2023 Toyota Highlander Goes Turbo, Packs 265 HP And New Tech
The Toyota Highlander has been the best-selling midsize crossover in the United States for six consecutive years and it’s getting a significant update for 2023.
The biggest change occurs under the hood as the 3.5-liter V6 engine has been replaced by a new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder. It produces 265 hp (198 kW / 269 PS) and 309 lb-ft (418 Nm) of torque, which is a loss of 30 hp (22 kW / 30 PS) but a gain of 46 lb-ft (62 Nm).
That sounds like a mixed bag and the situation is further complicated by a combined fuel economy rating that is expected to remain at 24 mpg. This is somewhat surprising, but Toyota said the four-cylinder is more environmentally friendly as it offers “more than a 50% reduction in NOx and NMOG [emissions] as well as an improvement in CO2 emissions compared to the outgoing V6 engine.”
Of course, environmentally conscious consumers will likely opt for the familiar Highlander Hybrid. It features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, which enable the crossover to have a combined output of 243 hp (181 kW / 246 PS) and an estimated fuel economy rating of 36 mpg combined.
A Familiar, But Techier, Interior
Moving into the cabin, Limited and Platinum trims now come equipped with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that replaces the previous analog gauges and 7-inch display. Toyota didn’t say much about it, but the digital instrument cluster offers some degree of personalization as there will be four different display modes known as Casual, Smart, Tough and Sporty.
The higher-end trims also benefit from a new 12.3-inch infotainment system, which will also be available as an option on the mid-level XLE and XSE that come standard with an 8-inch display. Speaking of screens, the entry-level Highlander L and LE trade their tiny 4.2-inch multi-information display for a larger 7-inch setup.
Getting back to the infotainment system, all 2023 Highlanders are equipped with the Toyota Audio Multimedia system that debuted on the 2022 Tundra. It offers cloud-based navigation, over-the-air updates, and an intelligent assistant that responds to the “Hey Toyota” wake word. The infotainment system also has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as integrated Apple Music and Amazon Music streaming with the available Wi-Fi Connect subscription.
Additional changes are minor, but Limited and Platinum trims gain power folding side mirrors, while the XLE and XSE now come equipped with a hands-free power liftgate. More importantly, the available wireless smartphone charger is no longer hidden in the center console as it moves to the instrument panel shelf, which puts it within easy reach.
Rounding out the highlights are a new Cypress paint job and updated Harvest Beige and Glazed Caramel interiors that trade Noble Brown accents for Black contrasts. Furthermore, the 2023 Highlander XSE gains new 20-inch wheels with a black finish.
The 2023 Toyota Highlander should arrive at U.S. dealerships later this year and we can expect to learn more details closer to launch.