2020 Toyota Highlander Review

2020 Toyota Highlander - Platinum AWD, Price: $48,800


Pros-Redesigned. Roomy. Good performance. Decent handling. Composed ride. Front or All-wheel drive. Safety features.

Cons-Kid-only third row. Tight cargo room with upright third row. Slow touchscreen action.  

Bottom Line-One of top medium-size SUV for families.

The redesigned 2020 Highlander medium-size SUV has enough room, performance, style and economy to satisfy many folks.
This fourth-generation Highlander looks sleeker and comes in a variety of trim levels. They start at $34,600 and end at $48,800 for the top-line Highlander Platinum four-wheel-drive model I tested. You can get front or four-wheel drive and a 295-horsepower V-6 hooked to a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission or a hybrid gas-electric model with 243 horsepower and a CVT transmission.

The 0-60 m.p.h. time with the V-6 is a decent 6.8 seconds and highway performance is strong. A driver can choose three driving modes: Sport, Normal and "Eco." Acceleration off the line is a bit lazy in Normal mode, although it quickly brightens up, and Eco is for the best economy during normal commutes. Sport provides the best driving response, although the Highlander is not supposed to be a sporty vehicle.

Only regular-grade gas is needed. The four-wheel-drive Platinum gets an estimated 27 miles per gallon on the highway and 20 in the city, while the front-drive version does a little better here.

Although bumpy pavement gives the Platinum a somewhat floaty ride, the ride is generally firm and composed. No family member should complain.

There's a bit of lean during cornering, but the steering is nicely geared. There are stability and traction controls, besides a stiffer body structure for better ride and handling. The  brake pedal has a firm, linear action, and the anti-lock brakes bite quickly. That's good because the Highlander weighs from 4,330 to 4,595 pounds. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds with an optional package.

The 194.9-inch-long Highlander has seating for eight, but that drops to seven with the two second-row captain's chairs instead of a second-row bench. The third-row seat, while fairly easy to access, is for two kids and is cramped and claustrophobic.

Despite a longer luggage area, cargo room with the third seat in place is marginal at 16 cubic feet. But fold the third row forward and room increases to 48.4 cubic feet. Fold the second row seats out of the way you get an impressive 84.3 cubic feet. A power tailgate makes loading easier.

The new Highlander-especially the Platinum model-has a revised, generally quiet cabin with high-end materials, nice stitching and a definite upscale look.

Platinum's features include easily read gauges, convenient controls, easily gripped steering wheel, 3-way automatic climate control, 10-way power driver's seat, JBL audio system, bird's-eye camera for a total surround-vehicle outside look and a power panoramic sunroof.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have been added. The only drawback is a touchscreen that's slow to respond and an outdated infotainment system..

This being a family vehicle, safety features include ;otsof air bags, dynamic radar cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, front/rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.

The Highlander has lots of competition, but it's a Toyota so resale value promises to be good.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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