<p><em>Photo of 2017 Highlander Hybrid courtesy of Toyota.</em></p>

Toyota is increasing the power output and adding new safety features to its 2017 Highlander in a heavy mid-cycle refresh for the mid-size SUV.

The 2017 Highlander will arrive with a new 3.5L V-6 with D-4S fuel injection that's paired with a new Direct Shift 8AT 8-speed automatic transmission. The new V-6 replaces an outgoing 3.5L V-6 and increases power output by 25 horsepower to 295 hp and 263 lb.-ft. ( a gain of 15 lb.-ft.) of torque. The 8-speed replaces a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The carryover 2.7L four-cylinder remains the standard engine on the base LE model.

Fuel economy for all-wheel V-6 models improves to an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway compared to 18 mpg and 24 mpg on the outgoing model.

Toyota is also adding automatic stop-start to V-6 Highlander models.

The 2017 Highlander becomes a safer SUV with the addition of the Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) as standard equipment. The safety package includes pedestrian detection,  automatic frontal braking, steering assist, dynamic radar-based cruise control, and automatic high beams.

Toyota will continue to offer the Highlander Hybrid, which is available in four trim grades including LE, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. The vehicle pairs a 2.5L V-6 with a high-torque electric drive motor for a total system output of 306 hp. The vehicle should achieve an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.