The automobile industry is very dynamic. Due to the rapidly changing technology, vehicle designs and technologies change very fast. Unless an automaker is on the lookout, models can easily become “old school” even before they launch them. The Toyota Highlander when launched was a very impressive model in the mid-size crossover SUV segment.
However, a few years later the model was overtaken by the likes of Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer. In a bid to revive the model, Toyota has decided to revamp the Highlander. Read along to find out the new changes Toyota has equipped the Highlander with:
2017 Toyota Highlander Exterior
The Highlander lineup gets one more member for 2017. The automaker has added the SE trim which will fall between the XLE and Limited trims. The SE joins the above two trims as well as the base LE and LE Plus trims and the range-topping Limited Platinum trim.
Most of the new changes for the 5-door SUV are visual. To start with, the front gets a new grille adopted from Lexus (Toyota’s luxury brand). The trims are differentiated by the colors of their grilles. The lower LE, LE Plus and XLE trims feature a silver paint finish. On the other hand, the top Limited and Limited Platinum trims feature a chrome finish. The upper part of the grille has the Toyota logo at the center. The grille is flanked by LED headlights whose housings feature the same color as the grille. The headlight housings also feature LED DRLs below the main lights. The front bumper has also been redesigned and is integrated with fog lamps.
The rear features new taillight housings, LED taillights and a redesigned tailgate. The top trims have a chromed strip on their rear bumpers. Except the SE trim which rides on 19-inch alloy wheels, all other trims get 18-inch alloy wheels.
The new SE trim features a dark-colored grille. The dark color trim extends on the headlights housings and roof rails. The trim also features a sport-tuned suspension. The new models will be offered with two additional colors which are Celestial Silver Metallic and Toasted Walnut Pearl. The SE trim is offered in an Exclusive Salsa Red Pearl though it can also be had in other colors.
2017 Toyota Highlander Interior
The cabin of 2017 Toyota Highlander has been updated to offer more comfort and convenience. While lower trims feature quality cloth upholstery, top trims feature a premium leather trim. Buyers can choose either captain seats for their second rows or the regular bench seats. Depending on the selection, the cabin accommodates either 7 or 8 passengers. Al passengers will enjoy plenty of head and leg room.
The SUV comes equipped with an 8.0-inch infotainment system. The system provides various connectivity features such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Smartphone integration through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. For entertainment, the Highlander comes with a 6-speaker sound system that features an FM/AM radio, HD radio, satellite radio and a CD/DVD player. Unlike the previous model’s single USB port, the new Highlander features 5 USB ports and a tri-zone climate control system.
The SE features a black leather interior trim that differentiates it from other models. The black color trim is also featured on the seats. The vehicle also features a silver stitching on the seats, door inserts and seat inserts. Another differentiating feature is its black-colored tray at the front.
For safety, the SUV is adequately equipped and features the automaker’s Safety Sense P suite which packs lane-departure warning, pre-collision warning with automatic braking assist and adaptive cruise control.
Available safety options include a pre-collision warning that integrates radar and cameras that detect objects and pedestrians in front and then warns the driver or automatically apply brakes. Blind-spot monitoring is standard on the XLE trim. The top Limited Platinum trim adds a 360-degree view camera.
Engine Specs and performance
During the launch, the automaker revealed that the 2017 Toyota Highlander will be powered by three different engines. Powering the base LE trim is a 2.7 L 4-cylinder engine which is carried over from the outgoing version. This engine is rated at 185 hp. For more juice, the Highlander features a new 3.5 L V-6 engine which the automaker says will produce around 300 hp. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that propels the front wheels. All other highlanders are AWD.
Though Toyota says this is a new engine, it is only a better tuned version of the unit that drives the current models. New for 2017, the engine features direct injection and a start/stop technology which helps the model attain a better performance and an improved fuel economy. The engine will be paired with a newly developed 8-speed automatic transmission system
The third drive-train is a hybrid system. The new hybrid Highlanders will be offered in LE, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum trims (the outgoing model was only offered in Limited and Limited Platinum trims). The engine combines the 3.5 L gasoline engine that powers conventional models and an impressive electric motor. The hybrid system will be mated to a CVT system that drives all wheels.
Price and release date
The automaker is still keeping price details close to its chest. These details will suffice when the model nears its on-sale date. However, I don’t expect a significant increment from the current model’s prices.
The release date is anticipated in the second part of 2016 while the estimated starting price of the model with the basic trim level around $ 31,000.
Competition is very stiff in this segment due to declining fuel prices. The new 2017 Toyota Highlander will face competition from the likes of GMC Acadia, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Armada, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer.