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Toyota Updates Highlander Hybrid For New Generation - 36 MPG and Big Infotainment Changes

Toyota's legendary Highlander is all-new for 2020. Here are the changes to note for the Hybrid trims.

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Toyota has just launched an all-new fourth-generation 2020 Highlander. Our own Jeff Teague will overview the full model line, so this story will focus on the updates to the Hybrid trims.
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Trims And Space
Toyota will offer the Hybrid version of the 2020 Highlander in four trims, LE, XLE, Limited and the top-of line Platinum. Toyota says that the LE grade comes standard with a second-row bench for seating for eight, while the XLE and Limited grade come standard with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven and the option of a second-row bench for seating for eight. Finally, the Platinum grade will come standard with a Captain’s Chair second row with seating for seven. With all seats upright, Highlander offers 16.0 cu. ft. of carrying space behind the third row. Folding the 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seatbacks increases the cargo volume to 48.4 cu. ft. Folding both rear rows raises that cargo volume to 84.3 cu. ft. The battery pack for the hybrid drive does not impact cargo or passenger volume.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Drivetrain
Toyota's new-generation Toyota Hybrid System in the 2020 Highlander Hybrid combines a 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder gasoline engine with two electric motors. Toyota says this new system is more compact and more efficient than before. The gas engine employs such advanced technology as a Variable Valve Timing-intelligent system by Electric motor (VVT-iE) on the intake camshaft, VVT-i on the exhaust camshaft, a variable cooling system (electric water pump, electric thermostat), and a fully variable oil pump further improve engine efficiency.

Unlike in past models, the new Highlander has optional AWD. It is not standard. Total power is a whopping 243 total system horsepower and fuel efficiency is up from 29 MPG max to up to a Toyota-estimated 36 combined MPG. That is a 24% increase in MPG. AWD models use a system that has no mechanical connection between the front and rear drive motors.
Highlander infotainment2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - Infotainment
The 2020 Highlander Hybrid comes standard with Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Alexa In-Car compatibility, Waze, SiriusXM capability, and Wi-Fi connectivity. All Highlander Hybrid models come equipped with Toyota Safety Connect with a one-year trial subscription as well as Service and Remote Connectivity. A move up to XLE or Limited grade adds available Dynamic Navigation. The Platinum grade offers standard Dynamic Navigation and the 12.3-inch screen.

Toyota's well-known JBL Premium Audio System is standard for Limited and Platinum grades and rocks with 1.2kW of power playing through 11 speakers in nine locations. Clari-Fi technology breathes new life into compressed digital music formats like SatRad and MP3 formats.
highlander prices2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Prices
The 2020 Highlander Hybrid starts at around $40K and will rise to the low $50Ks.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Warranty and Included Maintenence
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. An additional 60-month warranty covers the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against perforation from corrosion for 60 months with no mileage limitation. Highlander's Hybrid-related components that require repairs needed to correct defects in materials or workmanship are covered for 8 years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first from the original date of first use when sold as new. The HV battery is covered for 10 years/150,000 miles, whichever comes first, and is transferrable across the ownership of the vehicle. ToyotaCare includes two years of no-cost maintenance up to the first 25K miles and also adds roadside service during this period.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and connect with him at Linkedin.

*Note: Images are of an XLE non-hybrid trim.

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DeanMcManis (not verified)    December 19, 2019 - 12:54AM

A friend of mine just bought a 2018 Hylander used (gas only) and it is a really nice vehicle. It is nice that they are evolving the model, but I really hope that they come out with a plug-in hybrid Hylander Prime model soon, following the RAV4 Prime, which is due next year. Toyota's frustratingly conservative nature has them slow to release PHEV and BEV models, but their smart approach to offering hybrid versions of many of their models still puts them ahead of many of their competitors.