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A blue 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is shown driving on a highway after visiting a Toyota dealer.

Battle of the SUV Giants: Toyota Highlander vs Grand Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is one of the few midsize SUV options that have managed to remain relevant in these changing automotive times. Now, instead of only having the Highlander, Toyota also has the new 2024 Grand Highlander. This new version brings with it a few differences or upgrades, as well as some heft. In many ways, the Grand Highlander appeals to a different audience—one that requires more of everything.

This larger version of the Highlander also includes more features and increased capabilities, but both will bring with them Toyota’s legendary reliability. Luckily, any Toyota dealer known to carry the Highlander will likely also carry the Grand Highlander, so you can make a face-to-face comparison for yourself if you think these models need the third degree.

A blue 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is shown parked on sand.

In This Match-Up, There Can Only Be One…

One of the biggest reasons people like the Toyota Highlander is because of its spirited performance. This ultra-popular vehicle has a real kick that provides a decently thrilling ride—but many now wonder how the regular Highlander compares to the brand-new version.

According to Toyota, the 2024 Grand Highlander comes standard with a 2.4L four-cylinder turbocharged engine with a maximum power output of 265 hp and a torque of 310 lb-ft; it’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and this powertrain begins at the base XLE trim of the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander. It is available in both front- and all-wheel drive configurations.

There are two hybrid engine options for the Grand Highlander; there’s the 2.5L Hybrid—which has weaker performance numbers (e.g. 245 hp), but its transmission is a sweet eCVT—and there’s the 2.4L i-FORCE MAX Turbo I-4 Hybrid on the Hybrid Max trim, which has a maximum power output of 362 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. These engines make the Grand Highlander an exciting vehicle for speed: the front-wheel drive version with the 2.4L Turbo gas engine accelerates from zero to sixty in about 7.5 seconds, while it takes the all-wheel drive 2.4L i-FORCE MAX Turbo Hybrid 7.8 seconds.

The original Toyota Highlander is no slouch concerning what’s under the hood. It comes standard with a 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine whose maximum power output is 265 hp, and its torque is 310 lb-ft. It, too, pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There’s also a Hybrid variant of the Highlander; its 2.5L four-cylinder engine makes a combined 243 hp, and it gets that same sweet eCVT. Regarding speed, the 2024 Toyota Highlander is a little faster than its larger version, accelerating from zero to sixty in about 7.2 seconds.

The 2024 Highlander is the better of the two for fuel economy. Drivers get a combined average of 25 MPG in front-wheel drive (or 24 MPG combined in all-wheel). The Hybrid version averages 36 MPG in front-wheel drive (or 35 MPG in all-wheel). The Grand Highlander, meanwhile, gets 24 MPG combined in front-wheel drive (or 23 MPG in all-wheel) with its standard engine, while the 2.5L Hybrid engine gets 36 MPG and 34 MPG, respectively; the 2.4L i-FORCE MAX Hybrid engine is only available in all-wheel drive and falls somewhat short of the middle-ground at 27 MPG combined. Of course, there are more fuel-efficient midsize SUVs on the market, but the Highlander is pretty impressive in this regard.

Regarding performance, these two timeless Toyotas are pretty similar, given how they use the same base gas and hybrid engines. The new Grand Highlander is only more powerful (about 40% more powerful) with the 2.4L i-FORCE MAX Turbo I-4 Hybrid, but both original and new versions will deliver a formidable ride. Additionally, both offer expert-level handling; however, those wanting slightly faster speeds will probably opt for the regular Highlander. The slightly slower speed of the Grand Highlander is due to its larger size and weight.

The black interior and dash of a 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is shown.

Interior Design

The inclusion of a stellar interior is beyond important when it comes to quality SUVs. Luckily, both the 2024 Grand Highlander and the original version have impeccable, spacious, and modern cabins. The Grand Highlander seats up to eight people if you opt for second-row bench seats; a preference for second-row captain’s chairs provides seating for seven. The 2024 Toyota Highlander offers the same seating arrangements.

In terms of overall space, the 2024 Grand Highlander is bigger. It provides up to 37.2 inches of headroom and 33.5 inches of legroom. However, the original Highlander offers up to 31.1 inches of headroom and 28.0 inches of legroom. These numbers are not drastically different, but it helps the Grand Highlander appeal to those who need extra space—like basketball players as opposed to fighter pilots.

Technology is one of the key differences between these two midsize Toyota SUVs. Overall, the Grand Highlander offers more of everything. For example, while the original Highlander has five USB ports throughout the cabin, the Grand Highlander has an impressive seven; it’s also important to note that only the Grand Highlander has USB ports on the third row. The infotainment touchscreen in the Grand Highlander is also bigger as it comes in at 12.3 inches; the original model has a standard 8.0-inch screen.

Another difference is that a wireless charging pad is standard on the Grand Highlander; this is only an add-on for the 2024 Highlander. Both SUVs have pretty great sound systems, but buyers can add a premium JBL system on the Grand. Additionally, the Grand Highlander offers gaming capabilities. Overall, the interior of the larger Highlander is better; not only does it include more technology, but the vehicle is also slightly more spacious.

Safety Ratings

Safety is one of the most important aspects of any new vehicle. Fortunately, both Toyota SUVs offer advanced driver assistance features like Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams. However, the Grand Highlander is a bit better in this regard because it employs the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite instead of TSS 2.5+.

Because of the updated system, the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander has safety features such as Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert as standard. These are options on the regular Highlander instead of being standard. Additionally, the Grand Highlander has Toyota’s Proactive Driving Assist; this system provides automated speeds based on traffic and road conditions.

The black interior of a 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is shown.

Superficial Differences

As has already been established, the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is a slightly bigger midsize SUV. Of course, this difference is easily noticed just by looking at the all-new vehicle. Regarding its dimensions, MotorTrend reports that the Grand Highlander is about 201.4 inches long, while the regular Highlander is 194.9 inches. The Grand Highlander is also wider as it is 78.3 inches across. The Highlander is 76 inches in this category. This newer version is also a couple of inches taller.

Regarding the overall exterior looks, the two vehicles are again pretty similar. Perhaps the main difference is that the 2024 Grand Highlander has a much more refined appearance. This difference is most apparent with their roofs, as the Grand Highlander has more of a straight design while the regular version has a bit of an oval shape. The Grand also has a more modern-looking headlight design. Regarding wheel sizes, the bigger SUV has options for 18- and 20-inch alloys. However, the original Highlander only offers 18-inch options.

Which Highlander Reigns Supreme?

Overall, the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is fairly similar to the version the world has loved since 2001. However, it earns its steeper starting price by adding more of pretty much everything. However, there is still much to appreciate about the original Highlander. The important thing is that both are quality vehicles with much to offer the SUV-buying public.