2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD assessment: Excessive-tech, low legroom

“The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a mean performer on a crowded stage.”

Nicely-integrated touchscreen

Snug experience

Lack of inside house

Low-quality inside supplies

Poorly tuned transmission

If it is advisable to transfer lots of people or stuff, a minivan is the proper device. But minivans are terminally uncool, which is why automobiles just like the 2020 Toyota Highlander exist.

With three rows of seats and rugged SUV seems, the Highlander is the proper selection for folks who wouldn’t be caught useless in a minivan. That’s a really massive section of the shopping for public, so along with outdated rivals just like the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, the redesigned 2020 Highlander faces newer competitors within the type of the Subaru Ascent, Volkswagen Atlas, and the Hyundai Palisade/Kia Telluride twins.

The 2020 Highlander was a base value of $35,720, however that solely buys a base LE mannequin with front-wheel drive. The value climbs rapidly with choices. Our take a look at automobile was a totally loaded Platinum mannequin with all the bells and whistles, plus all-wheel drive — priced at $50,663.

Design and inside

With its scowling entrance finish, the Highlander goals to convey truck-like toughness. Below the pores and skin, nevertheless, it’s based mostly on the identical Toyota New International Structure (TNGA) platform as odd automobiles just like the Camry and Corolla, in addition to the smaller RAV4. It is a fairly widespread technique within the automobile business, as most consumers need the look and excessive driving place of a truck, however not the poor highway manners.

By way of design, the Highlander’s inside is pretty unremarkable. Other than a floating housing for the infotainment touchscreen, the design is totally unoriginal. Whereas boring to take a look at, the inside was at the very least useful. Outward visibility was good, and small touches like a cellphone tray and well-placed USB ports made an enormous distinction. The Highlander comes customary with 4 USB ports and two 120-volt shops throughout the primary and second rows, and Qi wi-fi cellphone charging is on the market. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to’t get USB ports within the third row. The entrance seats (leather-based upholstered with heating and air flow in our Platinum take a look at automobile) have been very comfy, even after hours on the highway.

The Highlander falls quick the place it actually counts: Inside house.

It was more durable to excuse the standard of the inside supplies. The flimsy plastic trim and rubbery dashboard molding barely felt enough for a car on the Highlander’s $35,720 base value, not to mention one costing $15,000 extra. Many of the Highlander’s opponents have the identical subject (the Hyundai Palisade being a notable exception), but it surely appeared significantly dangerous within the Toyota.

The Highlander additionally falls quick the place it actually counts: Inside house. At 27.7 inches, third-row legroom is the worst within the section, and total house is so tight that even babies will possible discover it uncomfortable. Entrance-row legroom and headroom are additionally behind the pack. Cargo house is a bit beneath common, and effectively behind the Chevrolet Traverse and Volkswagen Atlas. As with all automobiles of this measurement, you’ll need to fold the third-row seats to get a good quantity of cargo room.

Tech, infotainment, and driver help

The 2020 Highlander comes customary with an Eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Amazon Alexa compatibility, Waze, and a built-in Wi-Fi sizzling spot. Platinum fashions like our take a look at automobile get a 12.Three-inch touchscreen. A head-up show is on the market as effectively.

Toyota bucked the pattern by going with a panorama, relatively than portrait, orientation, for the large display. It seems higher than the awkwardly built-in 10.1-inch portrait-oriented display within the Ford Explorer, with out sacrificing performance. The display is positioned inside simpler attain of each the driving force and entrance passenger, and a three-column cut up setup makes logical use of the huge swath of pixels. It’s too dangerous Toyota determined to populate that large display with plain, dated-looking graphics.

The Highlander comes customary with Toyota Security Sense 2.zero, which incorporates autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), adaptive cruise management, lane departure warning, Lane Tracing Help, automated excessive beams, and highway signal recognition. Non-compulsory options embody blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse autonomous emergency braking, and a 360-degree digital camera system.

A three-column cut up setup makes logical use of the display’s huge swath of pixels.

The complement of ordinary driver aids is fairly good for a car on this value vary, however efficiency was beneath common. Adaptive cruise management left an enormous hole to the car in entrance, permitting different automobiles to chop in abruptly. The system was additionally sluggish to react when the automobile in entrance accelerated, though this may occasionally have been partly because of the poorly tuned transmission.

Lane Tracing Help, which makes use of steering inputs to maintain the automobile centered in its lane, solely labored on arrow-straight stretches of highway. It couldn’t observe even the gentlest freeway curves, permitting the Highlander to float out of its lane as if it was being pushed by the inattentive human that tech like that is purported to outperform.

One factor Toyota did proper was the camera-system integration. An overhead view mechanically pops up on the infotainment display once you swap into reverse, and it may be activated on the push of a button at different instances. A easy setup like this makes parking loads simpler, however not each automaker appears to have figured that out.

Driving expertise

For the 2020 mannequin yr, Toyota presents two powertrain selections: Gasoline or hybrid. Toyota dropped the previous-generation Highlander’s four-cylinder base engine, so now the default selection is a Three.5-liter V6. It makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque, and is coupled to an eight-speed automated transmission.

