2020 Toyota Highlander

#11
in Suvs
2020 MODEL
$34,600
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2020 Toyota Highlander Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide

Updated on: January 8, 2020

Aditya Suresh's image

Aditya Suresh Automotive Journalist


The Highlander sits on the new Global Platform, which is stiffer, lighter and bigger that is going to be used through all of Toyota’s future vehicles. The 2020 Toyota Highlander has some big shoes to fill as the previous-gen version of the Highlander, despite its age and increased competition is still the second-best midsize selling SUV in the United States of A.

See detailed review »

Pros

Torque-vectoring rear differential.

Blindspot monitor 

Rear cross-traffic Alert

Cabin in the front area is quite intuitive

Can tow up to 5000 pounds

Easy maneuverability

Cons

Third Row is cramped and is for seating kids at best

The busy interior design is eating up the storage space on the inside

No Ventilated second-row seats

The electrically assisted steering wheel is a bit slow to respond to inputs

Lackluster stopping distance 

What's New?

Aggressive front end with a lot of faux bends going on.

Heated mirrors

ABS and driveline Traction control

Torque vectoring system

SofTex leatherette seat trim 


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$32425

bodystyle

4dr SUV

passenger capacity

7

drivetrain

FWD

engine type

horsepower

295 hp

torque

263 lbs.-ft.

transmission

8 speed automatic

chassis

frame type

Ladder Frame

dimensions

wheelbase

112.2 in.

length

194.9 in.

width

75.8 in.

height

68.1 in.

capacity

passenger volume

142.2 cu ft.

cargo volume

73.3 cu ft.

performance

zero to 60 mph

9.9 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

55/54/53 mpg


Pictures & Videos

Exterior
Interior
Videos
 2020 Toyota Highlander Exterior video
 2020 Toyota Highlander Review video
 2020 Toyota Highlander Interior video

Ratings

Features

7.5

Interior

7.5

7.6

OVERALL RATING

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2020 Toyota Highlander L

L

power
295 hp@6600 rpm
fuel
Regular Unleaded
mpg
23 combined

$34,600


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
L 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 8A) Starting at $34,600 MSRP (20/23/27) 295 hp@6600 rpm, 3.5L, V-6, Regular Unleaded
8 speed automatic front wheel drive 7

Expert Review

7.6

Overall Rating


It is on the verge to draw Generation X and Millennial families walk straight into showrooms to buy the fully redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander. The 2020 Highlander is available in L, LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum models, many of which also come in Hybrid. The interior isn’t feature-rich, but then the Highlander’s forte is carrying around people and it does a damn well good job in this field.

2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Front View
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Front View
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Rear View
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Rear View

7.5/10
Features

 
 
 

7.5/10
Interior

 
 
 
 
 

2020 Toyota Highlander Features

7.5/10

The Highlander is offered in five trims L, LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum. The L is the standard offering that would be available in the market. LE is a slightly higher version with standard upgraded quality.

Trims

L

LE

XLE

Limited

Platinum

MSRP

(AWD)

$36,200

$38,400

$41,200

$45,600

$48,800

MSRP

(FWD)

$34,600

$36,800

$39,600

$43,650

$46,850

Features

Tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio

Blindspot Warning indicators

Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal

LED projector headlights with LED-strip daytime running lights

Rain-sensing washer-linked variable intermittent windshield wipers

 

DRCC_Dynamic Radar cruise control

Engine immobilizer Alarm

Tire pressure monitor systems

Power tilt moonroof with sunshade. 

Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging 

 

Integrated backup camera with projected path

Integrated backup camera with projected path

Downhill assist control

Includes 11 subwoofer speakers

Heated second row

 

Smart Key System with lock, unlock and panic functions. 

ECO Driving Indicator

Multi-terrain select with switches

Dynamic torque vectoring AWD.

Bird’s eye View Camera with Dynamic gridlines.

 

Automatic high beams

Wi-Fi Connect with up to 2GB within 3-month trial.

8-inch infotainment screen

12.3 Inch infotainment screen

Digital Rear-view mirror with HomeLink Universal Transceiver

 

Color-keyed heated power outside mirrors 

Smart Stop Technology(SST)

Remote keyless entry system with liftgate functions

JBL powered 11 speakers including subwoofer and amplifier.

