    • GT

      I suspect this is actually the work of Calty (Toyota’s California studio)

  • J Timothy

    Toyota didn’t learn their lesson with the new prius. Ugly followed by atrocious. And now this? the current highlander is a really nice looking suv. this thing is bad, very bad. Expect their stock to dip a bit unless they fix it.

  • J Timothy

    The dash is way too busy. Who is calling the shots at Toyota? very bad

  • SteersUright

    Highlander always looks like it should be a few inches higher and with bigger tires. Anyhow, this looks nice enough for what it is. The interior design seems a bit disjointed, lacking an elegant flow.

  • Maykel

    Telluride’s better but this will sell more.

    • Ben

      Not the same class

  • Six_Tymes


  • Yishay

    Styling disaster

  • dinero99

    look at that dash..LOL.. never liked Toyota design language..which is NONE..

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