Changes are low risk, high reward for all

Toyota’s refresh of the Highlander was low risk, but potentially very rewarding. Although the model is only a few years into its generation, the automaker has turned a technological page since its debut. Revisions reflect progress.

All gasoline models of the 2023 Toyota Highlander now come with a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. That’s two horsepower less, but a 17 percent increase in torque over the outgoing 3.5-liter V6 model.

Torque is what helps drivers get off the line faster or move to pass a vehicle. That’s the grunt needed to climb a hill with a trailer attached. The new engine allows Highland to tow up to 5,000 pounds. Each model includes Trailer Sway Control technology.

Toyota has refreshed the look and technology of the 2023 Highlander SUV.
Toyota USA Inc. Engine Sales

The new four-cylinder engine produces 50% less NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions. NOx are a family of “highly reactive toxic gases” according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Additionally, the new engine is more fuel efficient, gaining an EPA-estimated total of 25 miles per gallon (mpg).

The Highlander and Highlander Hybrid both get larger infotainment touchscreens for the 2023 model year. Limited and Platinum trims now come standard with two 12.3-inch screens (Highlander XLE and XSE the have as an option), one in the middle of the dashboard and one in front of the driver. Previously, the driver information display was a lower-resolution 7-inch TFT display.

Lower grades of the Highlander see their standard 4.2-inch information display replaced with a 7-inch gauge cluster.

Rear side of the 2023 Toyota Highlander
The Highlander continues to be a sculpted, family-friendly three-row SUV.
Toyota USA Inc. Engine Sales

A more accessible wireless charging area and power-folding exterior mirrors round out the tech additions for 2023.

2023 Toyota Highlander Review

The new Highlander goes a long way to correcting the perceived wrongs that buyers might find if they purchased the model with its competitors. Toyota made these changes without compromising the goodness that made the Highlander so desirable in the first place.

Highlander’s new gasoline engine delivers the right amount of power at the right time. Its response is delivered with urgency compared to the smooth, strong pull of the previous V6. Still, there’s none of the lift-off feeling that some turbos can deliver.

Using the new, larger driver infotainment and information displays is as easy in the Highlander as it is in the new Tundra or the Lexus NX and RX. Toyota didn’t make a home run here, but the new operating system is much better than the previous one, from graphics to responsiveness.

Interior of the 2023 Toyota Highlander
Toyota added 12.3-inch screens to select high-end Highlanders for the 2023 model year.
Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.

The 2023 Toyota Highlander starts at $36,420 and the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a starting MSRP of $40,220. Those numbers, along with the revised features, keep it in line with its closest competitors like the Kia Sorento and Subaru Ascent.

The Highlander was already better than the Honda Pilot, but recent changes to the Chevrolet Traverse make the Chevy tough competition for Toyota.

The Highlander goes on sale at dealerships today.


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