Rear bumper scuff Plate

Which trim should you go for?

Regardless of which trim or powertrain you choose, the 2020 Toyota Highlander is a fuel-efficient choice that is definitely lighter on your wallet, while going on long road trips.

We would recommend the value-packed XLE, wherein you get plenty of good features for only a bit more money. The XLE begins at $40,720.

2020 Toyota Highlander Engine and Performance

The only Achilles heel of the previous Generation Highlander was the naturally aspirated inline-four. The fourth-generation Highlander has more than enough power for your daily driving needs with smooth shifts from the transmission. In addition to the V6 model, a hybrid powertrain is also available. Both of them offer a varied arsenal of driver assists that enhance the performance.

Engine and Transmission

With a higher price tag comes a greater thirst for power and hence the weak inline-four on the previous model is replaced with a rather powerful standard V6 engine, specifically a 3.5-liter V6 making 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque that sends power to all the wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 3.5-Liter V6 has enough grunt to get this three-row crossover going.

2020 Toyota Highlander Engine Bay
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Has a 3.5 L V6 Engine

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

MSRP

$38,400

$33,690

$35,495

$36,675

Engine

3.5 L V6

3.8 L V6

3.6 L V6

3.0 L EcoBoost V6

Transmission

Direct Shift 8-speed Automatic

8-speed Automatic

8-speed shiftable automatic

10-speed automatic with select shift capability

Horsepower

295 hp@6600 rpm

291 hp@ 6000 rpm

276 hp@ 6200 rpm

350 hp@5500 rpm

Torque

263 hp@ 4700 rpm

262 ft-lbs @ 5200 rpm

266 ft-lbs @ 2750 rpm

378 ft-lbs @ 3500 rpm

Despite having the smallest engine, the 2020 Ford Explorer does an amazing job in generating so much power which is commendable on Ford’s part. The Highlander comes a close second in terms of power, but is it worth the hefty price tag? A thought to ponder upon.

How Quick is Toyota Highlander from0-60?

Unfortunately, as the acceleration times for the 2020 Highlander models are not available yet, it’s 2.5L inline-four engine used to reach 60mph in 7.2 seconds. But we have no doubt that the 2020 version of the Highlander will be quicker, thanks to its bigger engine producing more horses.

2020 Toyota Highlander Front View
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV 0-60 MPH in Just 7.2* sec

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagon Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

0-60 MPH

7.2*

7.1

7.9

6.2

Quarter mile

15.5*

15.4

16.0

14.9

Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15k mi/yr)

6.4

7.0

7.6

7.4

*- 2019 times have been taken as the 2020 version times are not available as of yet.

With the 2020 acceleration times for the Highlander not out yet, The Ford explorer holds the pole position and that too beating the next best KIA Telluride by a wide margin. 

How well does the Highlander handle?

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is sturdy, has a good life and can conquer any terrain. It is a very potent package for people wanting to make the best out of the vehicle they own. The ride is soft and luxurious, and for a fact, as it can seat 7 comfortably, the handling is especially good, although not the best. The steering isn’t the nimblest unit out there. Moreover, the handling characteristics make the Highlander feel more comfortable and slightly maneuverable around corners which is a notable improvement from the last model. The Highlander tailors the drive experience to your preference with a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport, snow. All-wheel-drive models see the addition of multi-terrain select which further refines vehicle systems with a choice of Mud, Sand, rock, Dirt or Normal. With a turning radius of 38.4 ft, taking U-Turns would require some preparation. It also contributes its better handling to it being fairly light.

2020 Toyota Highlander Rear View
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Rear View

What about the Braking Performance of the Toyota Highlander?

The L, LE and XLE version comes with shorter 18-inch wheels, whereas the Limited and the Platinum versions come equipped with the larger 20-inch wheels. But then if you opt for the Highlander Hybrid’s regenerative braking system, it’s easy to bring the SUV to a clean, smooth stop.

2020 Toyota Highlander Brakes
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Front Brake is 13.3 in.

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

Brake Front (in.)

13.3

13.4

13.2

12.8

Brake Rear (in.)

13.3

12.0

12.2

12.8

60-0 MPH (ft)

128

120

N.A

108

The Ford Explorer scores an impressive stopping distance of 108 ft. This feat is achieved with the optional summer tires. However, the Toyota Highlander covers 20 feet more to stop at a similar speed even with greater brake rotor discs.

