Meet the new Toyota Highlander hybrid SUV

The new, seven-seat Toyota Highlander is now on sale in the UK. Available exclusively with a full hybrid powertrain, Highlander sits at the top of our SUV line-up, joining the RAV4, C-HR and forthcoming Yaris Cross to provide the widest range of hybrid sports utility vehicles Europe has ever seen.

Built on the GA-K platform, Highlander is equipped with our latest, fourth-generation hybrid technology for up to 80% emissions-free driving. It combines Toyota’s renowned reputation for quality, durability and reliability with traditional SUV qualities such as all-wheel drive traction, a flexible interior and strong towing capacity.

How big is the Toyota Highlander?

The new Highlander is 4,966mm long, 1,930mm wide and 1,755mm high and has a 2,850mm wheelbase. Its sophisticated design suggests the look of an urban SUV, while its wide front and tracks (1,662 and 1,690mm respectively) and flared arches create a broad stance that communicates the power, strength and durability of a rugged all-wheel drive model. The sizeable proportions continue with the fitment of striking 20-inch alloy wheels.

How spacious is it inside?

Highlander’s generous 2,850mm wheelbase is 160mm longer than that of the smaller RAV4, which allows it to be true seven-seater. The second row of seats has a sliding range of 180mm to ensure spacious third row accommodation for two adults and easy access. Legroom for front seat occupants is up to 1,067mm, with up to 1,043mm in the middle row and 703mm in the third row.

When all seven seats are in place, the load compartment offers 332 litres of storage space, including 27 litres beneath the floor. But this capacity quickly increases to 865 litres and a massive 1,909 litres when the third and second row seats are folded down. In addition, there are multiple storage compartments throughout the cabin, together with power, USB and HDMI ports in the front seats and middle row.

How generous is the specification?

Generous is the right word. For the UK market, Highlander is available in two high-specification versions: Excel and Excel Premium.

Premium features that are standard on the Excel include a seven-inch TFT multi-information display in the driver’s instrument binnacle, a multimedia system with a central eight-inch display, satellite navigation, smartphone integration and a wireless smartphone charger. With regard to comfort and convenience features you get triple-zone air conditioning, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, power tailgate, panoramic roof, black leather seat upholstery and an 11-speaker JBL Premium Sound System.

Customers choosing the top-level Excel Premium further gain kick-activated (hands-free) tailgate operation, ventilated front seats, heated outer second row seats, digital rear-view mirror, Panoramic View Monitor and a head-up display.

What is the powertrain?

Highlander uses our fourth-generation self-charging hybrid electric system, combining a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine with electric motors on both the front and rear axles – the latter delivering the vehicle’s intelligent all-wheel drive system. The motors are powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery centrally located beneath the second row seats.

The long-stroke petrol engine offers a world-class 41% level of thermal efficiency. Its fuel injection system can switch between direct cylinder injection and port injection, in order to optimise power output and fuel efficiency depending on driving conditions. Meanwhile, intelligent variable valve timing uses electric motor operation on the intake side rather than oil pressure control to enhance output and fuel efficiency, and reduce emissions.

The hybrid transaxle adopts a dual-axis structure to reduce its size and minimise transmission losses. This means that the two electric motor/generator units located within the transaxle now sit on their own shaft instead of being placed one behind the other. In addition, resonance and noise have been suppressed by polishing the gear teeth and creating a new gear structure design, making the hybrid system quieter than ever before.

The total system output is 245bhp, which delivers smooth, powerful performance and the potential for all-electric cruising at speeds up to 78mph. The dash to 62mph can be despatched in 8.3 seconds and Highlander will top out at 111mph. Combined fuel consumption is from 39.2 to 39.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 160 to 163g/km. Appropriate for its size and status, Highlander can tow braked trailers of up to two tonnes.

What is it like to drive?

Thanks to high body rigidity and the low centre of gravity afforded by its TNGA-K platform, as well as sophisticated MacPherson strut front and trailing wishbone rear suspension, the Highlander is engaging, nimble and comfortable to drive in all situations. These qualities are further enhanced with electronic Ride Control, which controls drive torque to the front wheels to reduce the pitching effect caused by hard acceleration or fluctuations in the road surface.

