The popular midsize SUV is better than ever before.
Toyota has refreshed its Highlander SUV for the 2023 model year and it arrives with better tech, more features, and, importantly, a brand new engine under the hood. Once powered by a 3.5-liter V6, gas-powered derivatives now gain motivation from a smaller, turbocharged engine. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor is not only less harmful to the environment but brings with it a 17% torque increase.
With 265 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque, it outmuscles the V6's anemic 263 lb-ft but is, unfortunately, down on horsepower. This increase hasn't come at the expense of fuel economy though; Toyota claims gas mileage remains unchanged, at an estimated 24 mpg on the combined cycle.
The turbocharged Highlander is still capable of towing plenty, matching the outgoing V6's 5,000-pound capacity. The new engine can be paired with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive on L, LE, and XLE models, while plusher variants (XSE, Limited, and Platinum) receive dynamic torque-vectoring AWD.
Inside, the attractive SUV has also seen its standard spec rejigged. For 2023, Limited and Platinum trim levels gain two 12.3-inch Multi-Information Display screens. The digital instrument cluster replaces the outdated seven-inch TFT instrument cluster and provides drivers with four distinctive modes with different visuals: Casual, Smart, Tough, and Sporty. The 12.3-inch item is also standard on the Hybrid Bronze Edition and is available, optionally, for the XLE and XSE grades. On these, it replaces a standard seven-inch TFT screen for the instrument binnacle. The base L and LE trim levels also receive this as standard for 2023, replacing the basic 4.2-inch version. Further convenience is added by standard power-folding exterior mirrors for the Limited and Platinum.
The 2023 Highlander now receives wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the Toyota Audio Multimedia system features Bluetooth phone connectivity and an available Wi-Fi Connect subscription.
Lastly, the XLE and XSE grades receive a hands-free power liftgate.
Elsewhere, the repositioned wireless charging feature is now located in a handier position. Previously in the center console box, it can now be found on the instrument panel shelf. The Harvest Beige and Glazed Caramel interior colors are now accentuated by black accents, replacing Noble Brown.
Exterior styling remains unchanged, but the automaker has added a new hue, Cypress, to the color palette. Additionally, the more athletic-looking XSE receives 20-inch black-painted wheels to complement its sportier persona. Available as a seven or eight-seater, the Highlander excels at ferrying the family about. As such, it's packed full of safety features.
The 2023 model ships standard with eight airbags, brake assist, and Smart Stop Technology, aside from other features from Toyota's Star Safety System suite. Hybrid models build on this with the inclusion of Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), which combines safety systems to maintain stability on slippery roads. The updated Highlander should arrive at dealerships before the final quarter of 2022 with pricing to be announced closer to the time.