2017 Toyota Highlander Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, March 14, 2016
- Updated exterior styling and enhanced interior
- Lineup expands to include SE trim level and more Hybrid variants
- New 3.5-liter V-6 engine with more power and greater efficiency
- New Direct Shift 8-speed automatic standard with V-6
- Standard Toyota Safety Sense suite of technologies
- New Perimeter Scan version of 360-degree camera view system
For 2017, Toyota updates its popular Highlander, a midsize crossover SUV with 3 rows of seats and room for up to 8 passengers.
Continuing from last year, the Highlander LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum trim levels return for 2017. A sporty SE version debuts for 2017, and the Highlander Hybrid lineup expands to include LE and XLE trim in addition to the Limited and Limited Platinum.
The main way to identify the 2017 Highlander is by its new upper and lower grille treatment, new front bumper design, and revised headlights. Around back, new taillights are installed, and the top trim levels have new chrome trim.
For the new 2017 Highlander SE, Toyota finished the grille in dark paint and installs unique 19-in. aluminum wheels.
New colors also debut for 2017, including Celestial Silver, Toasted Walnut, and Salsa Red, the latter available only for the Highlander SE.
American families rejoice! Toyota increases the 2017 Highlander’s USB port count to five. Also, the Limited and Limited Platinum trim levels can be ordered with a second-row bench seat instead of the standard captain’s chairs, and a rich new Brown leather color is available.
Under the Hood
Toyota continues to offer three different powertrains for the Highlander. The base LE version with front-wheel drive returns with the same 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Expect this engine to make 185 horsepower, same as in 2016.
Every other version of the 2017 Highlander (except Hybrid models) is equipped with a new direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a new Direct Shift 8-speed automatic transmission. Toyota also plans to install this engine in the 2017 Sienna minivan, and while the company did not announce official power ratings for this engine in advance of the Highlander’s debut at the 2016 New York Auto Show, it promises more horsepower and better fuel economy than the outgoing 3.5-liter V-6. Automatic engine start/stop technology is included with this engine.
Highlander Hybrid models will also use the new engine, though paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) rather than the new 8-speed automatic.
Toyota engineers also spent some time improving the Highlander’s driving characteristics. Tighter suspension tuning intends to improve the handling.
In order to capitalize on the 2016 Highlander’s structural upgrades, which produce a “Top Safety Pick” crash-test rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Toyota will make its Safety Sense suite of technologies standard equipment for all 2017 Highlanders, which should allow all trim levels to meet stricter “Top Safety Pick+” standards.
Toyota Safety Sense includes adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlights. Additionally, Toyota now includes its blind-spot warning system as standard equipment for the XLE, SE, Limited, and Limited Platinum Highlanders.
In addition to expanding the number of available USB ports aboard the 2017 Highlander, Toyota enhances the surround-view camera system that comes standard on the Limited Platinum. Now equipped with Perimeter Scan technology, the system uses its four cameras to deliver a live, unobstructed, 360-degree view of the SUV’s surroundings.