Three Important Changes to 2017 Highlander Just Announced by Toyota

Three Important Changes to 2017 Highlander Just Announced by Toyota

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.

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