Car Reviews

All-new 2020 Toyota Highlander: Family-friendly and fuel-efficient

Highlander features an upgraded interior with a fresh new look.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander. Toyota

The Toyota Highlander debuted back in 2001 and this year enters its fourth generation. For 2020, Highlander shows off a new design, new features, and a choice of fuel-efficient gas or hybrid powertrains. The popularity of three-row SUVs with today’s families has new models being introduced at a steady pace. Despite this increasing competition, the Highlander has been the best-selling retail model in the segment since 2016.

Power for the Highlander comes from a choice of two powertrains. The first option is a 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.


The second powertrain option is found in the Highlander Hybrid. The hybrid has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors for 243 total system horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. It is also available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and comes in with a slightly lower towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

Regardless of which powertrain you choose, the 2020 Toyota Highlander is a fuel-efficient choice that helps make long family road trips easier on your wallet. Models equipped with the gas engine get Toyota-estimated fuel economy of up to 21 miles per gallon in the city, 20 on the highway, and 24 combined with front-wheel drive or 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 on the highway, and 23 combined with all-wheel drive.

Those with lots of long-distance driving in the future will want to consider the Highlander Hybrid, which gets best-in-class hybrid fuel economy. It achieves a Toyota-estimated 36 miles per gallon in the city, 35 on the highway, and 36 combined with front wheel drive. Depending on the trim you choose, all-wheel drive models see a drop of no more than one mile per gallon in select driving conditions.

The Highlander offers a comfortable and well-equipped interior with amenities designed to appeal to busy families. Standard features include three-zone automatic climate control, eight cupholders and four bottle holders, eight-way power driver’s seat, and room for eight-passengers. Top trims see the addition of leather seating surfaces, heated and ventilated front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, and room for seven passengers with standard second-row captain’s chairs.


It also has plenty of room for cargo in addition to good towing capability. There’s 16.0 cubic feet behind the third row, 48.4 cubic feet behind the second row, and 84.3 cubic feet behind the first row, making it more than capable of handling the family’s cargo.

Infotainment includes an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and four USB ports. Optional or standard on higher trims are navigation, a 12-speaker JBL audio system, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen.

Every 2020 Toyota Highlander comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This suite of safety features includes pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, road sign assist, and cyclist detection. Additional available features include blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and front and rear parking assist with automated braking.

There’s a drive mode selector that tailors the drive experience to your preferences with a choice of Eco, Normal, or Sport. There’s also a  Snow mode for gas models and EV mode for the hybrid. All-wheel drive models see the addition of Multi-Terrain Select which further refines vehicle systems with a choice of Mud/Sand, Rock/Dirt, or Normal.


The Highlander lineup includes a range of five gas trims and four hybrid models. Pricing for the gas-powered Highlander ranges from $34,600 to $46,850 with front-wheel drive or $36,200 to $48,800 with all-wheel drive. The Highlander hybrid, which eliminates the base trim from the lineup, is priced from $38,200 to $48,250 with front-wheel drive or $39,800 to $50,200 with all-wheel drive.

Look for the 2020 Toyota Highlander with the gas powertrain at your local dealership later this month followed by hybrid models in February.


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