Toyota Highlander — New features, new paint colors

By David Finkelstein

For the 2017 model year, Toyota is offering its Highlander mid-size crossover in an SE trim grade, which brings a premium, sporty personality to the product mix. It's also sold in the LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum versions, and all models are available in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.

Additionally, Toyota also features a fuel-stingy Hybrid version in two additional grade's; LE and XLE, besides their Hybrid Limited and Platinum offerings. It's now one of eight hybrid models offered by Toyota for the '17 model year. 

All Highlander crossovers are derived from a revised newly styled front and rear plus an enhanced interior. Furthermore, it's loaded with plenty of conveniences and comfort. This is the third-generation of Highlander, now entering its fourth year of production. This people mover is built to accommodate up to eight occupants in “near luxury” with its three-row seating.

As expected, it further conveys a more “elegant presence” with all grades for 2017. The front grille on LE, LE Plus and XLE trim features a silver-painted finish, while Limited and Platinum grades have a painted chrome finish. The taillights are redesigned for a sleeker look and now feature standard LED's. The Limited and Platinum models receive a tasteful rear bumper chrome garnish treatment.

Three new exterior colors further help make the '17 version form an expressive look. Even the names associated with the new paint color's convey a sound of exquisiteness — Celestial Silver Metallic, Toasted Walnut Pearl, and exclusively on the new SE, Salsa Red Pearl.

Inside all trims, the factory adds up to five USB personal device charging ports for  i-Phones, hand-held games and other electronics. The Limited Platinum also offers a lavish new brown leather interior that helps close the gab between a “middle grade” and “high end” style interior.

Highlander is among numerous Toyota's having the innovative and highly advanced Toyota Safety Sense driver-assist technology as standard. It uses millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to detect a pedestrian or a nearby vehicle as well as visible road lane markers in the surrounding area. It then can help the driver identify obstacles and automatically apply braking if necessary to help mitigate or avoid collisions within certain conditions. Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Automatic High Beams also help makeup this vehicles technology portfolio. 

Ample visibility for the driver is achieved on all models with a standard back-up camera and the vehicle's large window glass area. On the XLE grade and above, Highlander receives a standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert system. Taking visibility and safety to new heights, the 2017 Highlander Limited Platinum grades include standard-issue Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan. It's a seamless system to the driver of which was previously only available on high end luxury vehicles.

Powering Highlander is one of two different engines (besides their Hybrid powertrain system). The base front-wheel-drive model comes with their 2.7-liter DOHC four cylinder engine that generates 185-horsepower. Mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the EPA numbers reflect 20-mpg city/24-mpg highway. Their 3.5-liter V-6 engine produces 295-horsepower and is linked to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The Hybrid model is the most fuel-efficient Highlander with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city/28 mpg highway/29 mpg combined rating. The suggested retail pricing of the non-hybrid models ranges from $30,630 for the LE four-cylinder 2WD model to $46,260 for the Limited Platinum V6 AWD. With all of its added standard equipment, the MSRP for the Highlander Hybrid models range from $36,270 for the LE V6 AWD to $47,880 for the Limited Platinum V6 AWD. Factory suggested pricing doesn't include delivery, processing, and handling charges that reflect an additional $940.

Highlander often competes with cross-shopped vehicles such as the GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, Nissan Pathfinder as well as the Dodge Durango.