2023 Toyota Highlander preview

Jessica Thompson

What kind of car is the 2023 Toyota Highlander? What does it compare to?

The 2023 Highlander handles minivan duty in SUV form, and the available hybrid is one of the most efficient 8-person vehicles without a plug. Large but not really lovely, the flexible family hauler competes against a congress of three-row models, ranging from the lovely Kia Telluride to the larger Chevy Traverse. 

Is the 2023 Toyota Highlander a good car?

Review continues below

We need to test the standard turbo-4 before we can respond, but historically, the Highlander is a top performer, with its efficient powertrain options, roomy interior, reliability, and overall value on base and mid-grade models. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2023 Toyota Highlander?

A bronze trim package and an XSE model rolling on 20-inch black wheels inject some life into the three-row SUV, but it’s the lack of sliding doors that most distinguishes it from the Sienna minivan. 

The big change for 2023 sits under the creased hood and behind the tie-clip badge affixed on some grilles. All gas versions of the three-row SUV will be powered by a 2.4-liter turbo-4 engine instead of the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6. The forced induction helps make 265 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque, compared to 295 hp but only 263 lb-ft in the smooth but dated V-6. Same as the outgoing V-6, the turbo-4 can tow up to 5,000 lb. Yet, estimated fuel economy remains the same as the V-6 for front-wheel-drive models at 24 mpg combined. Toyota says the turbo-4 produces 50% less nitrous oxide and reduces carbon dioxide emissions compared to the V-6. The turbo-4 with an 8-speed automatic transmission is also used in the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX 350, which is smaller, lighter, and only seats five. We’ll update this preview with drive impressions as soon as we test the refreshed Highlander. 

For efficiency, it’s hard to top the Highlander Hybrid and its 35-mpg combined rating with AWD and 36-mpg combined rating with FWD. That tops most other eight-seat SUVs and minivans without a plug.

The related Sienna, and its related standard hybrid powertrain, performs better in the family way, but the Highlander allows enough room for eight on twin rear bench seats or seven passengers with available mid-row captain’s chairs. Third row access is limited by push-and-pull second-row seat levers, and two kids can fit in the wayback but wedging in a third would make even the briefest of car pools an eternity. Behind the third row, the Highlander allows for 16.0 cubic feet of space, but with both rows folded flat it opens up to 84 cubic feet to handle most weekend projects that don’t involve getting the kids here, there, and here again.  

Toyota equips the family vehicle with driver-assist features such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and all but the base L come with blind-spot monitors. A perennial Top Safety Pick+ winner from the IIHS, the Highlander also earns a five-star NHTSA rating.  

How much does the 2023 Toyota Highlander cost?

Expect pricing late this summer and expect it to cost more than the current $36,380 Highlander L. Standard equipment with the new engine includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen running on Toyota’s new operating system that features excellent voice commands and a much improved interface. It also gets wireless smartphone compatibility. Toyota backs every Highlander with a 3-year/36,000-month basic new-car warranty with two years or 25,000 miles of routine maintenance. Top Limited and Platinum trims feature power-folding side mirrors, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster replacing the analog cluster, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen. The prices on top models evaded our recommendation in the past but the sweet spot has been the Highlander XLE with its sunroof, power liftgate, and power/heated seats. 

Where is the 2023 Toyota Highlander made?

In Princeton, Indiana.

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