There are quite a few things new things to talk about with the all-new 2017 Toyota Highlander.
The three-row SUV will roll into dealers this month with updated looks, more standard equipment and a new sportier SE trim. A new powertrain is also good for more juice. Plus, it’s the first Toyota in North America to offer available stop-start technology.
The gas models start from roughly $38,000 and take to you above $48,000 for the top-of-the-line Limited Platinum AWD. The Hybrid starts just over $36,000, not including handling and destination charges.
Grille Gets Major Update
The first thing you notice is all the new action in the grille area. It definitely takes cues from Lexus’s new bolder grille. It’s bigger and wider from the third-generation model. It’s also painted in a silver finish. (The Limited and Platinum grades come with a painted chrome finish.)
Toyota also made the taillights sleeker and they also now come with standard LEDs. The Limited and Platinum models also chrome up the rear bumper.
The Highlander is a three-row SUV. Plus, the Limited and Limited Platinum models benefit from a new bench-style middle row seat, for eight-passenger seating.
The top-of-the-line Limited Platinum gets all the love with a new brown leather interior.
3.5-liter V6 + 8-Speed = Powertrain
Now for the powertrain.
Most of the Highlander’s gas lineup features a new 3.5-liter D-4S Injection V6 under the hood. It pushes output to 295-horses and 263 pound-feet of torque, up 25-hp and 15 in the torque department. (A 4-cylinder comes in the base trim.)
The engine is mated to a new Direct Shift eight-speed transmission. The eight ratios, compared to six in the 2016 model, give the Highlander faster acceleration than before.
Stop and Start
This is big news, too. The SUV will be the first Toyota vehicle in North America to feature available Start/Stop technology. It’s available in all the V6 models except the LE.
Start/Stop shuts the engine off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop and restarts when the driver’s foot lifts from the brake pedal. The tech, already in a bunch of other lineups, reduces emissions, help reduce fuel consumption, and makes the cabin quieter when the vehicle is stopped.
By the way, on the fuel economy front all-wheel drive models improves two to three miles to an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway.
New SE Sport Trim
There’s a new trim in 2017 as well, the sportier SE model. You can tell it’s an SE with its special dark paint job to the front grille, headlamp housings and roof rails. Unique 19-inch wheels keep it rolling
The front and rear suspension are specially tuned for tightened, sportier, handling.
Inside the cabin you get unique black leather-trimmed seats with silver stitching and pattern inserts, plus matching dark dash and door accents. The SE comes as a V6-powered model in FWD or AWD.
The new Highlander comes with five USB Ports, a big bump up from the previous one. All models get a standard back-up camera. On the XLE grade and above, the Highlander receives a standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Bump up to the Limited Platinum and you’ll get standard-issue Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan.
Toyota Safety Sense features will come standard across the lineup.
The 2017 Highlander Hybrid is one of eight hybrids in Toyota’s lineup. It’s available in LE, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum grades.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive system pairs the new Direct-Injection 3.5-liter V6 with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator good for 306-horses. The Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient Highlander too, with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city/28 mpg highway/29 mpg combined fuel economy rating.
All Highlander Hybrid models come equipped with Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels, this AWD-i system employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.
XLE comes with a 4.2-inch color display
Photo Credit: Toyota