2020 Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy

The 3.5-liter V6 engine offers a combined mpg of 23. It’s dynamic cruise control and the start-stop system work in pairs to increase fuel efficiency. The Front-wheel drive earns a 24-mpg combined estimate and a one-mpg penalty with all-wheel drive.

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

MPG (city)

20

19

17

18

MPG (highway)

27

24

24

24

MPG (combined)

23

21

19

20

Fuel Tank Capacity (Gal.)

17.9

18.8

18.6

20.2

Range

(City/Highway)

384/518

357/451

316/446

N.A

Looking at the competition, the newly introduced Toyota Highlander delivers the segment-best fuel efficiency followed by the 2020 Kia Telluride which is appreciable considering it’s heavier than the rest.

2020 Toyota Highlander Interior

7.5/10

This is where Toyota has hit the ball out of the Park. There is a huge difference in the quality of materials used. The top trims such as the Limited and the Platinum levels offer an impressive 1200-watt JBL sound system upgrade. The interior has a sturdy built which has been decorated with wood grains and metal inserts.

Seating and comfort

Obviously, you get heated and ventilated seats, Plenty of legroom in the back with two captain chairs in the back wrapped in complete leather. Reclining and sliding functions can be operated through the command center screen in the back.

2020 Toyota Highlander Front Seats
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Front Seats

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

41.2/59.0/42.0

40.9/61.6/44.1

41.3/61.5/41.5

40.7/61.8/43.0

Rear

(Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

39.4/58.7/41.0

40.2/61.2/42.4

40.4/60.8/37.6

40.5/61.9/39.0

The Highlanders competitors offer better usage of cabin space with more Passenger volume. Ford’s Explorer straightaway has the most spacious cabin space, with best in class Rear Head and Shoulder room.

Infotainment

The Platinum is the only trim that benefits from a 12.3-inch screen, which is optional on the Limited trim well. But other than that all the other version have a standard 8-inch infotainment screen 

2020 Toyota Highlander Infotainment System
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Has a 12.3-inch Infotainment System

What are the infotainment features on offer in the Highlander?

Unlike the previous Toyotas, Apple Car Play and Android Auto are standard in the 2020 version. It also includes a six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, Amazon Alexa and four USB ports. But then if you’re the kind of person who likes to blast his rap music till sundown, the Platinum trim would be perfect for you which comes equipped with a 12-speaker JBL audio system.

What are the interior features on offer in the Highlander?

The Interior of the Highlander does provide a few features that are contributing factors in making the interior quality and comfort that much better.

  • The wireless smartphone charging pad
  • Huge center console bin with dual access points
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Varied climate control zones
  • Power adjustable door mirrors
  • Cargo area light

How much Cargo can the Toyota Highlander take in?

Let’s find out what the Cargo can hold? A set of a stroller or the golf clubs can be easily placed in the boot space with ease, even with the third row up. It has 60/40 folding seats. The rear window can be opened for easy access to the boot. It is fairly easy to load/unload your luggage.

2020 Toyota Highlander Cargo Space
2020 Toyota Highlander Cargo Volume is 16.0 cu ft.

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

Cargo Volume (cu.-ft)

16.0

21.0

20.6

18.2

The Toyota Highlander offers the least cargo space behind the 3rd row at 16 cu-ft. Fold the second and third rows and then you get a massive 83.7 cu-ft of cargo space. At 21 cu-ft, Kia Telluride offers the most Cargo volume behind the third row.

2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Interior

2020 Toyota Highlander Exterior

The latest-gen Toyota is a treat to look at. The front end might seem busy for some people, but that’s what makes it interesting, Toyota has gone up and beyond its normal design structure, which is a bold move by them. Toyota has made the Highlander Longer in length, shorter in Height with the roof lines flowing dramatically to the rear end. Highlander has a more appealing visage.

Design and dimension

Right out of the bed, Wonderful! In addition to the 20 inch brushed aluminum wheels and those Character lines flowing through the rear fenders, the Toyota Highlander is a pure treat to look at. Styling is on Point. The Highlander comes with a generous chrome application at the front. The design comes off as pretty aggressive. 

