Stick Shift: 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum

2020 ushers in the fourth generation of the popular Toyota Highlander. Fully redesigned and better than ever. If you’re searching for a big SUV with a third row that doesn’t guzzle gas, your search may be over. 

First in the line-up of major changes is a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. This smaller displacement engine replaces last years V6 and is paired to a twin electric motor. Everything works together to provide that hybrid magic. Though down 60 horsepower from the V6 version, fuel economy is up 7-8 mpg with the 4-cylinder. Make sure you’re ok with the slower acceleration and engine noise that lacks any attitude or edge though. 

Exterior styling is fashionable and modern for a family friendly SUV. Large 20” alloy wheels and sharp LED headlights spice things up further. A long panoramic sunroof bathes the interior in natural light. Speaking of the interior, as good looking as the new Highlander is from the outside, it’s even better on the inside. 

A wide variety of high quality materials are used throughout the cabin. On seats, panels, doors and dash. Colors and textures mix and match in a visually compelling way. Creamy peanut butter, metallic, dark grey and black. Everything stirs together to create a cabin that looks and feels upscale. Seats are comfortable for long trips or short commutes. Up front, they’re also heated and ventilated. Always a welcome discovery with our hot summer days. The middle seats are heated as well. Front and middle row passengers will be treated to all the best, but be warned, the third row is awfully small. 

Photo via: Toyota

The Highlander rides smooth and feels well-built. It also gives the impression of being perfectly comfortable off-road. This is due to it’s ground clearance and all-wheel drive system. Available in all trims. With a combined mpg rating of 35, you can really go the distance in it too. Whether you are on or off the tarmac.

The new 2020 Toyota Highlander comes in a well-rounded, attractive package. It’s loaded up with plenty of standard safety and tech features. All of the driving aides work well and ease the burden of long road-trips with the whole crew in tow. It’s even sensibly priced compared to other big SUV’s and non-hybrid Highlander models. While the obvious value can’t be denied, vehicles like the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are putting more and more pressure on the big SUV market to deliver big value in order to stay competitive. With its fresh new design, the Toyota Highlander doesn’t fall short. 

Price as tested: $52,512.00

By: Brandon Randall

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