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Small Engine, Big Surprise: The 2023 Toyota Highlander's Speed Defies Expectations and Delights Owners

After a few prospective owners became a little circumspective about the 2023 Toyota Highlander’s turbo 4cyl engine, current owners are saying they don’t feel much of a difference in power for every day driving.


The new 2023 Toyota Highlander boasts great looks, a futuristic design, great driver experience, and a comfortable cabin for its occupants. For a family of 5, it’s the perfect SUV. While it may look a little smaller in size than the last generation of Highlander, the 2023 Toyota Highlander offers a very spacious cabin with room for a little luggage if you fold up the back seat. Other than that, owners are happy with the overall experience they get from the new 2023 Toyota Highlander.

However, Toyota recently got rid of the v6 engine in all their other Highlanders and decided to go with a turbo 4cyl. Now you may be wondering if a turbo 4cyl can really power a modern SUV filled with 5 people and some things in the trunk. The answer is yes. The owner said that they do not feel much of a difference in power when they switch from the v6 to the 4cyl turbo. The only thing is a little loss in torque but that’s almost all turbo vehicles.

A prospective buyer asked whether or not people actually feel a difference between the v6 and 4cyl turbo on a Facebook group and it turns out people like it more than the v6. Robert Normand said, “We just got a 23. Not sure about all that turbo lag stuff people are talking about. It drives, rides and accelerates mighty fine.”

Let’s take a look at the numbers to see just how much better or off the new engine is. I’ll compare the 2023 Toyota Highlander to the 2019 Highlander. For the top trim of the 2019 Toyota Highlander, the v6 motor was making at most 295 hp with 263 ft lbs. of torque. The 2023 Toyota Highlander makes 265 hp with 310 ft lbs. of torque. So in theory, the 2023 Highlander may be slower and less powerful by a small fraction compared to the 2019 v6 model but it has a lot more torque which in my mind should make up for that lost power.

Despite Small Engine, Owners Say 2023 Toyota Highlander Feels “Quick”

This is considered more efficient than the v6 because it can accelerate pretty quickly when merging onto the freeway, it can tow a small trailer, etc. So if we take a look at it from a logical perspective, the 2023 Toyota Highlander has a bit of a better stance when it comes to acceleration. However if you are like any other sensible car shopper, you are probably thinking long terms. The Toyota v6 may be a gas guzzling engine, but one thing you can count on is reliability. Toyota has done a really good job throughout the years with v6 engines. From older RAV4s to older Highlanders and even Tacoma’s, the v6 has been seen as a very reliable engine.

In short, If you are really set on buying the 2023 Toyota Highlander, then by all means go ahead. It’s a great SUV and has so far served its drivers well. However if you really want to keep the v6, go for a 2019 model year, it’s the last year Toyota made the highlander with a v6. Just expect a lot of gas to be spent. \

What do you think? How do you feel about the 4cyl turbo? Let us know in the comments below.

Harutiun Hareyan is reporting Toyota news at Torque News. His automotive interests and vast experience test-riding new cars give his stories a sense of authenticity and unique insights. Follow Harutiun on Twitter at @HareyanHarutiun and on YouTube at Toyota Time for daily Toyota news.