Output is simply forward of the Hyundai Palisade/Kia Telluride twins, however the Ford Explorer can generate 300 hp and 310 lb-ft from a 2.Three-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent have much less horsepower, however extra torque. The V6 Highlander is rated to tow as much as 5,000 kilos, which is common for this section, though the Nissan Pathfinder overachieves with a 6,000-pound tow score.

The hybrid possibility pairs a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system, for a mixed output of 243 hp. As with different Toyota hybrid crossovers, all-wheel drive is achieved utilizing a second electrical motor for the rear axle, with no mechanical connection to the entrance wheels. The Ford Explorer is the one different car on this section to supply a hybrid powertrain.

The V6 engine was let down by a clunky transmission.

Our take a look at automobile had the V6 engine, which proved a lot highly effective for on a regular basis driving. It even sounded fairly good, regardless of not having the efficiency exhaust system used on the Toyota Avalon TRD sedan. Nevertheless, the engine was let down by a clunky transmission. The eight-speed automated shifted roughly, and was sluggish to react to requires extra energy, like Scotty if he had reported for responsibility on the Enterprise after taking a sleeping tablet.

The Highlander comes customary with front-wheel drive, however our take a look at automobile had the non-obligatory torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. Torque vectoring alters the distribution of energy between the wheels on every axle to enhance cornering. The system made a noticeable distinction, making the Highlander really feel much more agile than a car this measurement usually would.

Nevertheless, the Highlander is not any Supra. Torque vectoring apart, even the slightest trace of aggression in corners is met with the scolding squeal of tires. The Highlander is way happier on highways, the place it gives a cushty experience and a commanding view of the highway. That’s the case with most different automobiles on this section, though the Subaru Ascent and Honda Pilot present a bit extra pleasure on twisty roads.

Fuel mileage and security

Platinum fashions, together with our take a look at automobile, are rated at 24 mpg mixed (21 mpg metropolis, 29 mpg freeway) with front-wheel drive, and 23 mpg mixed (20 mpg metropolis, 27 mpg freeway) with all-wheel drive. These numbers are barely above common for this section. The Highlander Hybrid will get as much as 36 mpg mixed with front-wheel drive, significantly better than the Ford Explorer Hybrid’s most 28 mpg mixed.

The Highlander acquired a “High Security Decide” score from the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security (IIHS), lacking the very best “High Security Decide+” score resulting from poorly rated headlights on decrease trim ranges. The Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration (NHTSA) hasn’t rated the 2020 Highlander but.

Toyota presents a three-year, 36,000-mile, fundamental guarantee and five-year, 60,000-mile, powertrain guarantee, in addition to free scheduled upkeep for 2 years or 25,000 miles. The warranty-coverage interval is about common for a mainstream model, however the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride have 10-year, 100,000-mile, powertrain warranties.

It’s troublesome to foretell future reliability for a brand new car just like the 2020 Highlander, however Toyota has a superb total popularity for reliability. Previous generations of Highlander have confirmed fairly strong, which is why they’re a favourite of taxi and Uber drivers.

How DT would configure this automobile

If you’d like essentially the most tech in a 2020 Toyota Highlander, it is advisable to get the highest Platinum trim degree. It will get the most important 12.Three-inch touchscreen as customary gear, in addition to a head-up show, digital rearview mirror, and 360-degree digital camera system. It additionally will get niceties like a panoramic moonroof, upgraded leather-based upholstery, and 20-inch wheels.

This take a look at drive didn’t embody the hybrid mannequin, however in the event you’re purchasing for a Highlander, it may be price a glance. The hybrid carries a roughly $2,000 premium over the V6 Highlander, but it surely will get considerably higher fuel mileage, and eliminates the rough-shifting transmission utilized in V6 fashions. The hybrid possibility can also be one of many few issues that basically units the Highlander aside from the competitors.

Our take

The Highlander has been the go-to possibility for a lot of households for the reason that first era launched in 2001, however the fourth-generation 2020 mannequin is resting on its laurels. As earlier than, consumers can count on reliability and a modicum of practicality, however the competitors presents extra.

For a car like this, inside house and performance are key. The Highlander’s third row is just too cramped for on a regular basis use, and house within the different two rows is behind a lot of the pack. The inside has some good touches, like a well-integrated touchscreen, however supplies are beneath common. Nothing in regards to the inside design or packaging is exceptional or progressive.

It’s the identical story with the driving expertise. The Highlander is completely superb to drive, but it surely doesn’t stand out in any manner. Consumers possible aren’t anticipating sports activities automobile efficiency, however the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent received’t put the driving force to sleep, at the very least. The Hyundai Palisade presents better total refinement, whereas the Ford Explorer boasts some off-road functionality.

Then there’s the sliding-door elephant within the room. No matter whether or not you suppose the Highlander is cooler than a minivan, it’s undeniably much less sensible. Toyota’s personal Sienna can seat the identical variety of folks, with better total passenger and cargo quantity. A minivan’s sliding doorways and decrease experience top additionally make loading and unloading folks and stuff simpler. The Sienna even will get a typical 33-mpg hybrid powertrain for the 2021 mannequin yr.

Do you have to get one?

No. The Highlander is a reliable household hauler, however with so many different selections, why accept merely competent?

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