2017 Toyota Highlander

The automobile industry is very dynamic. Due to the rapidly
changing technology, vehicle designs and technologies change
very fast. Unless an automaker is on the lookout, models can
easily become “old school” even before they launch them. The
Toyota Highlander when launched was a very impressive model in
the mid-size crossover SUV segment.

However, a few years later the model was overtaken by the likes
of Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer. In a bid to revive the model,
Toyota has decided to revamp the Highlander. Read along to find
out the new changes Toyota has equipped the Highlander with:

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2017 Toyota Highlander Exterior

The Highlander lineup gets one more member for 2017. The
automaker has added the SE trim which will fall between the XLE
and Limited trims. The SE joins the above two trims as well as
the base LE and LE Plus trims and the range-topping Limited
Platinum trim.

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Most of the new changes for the 5-door SUV are visual.  To
start with, the front gets a new grille adopted from Lexus
(Toyota’s luxury brand).  The trims are differentiated by
the colors of their grilles. The lower LE, LE Plus and XLE
trims feature a silver paint finish. On the other hand, the top
Limited and Limited Platinum trims feature a chrome finish. The
upper part of the grille has the Toyota logo at the center. The
grille is flanked by LED headlights whose housings feature the
same color as the grille. The headlight housings also feature
LED DRLs below the main lights. The front bumper has also been
redesigned and is integrated with fog lamps.

The rear features new taillight housings, LED taillights and a
redesigned tailgate. The top trims have a chromed strip on
their rear bumpers. Except the SE trim which rides on 19-inch
alloy wheels, all other trims get 18-inch alloy wheels.

The new SE trim features a dark-colored grille. The dark color
trim extends on the headlights housings and roof rails. The
trim also features a sport-tuned suspension. The new models
will be offered with two additional colors which are Celestial
Silver Metallic and Toasted Walnut Pearl. The SE trim is
offered in an Exclusive Salsa Red Pearl though it can also be
had in other colors.

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2017 Toyota Highlander Interior

The cabin of 2017 Toyota Highlander has been updated to offer
more comfort and convenience. While lower trims feature quality
cloth upholstery, top trims feature a premium leather trim.
Buyers can choose either captain seats for their second rows or
the regular bench seats. Depending on the selection, the cabin
accommodates either 7 or 8 passengers. Al passengers will enjoy
plenty of head and leg room.

The SUV comes equipped with an 8.0-inch infotainment system.
The system provides various connectivity features such as
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Smartphone integration through Android
Auto and Apple CarPlay. For entertainment, the Highlander comes
with a 6-speaker sound system that features an FM/AM radio, HD
radio, satellite radio and a CD/DVD player. Unlike the previous
model’s single USB port, the new Highlander features 5 USB
ports and a tri-zone climate control system.

The SE features a black leather interior trim that
differentiates it from other models. The black color trim is
also featured on the seats. The vehicle also features a silver
stitching on the seats, door inserts and seat inserts. Another
differentiating feature is its black-colored tray at the front.

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For safety, the SUV is adequately equipped and features the
automaker’s Safety Sense P suite which packs lane-departure
warning, pre-collision warning with automatic braking assist
and adaptive cruise control.

Available safety options include a pre-collision warning that
integrates radar and cameras that detect objects and
pedestrians in front and then warns the driver or automatically
apply brakes. Blind-spot monitoring is standard on the XLE
trim. The top Limited Platinum trim adds a 360-degree view
camera.

Engine Specs and performance

During the launch, the automaker revealed that the 2017 Toyota
Highlander will be powered by three different engines. Powering
the base LE trim is a 2.7 L 4-cylinder engine which is carried
over from the outgoing version. This engine is rated at 185 hp.
For more juice, the Highlander features a new 3.5 L V-6 engine
which the automaker says will produce around 300 hp.  The
engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that
propels the front wheels. All other highlanders are AWD.

Though Toyota says this is a new engine, it is only a better
tuned version of the unit that drives the current models. New
for 2017, the engine features direct injection and a start/stop
technology which helps the model attain a better performance
and an improved fuel economy. The engine will be paired with a
newly developed 8-speed automatic transmission system

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The third drive-train is a hybrid system. The new hybrid
Highlanders will be offered in LE, XLE, Limited and Limited
Platinum trims (the outgoing model was only offered in Limited
and Limited Platinum trims). The engine combines the 3.5 L
gasoline engine that powers conventional models and an
impressive electric motor. The hybrid system will be mated to a
CVT system that drives all wheels.

Price and release date

The automaker is still keeping price details close to its
chest. These details will suffice when the model nears its
on-sale date. However, I don’t expect a significant increment
from the current model’s prices.

The release date is anticipated in the second part of 2016
while the estimated starting price of the model with the basic
trim level around $ 31,000.

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Competition

Competition is very stiff in this segment due to declining fuel
prices. The new 2017 Toyota Highlander will face competition
from the likes of GMC Acadia,
Mazda
CX-9, Nissan
Armada, Honda
Pilot and Ford
Explorer.