Written by Marco Carvajal
I am test driving the 2020 FWD Hybrid Highlander Platinum SUV, it is powerful, low emissions efficient, and includes several standard features creating great purchasing value.
The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum is a great mid-size crossover SUV priced around $48K.
Even if the Highlander is not a full-size SUV, its interior is very large compared to other cars in the same mid-size SUV segment. Three rows and seating for seven passengers make the highlander an ideal car for all the family, pets, and friends.
This Hybrid SUV is one of the best versatile three-row crossover SUV with very good size for large families
The 2.5 Liter Hybrid Engine is strong enough producing 186 horsepower and 176 pounds of torque. The efficient eco-friendly hybrid engine has an average fuel economy of 35 MPG, better than many competitors in the segment. Pricing varies from $38K to $48K, giving enough room for your budget and needs. It is not a cheap SUV, but it is affordable and due to the huge amount of features included it is a great value purchase. I like to drive the highlander, onboard this SUV one can enjoy a comfortable and quiet ride with plenty of standard features for all needs.
Buying an SUV from Toyota, one of the largest and most reliable car makers, is a very safe purchase. Toyota’s good warranty with 36-month/36,000 miles with an additional extensive 60-month/60,000 miles warranty for the powertrain, including corrosion with no mileage limitation. Low-cost maintenance and good resell value are some of the incentives to purchase a Toyota SUV like the Highlander.
All hybrid-related components in the Toyota Highlander, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module, and inverter with converter, are covered by a generous long eight years/100,000 miles warranty.
Hybrid components can be very expensive to repair or replace therefore a long warranty is a must when buying a Hybrid automobile.
Fourth Generation Highlander Built on New Platform Global Architecture (TNGA-K)
The new 2020 Toyota Highlander is the Fourth Generation Highlander, it has been redesigned but it keeps many of the features and design typical of the Highlander. Besides many changes, the highlander hasn’t changed much, perhaps due to Toyota’s marketing strategy to keep previous Highlander buyers coming back to buy again newer models and generations, instead of creating a completely new highlander that could be riskier with previous buyers that like the essence of this SUV.
This new Highlander is built on top of a new platform shared with the Toyota Camry and RAV4. The new vehicle platform is called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA-K). The new Highlander version looks stronger and sharper adding elements from Toyota’s same-platform brothers like the RAV4 and Camry.
This strong new platform foundation, enables even greater capability, comfort, and safety than before. This all-terrain SUV is very powerful for those wanting to find a powerful midsize SUV.
Some of the best improvements in the new generation highlander are the increase in a few inches longer size for better cargo capacity, which can be very convenient when using the three rows of seats and needing more cargo space.
2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum Highlights
- Hybrid FWD
- 2.5-Liter L4HV Double Overhead Cam (DOHC) 24-Valve D-4S Injection Atkinson Cycle Engine with Dual VVT-iE (Variable Valve Timing-Intelligent, intake controlled by an electric motor).
- Combined net hp 243, includes combustion engine with 186 hp @ 6000 rpm; 175 lb.-ft. @4400 rpm
- Three Rows of Seats
- 7-passenger seating with heated second-row captain’s chairs
- Best-in-class 12.3-in. touch-screen display
- 10-in. color Head-Up Display (HUD)
- Bird’s Eye View Camera 94 with dynamic gridlines
- JBL Premium Audio with Dynamic Navigation and Clari-Fi
- 12.3-in. touch-screen display, and Android Auto
- Apple CarPlay
- Amazon Alexa compatibility
- LED projector headlights with Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS), auto-leveling, and LED-strip Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Power panoramic view moonroof with sunshade and one-touch open/close with jam protection
- Digital rearview mirror with HomeLink universal transceiver
2020 Hybrid Highlander Models and Pricing
Pricing for the Hybrid Highlander ranges approximately from $38,200 all the way to $48,250 depending on the trim model you wish to purchase.
The 2020 Hybrid Highlander is available in the following four trim models.
The base model LE trim in the Highlander lineup starts at $38K, a very good price for a hybrid mid-size-SUV full of new features. Pricing goes up in the lineup with trims XLE, Limited and finally with the top of the line, the 2020 Hybrid Highlander Platinum model with a higher ticket price at $48K base price.
- Hybrid LE $38,200 Starting MSRP
- Hybrid XLE $41,000 Starting MSRP
- Hybrid Limited $45,050 Starting MSRP
- Hybrid Platinum $48,250 Starting MSRP
I am test driving is the Hybrid Platinum model what is fully loaded with additional features and new technologies, if you can afford a price around 50K, then the Platinum grade is the ideal model to buy.
