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Toyota Drops V6 Highlander - Hybrid Now A Slam Dunk

In an unexpected move, Toyota adds a second four-cylinder engine to the Highlander line and drops its most popular V6 engine.

Toyota announced today that it will discontinue the beloved V6 engine from its Highlander SUV line for 2023. In its place will be a four-cylinder engine with less power but, oddly, the same MPG rating. The new four-cylinder is turbocharged (of course), and has a bit more engine-rated torque. What we find odd about the move is that the V6 Highlander didn’t lack torque.

Related Story: New Toyota Highlander Owners Choose the Hybrid Over the V6

The Highlander will now have two engine choices. The 24 MPG four-cylinder turbo and the 36 MPG four-cylinder Hybrid engine. The new turbo has 265 hp and the Hybrid offers 243. The real difference between the two options is the annual fuel cost. The Turbo option will cost owners $2,700 per year in fuel. The Hybrid just $1,800. Thus, over 15 years of ownership, the Hybrid will save its owner $13,500 in fuel.

We have no doubt that the new four-cylinder turbocharged engine will provide ample (or better) power and torque for Highlander owners. But both the V6 and Hybrid already do so. Since Toyota says the fuel economy of the new turbo is not better than the outgoing V6 this move really has us wondering why Toyota made the move.

Further confusing this issue is why Toyota didn’t add a “Prime” plug-in hybrid option instead. That would be a Highlander with an MPG rating of about 85 MPGe, amazing instant torque, and over 300 hp. That powerplant already exists in the RAV4 Prime.

Toyota points out that the new engine is more environmentally friendly than the outgoing V6 engine. It offers a 50% reduction in NOx and NMOG as well as an improvement in CO2 emissions. But if those things are essential to a buyer, why not the Hybrid?

Watch Torque News for a full update on the 2023 Highander. Tell us in the comments below what you think of this engine move by Toyota.

Bias Note: The Author is the proud original owner of a pristine 2007 Gen-1 V6 Toyota Highlander Sport. His only regret is that he didn’t buy the Hybrid.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990, when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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Highlander image montage by Toyota


Mark Day (not verified)    May 12, 2022 - 4:33PM

The author, I believe, is part of a trend - holding on to older vehicles - more basic mechanicals than the new "computer on wheels". From exciting V8 engines to V6s to the current lackluster 4s. Will gerbil power be the future?

J P SULLIVAN (not verified)    May 19, 2022 - 5:54PM


A 6CYL HYBIRD is the Best of the BEST

William Stackhouse (not verified)    March 17, 2023 - 5:38PM

I will never buy any hybrid because I hate CVTs. So give me the smooth and durable V6 as opposed to the mechanically complex (turbo charged), rough 4 cylinder which will have to go a long way to be as durable and reliable as the V6. Plus the V6 acceleration is significantly faster than the 4 cylinder with only minimally less fuel economy. Meanwhile Toyota continues to build Avalons in at least China. What I don't get is that you can still get a V6 in the Camry and in the Lexus ES , but not in the Lexus RX. The Crown that supposedly replaces the Avalon uses a 2.5 cylinder engine or a hybrid.

Arnold Fege (not verified)    June 23, 2023 - 7:18PM

I have had 7 v6 highlanders, every 2 years. But without the v6, Toyota has just lost a customer. Even though Toyota has been cutting corners, it is the v6 the reason I purchased. If they would eliminate the third row,, that by itself would increase mileage. So I am gone Toyota