Sporty SE Trim and New Transmission Up Highlander's Game
Toyota has updated its midsize three-row family-friendly crossover for the 2017 model year. The 2017 Toyota Highlander, which will be officially revealed at the 2016 New York Auto Show, gets refreshed exterior and interior styling, revised powertrains, and more active safety tech. Toyota has also added a new sporty SE model with visual and suspension upgrades.
Up front, it’s hard to ignore the 2017 Highlander’s new mug, which features more prominent upper and lower grilles with different finishes depending on trim level. Lower trim levels, including the base LE, LE Plus, and XLE, feature a silver painted finish on the front grilles, while higher-spec Limited and Limited Platinum models feature a chrome finish, which carries over to the headlight housings, as well.
Around back, all models gain revised taillight graphics, while Limited and Platinum variants feature a chrome strip on the rear bumper. Celestial Silver Metallic and Toasted Walnut Pearl are new exterior colors available on all trims, andSalsa Red Pearl is exclusive to the new SE trim.
Inside, the 2017 Toyota Highlander Limited Platinum will be available with a new brown leather interior option. Toyota has also added four more USB ports (five total) for more mobile device charging. Limited and Limited Platinum grades are available with second-row captain’s chairs for seven-passenger seating or witha second-row bench for eight-passenger seating.
Slotting between XLE and Limited models, the new sporty SE trim level steps up to unique 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and dark paint on the front grilles, headlight housings, and roof rails. Inside, the 2017 Highlander SE features exclusive black leather-trimmed seats with silver stitching and seat inserts, matching sash and door inserts, and a black front tray.
Behind the new face sits an available and new 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 engine mated exclusively to a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Although power figures for the new direct-injected V-6 haven’t been revealed, Toyota says it “will generate significantly more horsepower” than the current model’s 270-hp, 248 lb-ft 3.5-liter V-6. With the exception of the base LE model, all Highlander models with the available V-6 will feature an engine stop-start system to help reduce fuel consumption.
The new engine and transmission combo, which is available on all trim levels, is also said to return better fuel economy than the current V-6 and six-speed auto combo, which is EPA-rated 19/25/21 mpg (12.4/9.4/11.2 L/100km) city/highway/combined in front-drive form and 18/24/20 mpg (13.1/9.8/11.8 L/100km) with the available all-wheel-drive.
The new direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine will also be used on all 2017 Highlander Hybrid models, though it will be mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for hybrid duty. For 2017, LE and XLE trim levels join the Limited and Limited Platinum as available trims on Highlander Hybrid models.
Additionally, the new V-6 and eight-speed auto combo will be used in the 2017 Toyota Sienna minivan. Although the new 3.5-liter V-6 is available for all trim levels, the base Highlander 4×2 LE will come with the carry-over 2.7-liter (185 hp, 184 lb-ft) I-4 and six-speed auto as standard.
Standard safety equipment includes the Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS), which includes Pre-Collision System (with Forward Collision Warning and automatic emergency brake), Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beams, Pedestrian Pre-Collision System, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. The systems use various cameras and sensors to scan for potential hazard and warn the driver with audible and visual alerts to help prevent or reduce the impact of a collision. In certain instances, such as the Pedestrian Pre-Collision System, the vehicle can automatically apply the vehicle brakes.
For 2017, Highlander XLE models gain a standard blind spot monitor system, while Highlander Limited Platinum models gain a Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan as standard. With a 360-degree view of the area around the vehicle, the system also assists the driver during parallel parking as well as pulling in and out of a parking spot.
Expect the revised 2017 Toyota Highlander and Highlander Hybrid models to hit dealer lots this fall.