2020 Toyota Highlander Three Quarter View
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Third Quarter View

Models

2020 Toyota Highlander 

2020 Kia Telluride

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

2020 Ford Explorer

Length (in)

194.9

196.9

198.3

198.8

Width (in)

76.0

78.3

78.3

78.9

Height (in)

68.1

68.9

70.0

69.9

Ground clearance (in)

8.0

8.0

8.0

7.9

Wheelbase (in)

112.2

114.2

117.3

119.1

Track width (in) F/R

65.3/65.4

67.2/67.6

67.2/67.8

66.9/66.9

Curb weight (lbs)

4330

4354

4343

4345

The Toyota Highlander has the smallest wheelbase of the bunch while having a decent ground clearance of 8-inch. As is evident from the above data, the smaller wheelbase of the Highlander translates to lesser passenger volume. Whereas the Explorer offers the most passenger volume. 

Exterior Features

The 2020 Toyota Highlander has a lot of new features that the 2019 version didn’t have. Toyota’s newer design model has been the highlight which is evident enough in the new Highlander. A prominent Character line through the rear fender looks dope and is what differentiates it from the others in its segment.

  • Laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade.
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Standard 18 inch and optional 20-inch wheels
  • Rear window defroster
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior
2020 Toyota Highlander SUV Exterior

2020 Toyota Highlander Safety

Toyota is one company that excels in providing reliability. The Highlander works hard, lasts long and doesn’t break as often as it’s competitors. This SUV is not only a capable off-roader, but it also is reliable enough to last long as a daily driver.

Toyota’s biggest selling point is it’s upgraded Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 which gives you all the required safety features and more.

The 2019 Toyota Highlander receives an overall 5-star rating from NHTSA. It also scores well in the safety tests conducted by IIHS.

 It checks all the boxes a genuine reliable vehicle would. We can wholeheartedly recommend this vehicle. 

What are the Safety Features on offer In the Highlander?

Much like the 2019 model of the Highlander, the 2020 version of the Highlander comes packed with safety features including advanced driver safety aids such as the following.

  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Blindspot Monitor+ Rear cross-traffic Alert
  • Radar Cruise control
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection 
  • Lane Tracing Assist System- It centers the Highlander in the intended lane of travel.
  • Pretensioners-Seatbelt pretensioners automatically tighten seatbelts to place the occupant in the optimal seating position during a collision

2020 Toyota Highlander Competition

Toyota Highlander vs Ford Explorer

Explorer’s 3.5-liter V6 eco-boost engine belts out 355 horsepower which is more than any other SUV in its segment. It is the longest three-row crossover in this segment and hence gives convenient third-row access. When it comes to convenience, the Explorer takes the Crown. Toyota has only two engines to offer-a 2.7-liter inline-four and a 3.5-liter V6. The Highlander offers more features than the Explorer but commands a higher price tag.

2020 Ford Explorer SUV
2020 Ford Explorer SUV

Toyota Highlander vs Kia Telluride

Kia Telluride is powered by a more powerful 3.8-liter V6 engine that generates 291 horsepower. In comparison, the gearbox on Kia Telluride is slightly better. That said, the Highlander depicts a rugged, yet intuitive American interior, whereas the Telluride has a more subtle design language. The Highlander offers better fuel economy, more features, better fit and finish inside and a lot more tech too. However, Kia has the advantage of a more friendly price tag. 

2020 Kia Telluride SUV
Caption

Toyota Highlander vs Volkswagen Atlas-

The Toyota Highlander comes with a standard 3.5L V6 engine and an optional hybrid configuration for much better fuel economy. The Toyota highlander disappoints in terms of internal cargo volume in comparison to the Atlas. The Volkswagon Atlas has a longer wheelbase for more passenger volume. However, Toyota has managed to improve the performance efficiency of its highlanders with one of the best in class fuel economy.

2020 Volkswagen Atlas SUV
2020 Volkswagen Atlas SUV

 

2020 Toyota Highlander Final Verdict

The Good definitely gets Better. Toyota has brought its A-game full speed ahead to go up against all of the other manufacturers. It might not be the best of its three-row segment, but it is highly capable and far better than its predecessor. If you want a vehicle with better fuel efficiency, intuitive interior features, plush ride and looks bar the strictly commuter nature and lackluster stopping power, the 2020 Toyota Highlander is the preferable choice.