The driver can select their preferred drive mode to suit the occasion or conditions – Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail. All four modes can still be used when the vehicle is operating in its (separately selectable) EV all-electric mode.

The model’s intelligent all-wheel drive system uses a new rear transaxle to increase torque at the rear wheels. The electric motor can now provide 121Nm to boost vehicle performance without compromising noise, vibration, emissions or fuel economy. Torque distribution between the front and rear is precisely controlled, shuffling anywhere between 100% to the front wheels and up to 80% to the rear wheels, according to driving conditions. The precise ratio is shown in the multi-information display when AWD-i is in operation.

How safe is the Highlander?

The new Highlander is equipped with the latest Toyota Safety Sense package of active safety and driver assistance systems, designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions in a wide range of traffic scenarios. Elements include a Pre-Collision System with active steer assist and pedestrian detection, full-range Adaptive Cruise Control with Road Sign Assist, Lane Departure Alert and Lane Trace Assist, and Automatic High Beam.

How much does the Highlander cost?

Please visit the Highlander chapter on the Toyota UK website for all costing details. There you will be able to pore over the model’s long list of features and configure the vehicle to your specifications.

Toyota Highlander specifications

ENGINE A25A-FXS 2.5-litre four-cylinder 16v DOHC petrol engine with electronic variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. Output: 190PS at 6,000rpm and 239Nm at 4,300 to 4,500rpm.  
HYBRID SYSTEM Electric motor (front): AC permanent magnet, synchronous motor. Output: 134kW and 270Nm Electric motor (rear): AC permanent magnet, synchronous motor. Output: 40kW and 121Nm Hybrid battery: Nickel-metal hydride with 288V (nominal) and 650V (system) 
TOTAL OUTPUT 248PS 
TRANSMISSION CVT with planetary gear system and 3.605:1 differential gear ratio 
STATISTICS Performance: max speed 111mph and 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds Combined fuel consumption: 39.2 to 39.7mpg Fuel tank: 65 litres CO2 emissions: 160-163g/km (Excel) and 159-163g/km (Excel Premium) 
CHASSIS Suspension: MacPherson strut (front), trailing arm/double wishbone (rear) Brakes: 457mm ventilated discs front and rear Steering: electrically assisted rack and pinion with 2.82 turns lock-to-lock Turning radius: 5.7m (to tyres) Wheels: 20-inch alloys with 235/55 R20 tyres 
WEIGHTS Kerb weight: 2,050 to 2,105kg Towing capacity: 700kg (unbraked) and 2,000kg (braked) Gross vehicle weight: 2,720kg 
DIMENSIONS Exterior (LWH): 4,966mm x 1,930mm x 1,755mm Wheelbase: 2,850mm Track: 1,662mm (front) and 1,690mm (rear) Overhang: 988mm (front) and 1,128mm (rear) Body clearance: 202mm (ground), 18.1 degrees (approach), 22.7 degrees (departure), 16.7 degrees (break-over) Wading depth: 400mm 
DIMENSIONS Interior (LWH): 2,548mm x 1,499mm (front) x 1,212mm Luggage compartment (LWH): 520mm x 1,138mm x 800mm (to roof) Luggage capacity: 268-332 litres as seven-seater, 579-865 litres as five-seater, 1,909 litres as two-seater 

4 comments

  1. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Highlander and wondered why we couldn’t get one here! Now you’ve made me wonder if I should cancel my RAV4 order and wait for one of these? What’s the definition of “early next year”?!

  2. Will there be a blue in the colour range ? Automatic transmission. Would you post out a brochure please ? How long from placing order to delivery .

    1. Hi Julie,
      Orders for the Highlander will open from 4th January, with first deliveries scheduled to commence from March 2021.
      As the Highlander is a hybrid, it has an automatic transmission.
      Further specification details will follow closer to the on-sale date, so we’d recommend signing up for the latest news and keeping an eye on our blog and social channels!
      Brochures are not yet available.
      Thanks.

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