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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Toyota Highlander

More athletic, or more of the same?

More athletic, or more of the same?

The Toyota Highlander has reinvented itself yet again. Not only does it move to a brand new architecture that promises better ride quality, but it also grows in size and adopts a new design. As Toyota looks to expand the Highlander’s customer base to include young, active buyers and empty-nesters, it is important that the new design hits the right notes. Will the look lure in a wider range of buyers without alienating the model’s current fan base? Before you make up your mind, let’s examine the design changes.

We think it’s fair to say that the 2020 Toyota Highlander gets a softer look, at least up front. On the old model, the grille was made up of thick horizontal slats that dominated the entire front fascia. Now, the Highlander’s grille is much more contained, with the upper section receiving a geometric lattice design. Lower grades get silver trim around the black grille, while Limited and Premium models receive chrome accents.

The headlights no longer connect to the grille, and when compared to the lights on the old model, they look like slivers. The Toyota logo appears inside a trim element that resembles a wing, almost as if it were taking a cue from Buick. Also look for simulated skidplates. There are new creases in the hood, and new cut lines.

Looking at the side profile, you can see Toyota is trying to make the doors a little more interesting. A new character line starts off low on the front door, rising sharply up the rear door and connecting to the taillights. There is also more drama to the window lines, which enhance the effect of a sloping roofline. The wheel arches are slightly squared-off like before, but little body cladding adorns the variants of the new Highlander we’ve seen so far. If you were wondering, the Highlander has grown 2.4 inches in length and in its wheelbase, and the crossover is also slightly wider than before. Twenty-inch wheels are now available, but on upper trims only.

As is the industry trend right now, the taillights have become slimmer. In the rear, the Highlander gets a more streamlined look with no clunky body-colored bar setting off the Toyota logo. Creases are mostly limited to the side of the vehicles, including a thick crease that forms out of each of the taillights. “Highlander” lettering is still relegated to the left corner of the vehicle.

Inside the cabin, you’ll find more amenities. Interior ambient lighting and a 12.3-inch touchscreen are some of the new available features. Beyond the expanded list of amenities, the Highlander looks a little more modern with the screen perched on top of the dash rather than embedded inside. There is still a shelf to place your phone right below the infotainment screen, but it no longer stretches as far. There are now two separate shelves, one under the screen and one on the passenger’s side.

Do you think the 2020 Toyota Highlander is refreshing or revolting? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.