A few months ago, rumors of a new Toyota Grand Highlander started floating on the internet. People got interested and frankly, there were a lot of mixed emotions in the Facebook groups and forums. A trusted Torque News source told us that the Grand Highlander is coming, he just doesn’t know when.
If you might remember the new Venza, people who bought it liked it, and those who didn’t buy it only complained about the price. It was just one of those good cars that didn’t succeed. It has great gas mileage, 3-row seating, and a very stylish look. The Venza didn’t sell well, and people are saying this 3-row Grand Highlander is going to be the next Venza.
On the Toyota Highlander Owner’s Group on Facebook, an old group post from January 18 showed a picture of the now new Sequoia which people then thought was the Grand Highlander. Here’s what some people thought of a 3-row Toyota Grand Highlander.
Group member Ian McKibbin said, “Toyota said in a dealership letter that they messed up with the 2020 highlander and it's too small they didn't think people would mind keeping it that way but weren't expecting every single other 8-seater got bigger.”
According to an article published by Motor1.com’s Jacob Oliva, “Lexus – and apparently Toyota – will be introducing three-row crossovers for their respective lineups: the Lexus TX and the Toyota Grand Highlander.”
So, we now see that Toyota’s mistake turns out to be a best-selling vehicle after all. If Toyota wants to make a compact 8-seater, would they make a hybrid version?
With Toyota’s new I-FORCE MAX drivetrain, which is a twin-turbocharged v6 hybrid pushing out a little over 400 horsepower in the new Sequoia, chances are Toyota will see an opportunity to bring an affordable 8-seater hybrid SUV.
I personally would like to see the 3-row Toyota Grand Highlander as a hybrid. Toyota’s hybrid technology is beyond other automakers and with gas prices off the charts, it’s easy to say prospective SUV buyers would want something economical. Plus, new Toyota hybrids do not sacrifice performance for efficiency. I have to floor my 2012 Prius to get it moving however on these new hybrids, it feels like a regular gas car.
So how will this compete with the Sequoia or Sienna? Well for starters, this will probably be cheaper than a Sequoia which a fully loaded one will be somewhere in the $80,000 ballpark. Hopefully, this new highlander doesn’t go past $45,000 but at the same time, if they make it a hybrid with the Sequoia’s drivetrain, I would pay a few extra bucks for that added gas mileage.
While people seem to have mixed emotions about the 3-seater Toyota Grand Highlander, I think if marketed correctly, it would be a great car and wouldn’t follow Venza’s footsteps. Some people said that the current Highlander had uncomfortable back seats.
On another discussion on the same Facebook group, Armen Hareyan asked a similar question regarding the 3-row Toyota Grand Highlander which Jermaine C. Douglas responded by saying, “I just visited the NY Auto show and checked out all the competition. The Highlander's back seat problem is really the positioning because it’s so low your knees go up.”
Maybe if Toyota addresses this problem with the Grand Highlander, people would want this over other 8-seater SUVs. Some say they don’t want the feeling of driving a bus and others say they want hybrids. I like driving big cars but if it’s not economical, then you start to think of your wallet instead of your driving position.
What do you think? Would you like an 8-seater SUV? Would you buy it if it doesn’t come in a hybrid? Let us know in the comments below.
*The image accompanying this article is not the Grand Highlander, it is a press photo taken by Toyota for their Sequoia teaser. *
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 for daily Toyota news.