35 MPG City / 36 MPG Highway
The Highlander Hybrid is a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. Fuel consumption on the Hybrid Highlander is very efficient for a mid-size hybrid SUV. All 2020 Hybrid models have an average fuel economy of 36 MPG City and 35 MPG on the Highway
Test Driving the Platinum Hybrid Highlander
As I drive the highest trim on the Hybrid lineup, the Platinum Hybrid Highlander is the king of the road, handsome, strong, efficient and ready for any adventure. The Highlander Platinum Hybrid is full of additional features, a better screen, premium audio, and the usual off-road great performance.
The new Highlander version Platinum comes standard with a Captain’s Chair in the second row and with seating for seven passengers. It is versatile, the new large rear doors provide easy access and practical seat folding allows for easy access when entering the third row.
Driving this hybrid SUV you can enjoy the great combination of a powerful engine, good brakes, intuitive and precise steering, good handling, and strong towing power on all-terrain conditions, making the Highlander one of the best mid-size SUVs in its class.
The highlander is also one of the most versatile three-row crossover SUVs. The Toyota Highlander is a pioneer in the midsize crossover segment that continues its success thanks to its power for all-terrain, great safety features, and performance. Features like standard three-zone climate control produce a great flow of air through the 3 different rows inside the new 2020 Highlander. Another great bonus from Toyota! Standard premium A/C with separate controls for each of the three passenger zones.
JBL Premium Audio Standard
The JBL Premium Audio System is standard in the Hybrid Platinum model, with a generous 1,200 watts of power playing through eleven high-quality speakers in nine different positions of the mid-size SUV. Clari-Fi technology produces great audio quality to relax and enjoy your favorite song when riding the new 2020 Highlander.
I love the premium audio standard in the Platinum trim, to enjoy the road with high quality sounds of music.
The Highlander is a very safe SUV. Includes standard traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, a front seat cushion passenger airbag. A rearview camera is also standard.
The advanced Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is Standard in all 2020 Highlander Trims. Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 (TSS 2.0) is a bundle of active safety features standard on every 2020 Highlander and 2020 Highlander Hybrid.
This comprehensive active safety system Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 includes:
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD)
- Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
- Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA)
- Automatic High Beam (AHB)
- (New) Lane Tracing Assist (LTA)
- (New) Road Sign Assist (RSA)
- Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection offers automatic braking capability under certain circumstances should the driver not react in time in a system-detected emergency situation.
Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA), Parking Support Braking, and Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) are available in some trim models.
Highlander’s available Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automated Braking can help you park in the most difficult spots. An available Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan provides a 360-degree view around Highlander. LED projector-beam headlights help keep light aimed down at the road for better visibility.
The new TNGA platform powers the Highlander with a stiff frame for a smooth and quiet ride.
History of the Highlander
The first Highlander arrived in 2001 in North America, redefining the midsize family SUV segment. The Highlander became one of the first mid-size crossover off-road vehicles.
Unable to use the Highlander name in Japan and Australia. The Toyota Highlander is also known as the Toyota Kluger in other markets.
The Highlander is the cross counterpart of the most rugged, medium-sized 4Runner, based on a truck, and became Toyota’s best-selling SUV before being overtaken by the smallest RAV4 in 2006.
This crossover still keeps most of its original classic look and features since it was launched back in 2001. The Highlander’s unibody structure with four-wheel independent suspension quickly became the standard format for a new generation of more comfortable and family-friendly SUVs. Other automakers have followed Toyota’s Highlander format producing a large competition for the mid-size SUV segment, always for the benefit of consumers, getting more value and more features for the money.
After adding a third row of seats, the Highlander not only grew in size, but is also now the best-selling retail model in the midsize SUV segment since 2016, but the competition is working hard and new 3-row SUVs are emerging fast. Today in 2020, Toyota has created 4 different generations of Highlander models and the new 4th generation is larger and more stylish than before, ready to compete and sell.
Room for Improvement
The 4th Generation new 2020 is an amazing SUV, but there is always room for improvement.
AWD should be standard on the Platinum trim model. Currently, with the 2020 Highlander Platinum model, FWD is Standard, buyers need to pay an additional 2K to receive AWD. I think that customers who pay for the most expensive trim should receive even more, including AWD.
The third row can be bigger. I can only imagine how hard is to manage all the space and design to have a perfect balance and this is not an easy task for Toyota or any car-manufacturer, but I am sure that buyers will love a bigger 3rd row. It is on my wish list for the new year model.
Warranty and Toyota Care
One of the elements that car buyers should consider when buying a Toyota is confidence and trust in the brand. Toyota offers a very good warranty that motivates repeated customers. Toyota’s basic new-vehicle warranty covers 36-month/36,000 miles and applies to all components, except for normal wear and maintenance components. Then an additional extensive 60-month warranty covers the powertrain for 60,000 miles, and also covers against corrosion with no mileage limitation.
All hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module, and inverter with converter, are covered by a long eight years/100,000 miles warranty.
All 2019 Highlander Hybrid models come standard with a complimentary ToyotaCare plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.
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