The Toyota Highlander has been at the heart of the Japanese automaker’s product line-up for two decades.
The popularity of the Highlander, like the Camry from which it is descended, rests in part on the company’s well-deserved reputation for quality, reliability and durability, which helps set it apart from other family-friendly midsized utility vehicles offered by competitors rather than its intrinsic appeal.
Overview: As the popularity of utility vehicles continues to grow among car buyers, the 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum clearly was packaged to stretch the vehicle’s overall appeal beyond the Toyota fan base. It comes with a full range of technology as well as driving dynamics plus comfort and convenience features that amplify its character in what has become one of the most coveted and fiercely competitive segments in the car business today.
(Toyota rolls out new and improved Highlander for 2020.)
Exterior: The Highlander comes with the basic utility vehicle shape. But it is nicely done with the distinctive front fascia with the easily recognizable Toyota grille and insignia.
But the 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum also comes with LED headlights and taillights that fit nicely into the overall exterior design, which overall is well done and results in a handsome silhouette.
It results in a handsome presence standing at the curb or tucked up in a driveway. The 2020 Toyota Highland Platinum also comes with features such as 20-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors with puddle lights and a rear liftgate that can be raised or lowered with the touch of a key fob.
Interior: Stepping into the ute, the driver and passengers find a perhaps unexpected level of comfort and luxury in utility vehicle at the heart of the midsized market.
…The seats and dashboard are covered with leather and that leather is complemented by other first-rate materials that give the cabin a luxurious feel throughout the cabin…
The Platinum version also comes with third row of seats. The seats are relatively cramped but still large enough to carry children, which is necessity in a family-oriented vehicle such as the Highlander.
The instrument cluster also is well lit and quite easy to read even in bright sunlight and Platinum comes with a heads-up display that contains the vehicle’s speed while it is in motion. The overall
view from the driver’s seat is very good and the big panoramic sunroof brings in sunshine or extra light on a rainy afternoon.
Powertrain: The 2020 Toyota Highlander is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission and AWD and the power train is capable of producing 293 horsepower and 263 foot pounds of torque, which means even though it tips the scale at more an 4,400 pounds, it has more than enough power for everyday driving on errands or commuting.
The fuel economy at 23 miles per gallon combined, which includes 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway isn’t all that impressive but the I found the vehicle has a long range and the hybrid version of the Highlander is certainly an option for long distance commuter concerned about fuel costs.
Safety and Technology: One of the reasons arranged the Platinum package was to load it with technology and safety equipment and the 2020 Highlander Platinum comes with all kinds of features from a birds-eye camera system to cruise control and lane-keeping assistance as well as blind-spot detection and automatic braking if a collision is imminent.
The Highlander also is equipped with rain-sensing windshield wipers and eight airbags that deploy in frontal and side-impact collisions.
It also features a 12.3-inch screen in the center console, a dynamic navigation system and an JBL entertainment system equipped with 11 speakers as well as Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Drive impressions: I’ve tested other versions of the Toyota Highlander in the past and I am sure the competition from every direction has forced Toyota to step up its game.
I found the 2020 Toyota Highlander came impressive driving dynamics. The suspension handled the varied road surfaces all too common in Southern Michigan without a hitch while the kind of smooth, even ride that I suspect most buyers studying this type of vehicle are seek.
The steering was first rate and even offered some feedback and the brakes acted instantly. I also found the 2020 Toyota Highlander had more than enough power for passing on the freeways and reacted quickly when more power as needed.
The shifts, even the downshifts, were practically invisible by the 8-speed transmission, which seemed nicely calibrated or programmed to react to varied road conditions. All and all this was a very nice vehicle to drive.
(A Week With: 2020 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro.)
Wrap Up: The 2020 Toyota Highlander’s combination of technology, comfort and performance make it good bet for families where one of the drivers might have a long commute or winds up spending a significant portion of the day in the vehicle. It also is good for carrying children and solid vehicles for long road trips where the extra safety equipment offers extra protection.
Pricewise, however, this version of the Highlander pushes well into territory once considered the province of luxury brands such as say Lexus. The sticker price on the version of the 2020 Toyota Highlander I drove was $51,640, which included the $1,120 destination charge.