Toyota announced updates for hybrid and gas models of its 2023 midsize SUV, the Toyota Highlander.
For 2023, the Highlander gas models receive a higher-torque, high-efficiency turbocharged engine. The 265-horsepower, 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder, which uses balance shafts for smooth performance, delivers 309 lb-ft of torque. This is a 17% increase over the previous 3.5L V6 engine’s 263 lb-ft.
The fuel efficiency remains the same as the V6 for this higher-torque engine with a manufacturer-estimated 24 MPG combined. The new engine, standard across all gas grades, offers about a 50% reduction in NOx and NMOG as well as an improvement in CO2 emissions compared to the outgoing V6 engine.
The Highlander turbo models are equipped to tow up to 5,000-pounds and include Trailer Sway Control (TSC), which uses the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) to help control unwanted trailer movement. To help reduce fuel consumption and emissions, the standard stop and start engine system allows the engine to shut off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop and instantly restarts when the driver’s foot lifts from the brake pedal.
The 2023 Highlander turbo models offer a choice of FWD or two different available AWD systems. For the Highlander Gas L, LE, and XLE models, optional AWD system.
The Highlander Hybrid, with its 36 combined MPG manufacturer estimated rating, accounts for more than a quarter of Highlander sales in the U.S. Offered in both FWD and AWD, the hybrid combines a high-efficiency 2.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine with two electric motor-generators. The gas engine employs Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system by Electric motor (VVT-iE) on the intake camshaft, and VVT-i on the exhaust camshaft. A variable cooling system (electric water pump, electric thermostat) and a fully variable oil pump help to further enhance engine efficiency.
All Highlander models, in addition to hybrid, include the following features for optimal on-road and off-road performance and safety:
- Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
- Trailer Sway Control (TSC)
- Downhill Assist Control (DAC) (available on gas turbo AWD only)
The Highlander is a repeat IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ recipient, acknowledging the standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ system that includes:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/ PD)
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA)
- Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
- Road Sign Assist (RSA)
- Automatic High Beams (AHB)
Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) is standard on the LE grade and above. Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking is available on Limited and Platinum. A Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan is available on Limited and standard on Platinum and provides a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle.
The 2023 Highlander is equipped with eight airbags, including side curtain airbags for all three rows. Toyota’s Star Safety System includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Smart Stop Technology (SST).
Hybrid models employ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), which provides integrated control of the ABS, Brake Assist, TRAC, VSC, Hill-Start Assist control and electric power steering (EPS) systems. The system helps to maintain vehicle stability when swerving on slippery road surfaces by controlling the brakes, hybrid system output and steering assist.