2023 Toyota Highlander 2

2023 Toyota Highlander: No More V6 Power, But Is The New Turbo Engine Good Enough?

The 2023 Toyota Highlander has received comprehensive updates to keep it competitive against worthy rivals like the Kia Telluride and Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Highlander has always occupied the middle ground in Toyota’s SUV lineup. It’s slightly larger than the RAV4, but its unibody TNGA-K platform is more refined than the ladder-frame Sequoia. It has three-row seating for a middle-sized family, but it has the skimpiest third row in its class. The 2023 Highlander remains part of the fourth-gen variant introduced in 2020, and it’s the first Highlander to get a standard four-cylinder engine.

2023 Toyota Highlander: What’s New?

Say goodbye to the outgoing Highlander’s smooth and venerable 3.5-liter V6 with 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft. of torque. The 2023 Highlander has a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 265 horsepower and 310 lb-ft. of torque. The new and smaller engine has 30 less horsepower than the V6, but it has 46 more lb-ft. of torque (a 17 percent increase) to compensate.

The engine downsizing also means better emissions numbers, and Toyota claims the blown four-banger spews out 50 percent less NOx and CO2 than the V6, which is a good thing. And as proof that the new four-cylinder engine bodes well with the Highlander’s 4,134 lbs. curb weight, Toyota estimates 24 mpg in the combined cycle, the same as the outgoing Highlander V6. Front-wheel drive remains standard, while all-wheel drive with dynamic torque vectoring is optional across the lineup.

The new Toyota Highlander also has trailer sway control, hill start assist, and downhill assist management (gas variants only).

2023 Toyota Highlander
2023 Toyota Highlander. Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

More Tech Features & Style Points

The turbo engine is not the only thing new for the 2023 Toyota Highlander. The Limited and Platinum get two 12.3-inch multi-information screens as standard, bringing along the 11-speaker JBL premium audio system from the outgoing variant. The 12.3-inch center touchscreen is optional in the XLE and XSE, which both have a standard eight-inch screen, a seven-inch digital instrument panel, and a hands-free power liftgate. Furthermore, dual Bluetooth and Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard for all 2023 Highlanders.

Also new is wireless charging (now relocated to the instrument panel shelf) and power-folding mirrors. Other new features for Highlander XSE include black 20-inch wheels (wrapped in lower-profile all-season tires), bespoke suspension tuning, new rocker panels, and XSE-exclusive black exterior garnishes. In addition, Highlander L and LE variants receive the larger seven-inch instrument display, while the Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition carries on with 18-inch bronze wheels and exclusive paint colors.

Speaking of the Highlander Hybrid, it remains motivated by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, pumping out a combined 243 horsepower. It has a CVT gearbox with a standard front-wheel or optional all-wheel drivetrain. Other standard features include illuminated bronze sills, two 120V/1,500-watt outlets, rain-sensing wipers, and SofTex seats with bronze stitching, to mention a few.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+

The 2023 Toyota Highlander is a repeat IIHS Top Safety Pick+ recipient, the highest safety rating awarded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. All Highlanders come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+. The comprehensive package includes automatic high beams, full-speed dynamic range cruise control, lane departure warning, lane tracing assist, pre-collision with pedestrian detection, and road sign assist.

Front and rear parking assist with automatic braking are available on Limited and Platinum grades, while the Platinum trim has a live, rotating 360-degree camera.

Toyota Factory Warranty

The 2023 Toyota Highlander leaves the factory with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a five-year corrosion warranty with no mileage limits.

Meanwhile, the Highlander Hybrid has an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid warranty and a 10-year/150,000-mile battery warranty. ToyotaCare is standard across all 2023 Highlanders, and it covers two years or 25,000-miles of factory-scheduled maintenance and two years of roadside assistance (unlimited mileage).

Depending on how much you drive, an extended warranty may benefit you. Before you decide, see this helpful guide to Toyota extended warranties.

2023 Toyota Highlander: Pricing & Availability

Toyota has yet to announce the 2023 Highlander’s official release date, but we’re expecting the first deliveries to arrive at dealerships by late summer or early fall. Pricing remains forthcoming, although we would expect to see similar base prices across the board, starting at about $38,000 for the Highlander L and upwards of $50,000 for the range-topping Platinum and Hybrid Platinum trims.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.