Toyota’s love affair with naturally aspirated engines is starting to fade, as now evidenced by the updated Highlander.
For 2023, the popular Japanese midsize SUV replaces the good old 3.5L V6 with a new turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder engine shared with the Lexus NX 350. Output is down from 295 hp to 265 hp, but peak torque jumps from 263 lb-ft. to 310 lb-ft.
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Toyota claims drivers will feel this gain in everyday driving situations, especially when loaded up with passengers and cargo. Additionally, while official fuel consumption ratings have yet to be announced, Toyota anticipates an improvement from 10.3 L/100 km to 9.8 L/100 km, as well as reduced emissions.
Own a boat or camping trailer? Don’t worry: maximum towing capacity is still 5,000 lbs. As for the Highlander Hybrid, it continues to generate 243 hp, achieve a combined 6.7 L/100 km (officially) and tow up to 3,500 lbs.
What Else is New for 2023?
The 2023 Toyota Highlander benefits from a number of additional upgrades. Chief among them is Toyota’s brand new multimedia system, which is more responsive and more user-friendly. It comes with an intelligent voice assistant, several cloud-based features and services, over-the-air software updates and the ability to pair two different phones at once via Bluetooth. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also included.
On Limited and Platinum models, content can now occupy the full 12.3-inch touchscreen, and a second new 12.3-inch display replaces the former 7-inch TFT instrument cluster, with four different visual modes for a personalized touch: Casual, Smart, Tough and Sporty.
An 8-inch touchscreen is standard on every other Highlander. Meanwhile, Toyota moved the Qi-compatible wireless charger from the centre console box to a more convenient location on the instrument panel shelf.
Outside, XLE and XSE models receive a hands-free power liftgate which you can open or close by sweeping a foot under the bumper. The latter now rolls on exclusive all-black 20-inch wheels. A new Cypress body colour is available, while the Hybrid Bronze Edition introduced last year is back.
Canadian pricing for the 2023 Toyota Highlander lineup will be released closer to the start of sales this fall.