The Highlander is about to get bigger.
The 2021 Toyota Highlander will disappoint buyers who prioritize cargo and passenger space, with other three-row midsize SUVs like the Chevrolet Traverse, Kia Telluride, and Hyundai Palisade offering more roomy interiors. In its defense, the Highlander boasts stellar fuel economy from the hybrid model, with over 35 mpg on the combined cycle. However, with the recent introduction of the Kia Sorento Hybrid, a slightly smaller three-row SUV, the Highlander has lost its claim as the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the class.
To add more appeal to the big SUV, it appears that Toyota is set to expand the Highlander lineup. A user on the GR 86 Forums found a recent trademark application from Toyota for the "Grand Highlander" name. The application was made in the United States and Canada, meaning this isn't just a foreign market model.
In fact, the Grand Highlander might be exclusively for the North American market, where size matters more than in other regions. Based on the name, we assume this will be a larger version of the Highlander with more trunk space and a roomier third row, both of which are disappointingly small on the standard model. Increasing the Highlander's size would better position it against rivals, though it could encroach on the larger Sequoia, which is in dire need of a replacement.
Toyota has made no official announcements for any of its upcoming truck-based SUV models, including the 4Runner, Land Cruiser, or Sequoia. This latest filing could indicate that Toyota won't replace the Tundra-based Sequoia, and will instead opt to sell the car-based Grand Highlander. There's also a chance that Toyota is trademarking the name with plans to use it on a concept model.
This wouldn't be the first time that Toyota trademark rumors have gone nowhere, like the TJ Cruiser moniker back in 2017. Lexus also has a slew of outstanding trademarks that we have yet to see arrive as production models. If we had to guess though, we'd say the Grand Highlander is legitimate.