Press Preview: 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum

I sat inside a rolling concert hall this week.  It’s been a long time since I heard a stereo this good, and Mariah Carey came through in such crystal clarity that I ran the volume knob all the way to its max setting.

Toyota invited me and some of the other Phoenix-area journalists to a media event on Wednesday to showcase its latest in technology with its three-row Highlander crossover.  The segment in which the Highlander competes is massive in size, with 24 vehicles competing for the same pie.  Highlander comprises 9% of that pie with its annual 228,000 units sold, and with this new iteration, Toyota is hoping to grow that number.

We heard from product expert Dave Lee as he walked us through a series of slides about what’s new and exciting about the Highlander.  The biggest news is powertrain-related, with a hybrid system offered that provides best-in-class fuel economy (topping out at an impressive 36 mpg) and a massive range of 600 miles per tank.  Dave explained how the Highlander’s “PED” (Predictive Efficient Drive) system tracks driving habits and terrains to optimize efficiency of the hybrid + gas combination.

Inside the cabin, there’s more to be seen from a technology perspective, with a massive 12.3″ touch-screen monitor.  It seems all manufacturers today are of the “bigger is better” mindset, and Highlander fits right in.  The only problem I observed is the screen’s susceptibility to greasy fingerprints.  The Highlander comes with driver-assist tech like front & rear parking assist cameras and a digital rearview camera (which can be toggled to ‘regular’).  There are five USB ports and three zones of climate control.

Perhaps one of the most compelling things about the Highlander is its innovative color-naming convention.  This model has an exterior in “Ruby Flare Pearl” and an interior in “Glazed Caramel.”  Seriously.  Makes me hungry.

With a variety of trim levels available, the Highlander can be equipped with an MSRP from the $30s up to pushing $50k.  As a plush family hauler with the latest in modern tech, it’s going to give its 23 competing classmates a run for their money.  Thanks to Toyota for the preview & test drive!

14 Responses to “Press Preview: 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum”

  1. Pretty nice family truckster! Are you deaf after having the stereo on blast? See you this afternoon!

    • Great to see you guys yesterday! By the time you read this, you’ll be somewhere on the beautiful Coronado Trail a few hours east of me! Thankfully my hearing survived the Mariah Carey performance.

  2. Hello Tyson. Do any of your cars have Sirrius XM Satellite radio? My 2005 Acura TSX came with it from the factory. I still have a subscription. It is one of my favorite things about the car. Makes road trips AWESOME!

  3. It wasn’t too long ago that every car had a radio and 2 speakers. Now some Lincolns have 34 speakers! The TL has 7speakers and a fairly high quality system.

  4. Cool write-up. How big did it feel during the test drive? Boat-like or manageable?

    • Right off the bat it felt big, but after a few miles I was comfortable zipping around. I think it’s a nice smaller alternative to some other monster 3-rowers like the Suburban. I’d be curious to look at actual dimensions.

  5. Chris Miller Says:

    We gave these a long look last year (since we love our Sequoia) before buying the MDX and they were a little too vanilla for us and we couldn’t find any ‘16s or ‘17s with rear entertainment installed. I don’t recall finding any with an OEM entertainment setup.

  6. Drizzle some of that Carmel this way!

  7. Are you OK? Over 2 weeks without a post, I need my drivetofive fix and get worried when you’re not around.

    • All is well! Maybe I’ll put something together in the next couple of weeks. I haven’t had any travels of particular note. I’ve just been working on car projects in my downtime (my YouTube channel has a couple of fresh features, and more on the way). Thanks for the nudge!

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