Three Important Changes to 2017 Highlander Just Announced by Toyota
Set to debut at next week's New York Auto Show, the Highlander also gains a freshened appearance to wrap around all that new hardware, as well as a sport-minded SE model and an expanded range of Hybrid trims.
Toyota has yet to provide any figures for the new direct-injection drivetrain, but claims that the new combo will "generate significantly more horsepower, provide enhanced fuel efficiency, and deliver a more direct driving feel by expanding the lock up range". The Highlander Hybrid adds two new grades, (LE and XLE) to its existing lineup of Limited and Platinum models for a total of four. Together these changes should help keep Highlander at the top of the sales charts. Outside, the SE has a dark-silver lower grille and headlamp surrounds, dark-silver roof rails, and 19-inch wheels specific to the model.
Inside, the Highlander SE gets black leather-trimmed seats with silver contrast stitching and patterned inserts, that match similar inserts on the dashboard and doors. Naturally, there's a new grille-with different finishes for the many different trim levels-but the bigger news is what's behind it: a new, direct-injected V-6 backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. In an effort to help conserve fuel, Highlander V6 models (excluding LE) will come standard with a new Stop and Start Engine System (S&S).
As before, the Highlander's base engine will continue to be Toyota's 2.7-liter four-cylinder matched to a six-speed automatic.
The latest recipient of this slow-and-steady R&D strategy is the 2017 Highlander crossover SUV, which is only just now receiving a direct-injected engine, a high-gear-count automatic transmission, stop/start and advanced active safety tech. Seating for seven or eight passengers is available with the premium Limited and Limited Platinum.
A bundle of safety equipment will be standard: forward-collision warning (with pedestrian detection), automatic pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams. With a 360-degree view of the area around the vehicle, the system also assists the driver during parallel parking as well as pulling in and out of a parking spot. The 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid's powertrain is unchanged, consisting of a 231-hp V-6 engine, a 68-hp electric drive motor, and a continuously variable transmission, with all-wheel drive as standard.