By Steve & Tamami Laser
It’s nearly 20 years since Toyota introduced the first Highlander, a midsize crossover that’s been highly successful in the market. (We owned one of the first models and kept it in our family for a long time.) Now, Toyota has unveiled an all-new fourth-generation Highlander at the New York Auto Show.
The new Highlander rides on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K) platform. With its stiffer unibody structure and extensive use of high-strength steel, Toyota says the benefits include enhanced driving refinement with a retuned suspension plus a smoother and quieter ride.
All-new styling gives Highlander a more athletic appearance. Up front is a bold grille dressed with black and silver trim on L, LE and XLE models. Moving up to the Limited and Platinum gains chrome trim, premium lighting, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
All Highlanders are fitted with Toyota Safety Sense™ (TSS) 2.0. Features include Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beam, plus new Lane Tracing Assist and Road Sign Assist.
Under the hood, powertrain choices include a 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. of torque, teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. A new-generation Toyota Hybrid System features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a combined 240 hp. Toyota says the front-drive Hybrid targets EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 34 mpg.
Six-cylinder models offer two different all-wheel-drive systems. The base system can transfer up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels. Limited and Platinum gain sophisticated Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD with Drive Mode Select. Hybrids have a unique AWD system with a separate rear-mounted motor that drives the rear wheels.
Redesigned cabins deliver more luxury and high-tech features, along with flexible seating configurations for seven or eight passengers. Toyota says the Platinum model is the most luxurious Highlander ever offered with seats trimmed with embossed, perforated leather.
A new 12.3-inch multimedia display with dynamic navigation, standard on Platinum, includes JBL® Premium Audio with 11 speakers. All Highlanders have Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM®, Wi-Fi connectivity through AT&T, and Toyota Safety Connect.
Highlander offers plenty of cargo space for families on the go. With the second and third-row seats folded down, there’s 73.3 cu. ft. of space.
Launch timing for the 2020 Highlander gas models in the U.S. is planned to start in December 2019, while Hybrid models are expected to follow in February 2020.
Note: Preliminary features, specifications, and launch timing for U.S. market models is subject to change without notice
News source and photos courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Additional photo courtesy Newspress
Story (commentary) © 2019 CarNichiWa.com