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2020 Toyota Highlander vs 2019 Highlander Comparison with Pictures

The 2020 Highlander has changed a great deal compared to the 2019 version. We have the pictures to prove it in this story comparing the 2020 Toyota Highlander vs 2019 Highlander.

The time has finally arrived. After a year of growing buzz about the release of the 2020 Toyota Highlander, we finally have our chance to see and evaluate it. I am personally very impressed in many ways.

But how does it compare with its predecessor, the 2019 Highlander? I spent the day with both model years, comparing them as best I could. In this case, I worked with the 2019 and 2020 XLE trim levels.

I invite you to follow along with me as I detail key differences. At the end of my analysis, please write down what model year you prefer and why.

Profile of 2020 Highlander XLE vs 2019

Highlander has a new look for 2020 and beyond. This fourth-generation midsize SUV was redesigned while utilizing a new vehicle platform known as Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K). The result is a sophisticated, classy, streamlined look for the 2020 Highlander. It also engineers an improved ride quality that is smooth and quiet, comfortable seating areas for all three rows and enhanced safety and technological improvements.

Profile of 2019 Toyota Highlander XLE in Blizzard Pearl
2019 Toyota Highlander XLE Blizzard Pearl profile view

Profile of 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE in Blueprint
2020 Toyota Highlander XLE Blueprint color profile viewSafety and front-end differences from 2019 to 2020 Highlander

Arguably the biggest safety improvement is the addition of Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) across the board for all 2020 Highlander trim levels.

Original Toyota Safety Sense features include pre-collision system that can detect pedestrians during the daytime, dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beams and lane departure alert with steering assist. These can be found in all 2019 Highlander vehicles.

TSS 2.0 adds in lane tracing assist, road sign assist, pedestrian detection in lower lighting, and bicycle detection during the daytime.

These additions will help reduce the chance for frontal collisions, side collisions and accidents that might happen at night. TSS 2.0 will also drastically lower the opportunity for accidents to occur based on distracted driving. We all know this is the fastest-growing driving risk out there.

You will notice many changes from 2019 Highlander to 2020 Highlander in the front ends. The 2019 Highlander XLE front grille features brushed silver horizontal accents I always found to look luxurious and classy.

In comparison, look for Toyota’s new trapezoidal front grill design with a three-dimensional gloss black look. It reminds me very much of other popular models such as 2020 Tacoma and RAV4. Bright silver outlines and accents stand out on the 2020 Highlander XLE as well. I think potential customers will like this redesigned front end.

What model year looks best in your opinion?

2019 vs 2020 Highlander front ends
2019 Toyota Highlander XLE Blizzard Pearl front end 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE Blueprint front endCompare back ends on Toyota Highlander

Both model years feature LED taillights and stoplights. One feature that would have been nice to keep on the 2020 Highlander is the ability to open the top glass portion of the liftgate. This was useful for 2019 Highlander if someone wanted to open the glass and put in groceries, luggage and sports equipment without having to open the entire liftgate every time. I am not sure how many people actually used this function on their Highlanders, but it would have been nice to keep for some folks.

2020 Toyota Highlander XLE Blueprint back end 2019 Toyota Highlander XLE Blizzard Pearl back end2020 Highlander and 2019 Interior Comparison

Toyota built a 2020 Highlander that is 2.36 inches longer and this enlargement goes to the cargo area. For 2019 models, cargo capacity behind the second row is 42.3 cubic feet and 13.6 cubic feet behind the third row. The 2020 Highlander really enhances its cargo capabilities with 48.4 cubic feet behind the second row and 16.0 cubic feet behind the third row.

Interior styling, of course, has been completely redesigned from 2019 to 2020. To me the new cabin feels cozy and open, and I feel the vibe that it is much more modern and high-tech. Kudos to Toyota for improving the center console. It is 100 times easier to open and it even holds a surprise Qi wireless charging pad in a functional and useful way.

VIDEO: Watch as I compare differences between 2020 and 2019 Highlander in my video review.

Passengers should enjoy the expanded multimedia capabilities in the 2020 Highlander. Useful features are Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa commands and SiriusXM on all grades.

I did notice the leg or thigh support extender button was missing on the 2020 Highlander XLE that is found on 2019 XLE.

2019 Highlander XLE front seats
2019 Toyota Highlander XLE front seats

2020 Highlander XLE front seats
2020 Toyota Highlander XLE front seats harvest beige

2019 Highlander XLE interior
2019 Toyota Highlander XLE interior

2020 Highlander XLE interior
2020 Toyota Highlander XLE interiorTime for your thoughts on 2020 Highlander and 2019 Highlander

As I said, I am impressed with the redesign of this new fourth-generation Highlander, save for a few minor details I mentioned earlier. Just as it was when 2019 RAV4 was launched, most people loved it but some were not so sure about the changes. Now it is the best-selling SUV in the entire country. I feel this will be the same phenomenon with the 2020 Toyota Highlander release.

I encourage you to visit your local dealerships and see this all-new 2020 Highlander for yourself. I will be anxious to hear your thoughts.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: Watch as I detail exterior and interior features of 2020 Highlander Hybrid Limited. Please also subscribe to Torque News YouTube channel for the latest automotive news and analysis.

What do you think of the many changes to the 2020 Highlander? Do you plan to see one in person in the near future?
Thanks for reading everyone. See you next story when I reveal a brand new cleaning feature on the 2020 Highlander.

Bookmark Jeff Teague's Toyota News and Reviews at Torque News Toyota. Please subscribe to Jeff’s “Toyotajeff” YouTube channel for Toyota news, reviews and how-to videos. Follow Jeff on Facebook and Instagram. Find him on Twitter @toyotajeff1 and tweet him tips for new stories. All of Jeff's reports can be found at Toyota Highlander. Check back again and search for Torque News Toyota news for more Toyota news coverage.


LJ (not verified)    April 11, 2020 - 9:48PM

Not having the option of opening the top rear liftgate glass is a real dealbreaker. I can't say how many times this is useful when carrying something long back from home depot