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A green 2023 Toyota Highlander is shown driving after visiting a Toyota dealer.

What Draws Drivers to the Toyota Highlander?

In today’s automotive landscape, the SUV seems to be the star of the show. Maybe it’s due to the versatility or the convenience factor. Or maybe, the SUV just looks cooler than most other body styles. It took over the segment that used to belong to minivans; then, it moved on to dominating sedans. Even the luxury brands like Bentley, Lamborghini, and Ferrari have released an SUV. As technology gets increasingly better and fuel efficiency improves on larger vehicles, more and more drivers switch over to the almighty Sport Utility Vehicle. If you’re among the already converted or giving it some consideration, the Toyota Highlander could be the perfect pairing for your new-and-improved lifestyle.

If you’re not already acquainted with the Toyota Highlander, you may be surprised to learn that this SUV has a lot to offer. Aside from the impeccable reputation of being a Toyota, the Highlander has many attributes that make it a perfect family vehicle. It’s spacious, safe, and jam-packed with features that make your commute more comfortable and convenient. The available powertrains offer a smooth ride quality and pristine handling. Let’s take a closer look at this standout full-size SUV from the Toyota lineup and why it might have you visiting your local Toyota dealer to experience it for yourself.

Some of the Many Reasons People Love Toyota

One of the best qualities of the Toyota Highlander happens to be the fact that it’s a Toyota. The Toyota brand carries a reputation that most automakers aspire to achieve. It’s a respected manufacturer, well-known for its distinct ability to design vehicles that last well beyond a typical vehicle lifespan. They are built with sustainability and reliability at the core of their designs. Toyota exteriors are always classic and timeless, with subtle style and an influx of the most cutting-edge tech available. With longevity in mind, Toyota engineers always use the best available parts to ensure their customers enjoy the dependability that’s inherently promised when they choose the trusted Toyota brand.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. For Toyota, that “pudding” is a long list of statistics that support the reputation Toyota has for reliability. It’s not just a rumor; they repeatedly earn awards from top automotive publications and independent reviewers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Highlander Top Safety Pick+ for 2022. To add to the safety accolades, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration awarded the Highlander a 5-star Overall Safety Rating. Finally, Toyota earned the Best Resale Value Brand for 2022 from Kelley Blue Book.

The Evolution of the Highlander

Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, is partially responsible for the inspiration behind the Toyota Highlander. Seeing the spectacular sales of the Lexus RX 300, Toyota decided to use the same platform and create the Highlander as the more-affordable spin-off. The first Highlander rolled off the assembly line in 2001 and debuted with desirable features, a roomy interior, and a powerful engine. The first several years featured slightly different variations of a V6 engine, a third row that folded completely down, and a roof rack.

As the years went on and sales of the Highlander proved to be a great addition to the Toyota lineup, improvements were made that added more airbags, more safety features, restyled interiors and exteriors, and a bigger third row. In 2008, the second generation of the Highlander arrived with more space than ever. That year, the Highlander was 3.8 inches longer, 3.3 inches wider, and 2.8 inches of added ground clearance paved the way for the Highlander to include some off-roading features.

The following generation, lasting from 2014 to 2019, ushered in a Highlander with better powertrain options. You could choose from an efficient four-cylinder or opt for the refreshed V6 configuration that produces 295 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque. Toyota also upgraded the suspension to better handle different terrains, and the adjustments to the dimensions increased the passenger capacity from seven to eight and delivered an even quieter cabin than previous iterations.

This Year’s Model Offers an Array of Must-Have Features

Today, we’re in the fourth generation of the Toyota Highlander. While the SUV continues to be a go-to for families, Toyota wants to draw in a younger driver demographic, too. The latest models offer more off-roading features than ever, expanding the target market to drivers who love adventure. While the spacious interior has typically been geared towards families, the modernized Highlander has enticing features that invite new customers to take a look. The 2023 Highlander delivers on performance, technology, and comfort. Whether you’ve driven a Highlander before or are new to the SUV, the newest model is impressive in every department.

The 2023 Highlander comes in a number of trim levels that include gas-powered and hybrid options. From the base L trim to the highest level Hybrid Platinum, there is a trim to match a variety of lifestyles and budgets. If your criteria center around performance, you’ll be pleased by the available Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive that delivers sharp responsiveness and directs power to the rear axle for more stability when you need it.

The Highlander XSE trim features sport-tuned suspension, higher-rate springs, and a rear stabilizer bar. The standard engine is an efficient 2.4L four-cylinder that can be paired with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. It delivers 265 hp and an EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 25 MPG. As for the hybrid options, those Highlander models feature a 2.5L hybrid engine with two electric motors that produce a total of 243 hp with an EPA-estimated 36 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. To top it off, the 2023 Highlander can tow up to 5,000 lbs.

The interior specifications throughout the different trim levels offer plenty of choices. For example, if you don’t need the eight-passenger capacity, you can opt for a trim with captain’s chairs in the second row instead of a bench, reducing the capacity to seven but giving more space to those occupying the back two rows. There’s plenty of cargo space for your sporting equipment, luggage, groceries, and whatever else you need to transport, with up to 84.3 cu.ft. of space available with the seats folded down.

There are also a generous amount of small cubbies and space in the center console for your smaller personal belongings. Choose from two infotainment center options; the base 8.0-inch that comes standard on many trims or the larger 12.3-inch display that also comes with a secondary 12.3-inch gauge cluster. A premium 11-speaker JBL audio system is available to enjoy your favorite music, podcasts, and audiobooks and pairs easily with voice navigation. Toyota hooks you up with an available 4G LTE WiFi hotspot so you can stay connected, even on the go. There’s also the available wireless charging pad option to keep all your devices powered for the day ahead. There are also plenty of upscale extras available such as heated and ventilated seats, a panoramic moonroof, and much more.

The tan and gray interior and dash of a 2023 Toyota HIghlander is shown.

Is the Highlander for You?

The Toyota Highlander has evolved to be a dynamic and fully-integrated midsize SUV. It offers a host of highly-sought after features like hybrid powertrains that are exciting yet efficient. It comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, a generous safety and driver assistance feature suite, and its evolution in size and off-roading capability makes it an ideal companion for any adventure.

While it may have started as a family-oriented vehicle because of its sheer size and available seating, it has morphed into a vehicle that can complement the lifestyle of just about anyone. Who wouldn’t want the reliability of a Toyota, paired with fun features and an affordable price tag? If you haven’t pictured yourself behind the wheel of a Highlander, there’s never been a better time to check one out and make it a reality.