2020 Toyota Highlander Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
Toyota has long been a leader in the industry, known for building reliable vehicles that people can depend on. The Highlander is yet another best-selling vehicle in the Toyota lineup. The 2020 Toyota Highlander has been revamped, and now it comes with even more modern features.
There are multiple trims to choose from, so people might find it difficult to determine which Highlander is best for them. The L is the base model, and the LE and XLE are the mid-level options. At the top of the line are the Limited and Platinum trims. Hybrids are available on the LE, XLE, and Limited trims.
What's New for 2020?
The list of things that is new about the 2020 Toyota Highlander is quite lengthy. For this model year, Toyota has made the SUV a bit bigger, and it's taken out the LE Plus and SE trims. The engine is a big change, as the V6 is now standard. More driver-assist technologies are included, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen is available on the higher trims. On the exterior, the SUV seems bolder and more sculpted, and inside the cabin, there are different seating choices and more elegant design details.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2020 Toyota Highlander – The Pros
1. Two Competent Engines
The standard 2020 Toyota Highlander runs on a V6 that's fairly sizable, with a displacement of 3.5 liters. Power output is solid, at 295 horsepower. This provides all the power one might need to climb a steep hill or quickly accelerate onto the highway.
An alternative option is to go with a hybrid Highlander. On the hybrids, there is a 2.5-liter engine that works in cooperation with two electric motors. The result is a net 243 horsepower, which is still quite strong. Many eco-minded drivers won't mind the reduction in capability since the savings in gas can balance things out.
2. A Lot of Cargo Room
Behind the third row of seating is a good-sized cargo area, measuring 16 cubic feet. This would likely be plenty of room for weekend getaways or trips to the store. Six cargo hooks make it easier to secure smaller items and keep them from sliding around.
If more room is needed, there are some options. Lowering the third row exposes 48.4 cubic feet of space. Folding down the second and third rows gives people an impressive 84.3 cubic feet of storage room. What's great is that all the seats in a row don't have to be folded down at the same time; some rear seat passengers can be seated alongside something long, but somewhat narrow, like skis or lumber.
3. Fits Up to Eight People
The L and LE come with room for eight passengers. The configuration is a 60/40 split bench in the middle row that can slide and recline in addition to a 60/40 split bench in the back that can also recline. This set-up is available on the XLE and Limited, though their default layout is to have captain's chairs in the middle row.
4. Towing Capacity
The Highlander isn't just a SUV in looks alone. It also has the power to hold its own in a variety of situations. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, and drivers can use the trailer sway control feature to stabilize things as they travel while hauling cargo.
5. Keeping Things Charged
These days, people seem to always need to have access to a charger. Whether the need is for a tablet, cell phone, or other mobile device, the Highlander comes with four USB ports. There are two additional 12V outlets just in case there is a different type of outlet needed. Further, the Limited and Platinum have a 120V outlet.
6. A Full Safety Suite
Toyota has focused on developing their safety features, and their commitment to safety is noteworthy. All trims of the 2020 Toyota Highlander comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.
This suite comes with multiple driver-assist features that can look out for people, warning them when collisions seem imminent and taking action if necessary. For instance, if a driver starts to veer out of a lane, the SUV will alert him or her and gently correct steering. Likewise, if it seems the vehicle is about to hit the car in front of it, warnings will go off and brake pressure will automatically be applied. Automatic high beam control and dynamic cruise control that can adjust to different speeds are some other features included in this suite.
7. Choose From Different Drive Modes
The front-wheel drive versions of the Highlander come with a Snow Mode as well as Eco, Normal, and Sport Modes. This lets people decide how gently or aggressively, in a sense, they'd like to handle the drive. When the SUV is equipped with all-wheel drive, it also comes with a Multi-Terrain Select function. Drivers can optimize traction if they run into mud/sand or rock/dirt. This definitely increases the rugged feel of the Toyota and gives people the option to venture far off the beaten path.
8. Convenient Entry and Exit
All trims of the 2020 Toyota Highlander utilize a Smart Key System. This takes remote keyless entry one step further, as it allows drivers to keep their keys tucked away securely in their pockets or bags. When the vehicle senses that the key fob is in close proximity, all it takes to unlock or lock the doors is the touch of a handle. This system works on both front doors and liftgate.
9. Little Luxuries
Sitting inside a Toyota Highlander can be similar to sitting inside a vehicle built by a luxury brand. Some trims have wireless charging, ambient lighting that can improve the atmosphere, and digital rearview mirrors.
On the higher trims, there are leather-trimmed seats in the front two rows. The driver and passenger get to enjoy heated and ventilated seats that can help with climate control, and second-row passengers in the Platinum also get to have heated seats that will be so appreciated in the colder months.
10. Strong Design
The new 2020 Toyota Highlander looks like it's ready for action. The front grille can come in black and chrome, and the rear spoiler adds another element to how the tail end of the SUV looks. Chrome badging is available on the higher trims, and certain models come with roof rails and mudguards that further the impression that the Highlander is a solid vehicle.
Reasons Not to Buy a 2020 Toyota Highlander – The Cons
1. Filling Up More Frequently
The mileage of the 2020 Toyota Highlander doesn't seem so bad when thinking about fuel economy a few years ago. However, considering that there are more and more hybrid and plug-in options these days, it does make one question the efficiency of the traditional Highlander. The all-wheel drive versions of the Hybrid get only 20 miles per gallon in the city, and combined mileage is an estimated 23 miles per gallon.
Of course, there's the hybrid option, which changes things quite a bit. It's expected to get a combined 34 miles per gallon. This number is nowhere near what a Prius can get, for example, but it is an improvement over the non-hybrid Highlander.
2. Tight Squeeze in the Back
Though there are three rows of seating in the 2020 Toyota Highlander, the reality is that the third row is very small. With only 27.7 inches of room for their legs, passengers will feel like they don't have anywhere to stretch out. In contrast, the second row has 41 inches of leg room. It's almost a sure bet that passengers will all want to grab one of those second-row spots on a long road trip.
3. Steep Price Tag
The Highlander is a nice choice for anyone looking into getting a three-row SUV, but it does have a somewhat expensive price tag. It starts out well into the $30,000s, and it only takes a few upgrades in trim to launch it above the $40,000 mark. People get what they pay for, usually, and there are many amenities that come along with those price tags. However, affordability could be a factor that prevents some customers from buying it.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
There are several three-row SUVs that are competing with the Toyota Highlander. Two of them, the Hyundai Santa Fe and Honda Pilot, don't live up to the horsepower standards that the Highlander has set. This can be important for anyone who has to tow cargo or who simply wants to feel in command of a strong and capable vehicle. By having a hybrid version, Toyota has set itself apart from the Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, and many other models made by brands who aren't as experienced with hybrids.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander excels in many areas. It checks off the most important boxes: reliability, power, safety, and versatility. It has three rows of seating to fit seven or eight people, and while the third row is small, it would be perfect for kids. People of all ages will appreciate how comfortable it is in the front and middle rows, and having an advanced infotainment system and comprehensive safety package makes the vehicle all the better. People have many options with the Highlander, and they can pick from either a more budget-friendly base model or get their SUV fully loaded with the Platinum trim. Toyota is a brand that does well with the masses, and the Highlander is an example of how they can design vehicles to be so appealing.
• Why buy a 2019 Toyota Highlander? w/ pros vs cons