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2023 Toyota Highlander Swaps V-6 Power for Turbo Torque, Tech Upgrades

2023_Toyota_Highlander_Turbo_002-scaled 2023 Toyota Highlander | Manufacturer image

The Toyota Highlander remains a popular family hauler, finishing second in mid-size SUV sales in the first quarter of 2022, only trailing the Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2023, the three-row SUV gets a new four-cylinder engine that brings more torque but less horsepower than the outgoing Highlander’s standard V-6. The new model year also brings a handful of tech and convenience improvements, including larger screens, wireless phone connectivity and a repositioned wireless charger.

Related: Toyota Highlander: Which Should You Buy, 2021 or 2022?

New Turbo Engine for Gas-Powered Models

2023_Toyota_Highlander_Turbo_003-scaled 2023 Toyota Highlander turbo engine | Manufacturer image

Shoppers deciding between the current 2022 Highlander and the upcoming 2023 model will find one major change for the gas-powered variant: A new 265-hp, 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine — shared with the 2022 Lexus NX 350 — replaces the 2022 Highlander’s 295-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. Although power output is down, the turbo engine makes 309 pounds-feet of torque, an increase of 17% compared to the outgoing V-6’s 263 pounds-feet. Like the V-6, the turbo four-cylinder will also come with a standard stop-start system.

toyota-highlander-2020-25-exterior-blue-front-angle.jpg 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid | Cars.com photo by Kelsey Mays

The 2023 Highlander Hybrid will once again be powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a total of 243 hp. Both gas- and hybrid-powered models come with standard front- or all-wheel drive, with higher trims offering a more advanced dynamic torque-vectoring AWD system.

Towing capacity and fuel efficiency are expected to remain unchanged with the new turbo engine: The gas-only 2022 Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds and gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg combined. The Highlander Hybrid gets a significant efficiency advantage compared to the Highlander with up to 36 mpg, according to EPA ratings, but its towing capacity drops to 3,500 pounds.

New Tech Features, Larger Screens

2023_Toyota_Highlander_Turbo_007-scaled 2023 Toyota Highlander | Manufacturer image

The 2023 Highlander will feature Toyota’s new Audio Multimedia system that adds dual Bluetooth connectivity and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The Highlander’s top two trims — the Limited and Platinum — will come with dual 12.3-inch information display screens, with one screen replacing the 2022 models’ 7-inch digital instrument cluster. The 12.3-inch display will be optional on the 2023 Highlander XLE and XSE, which both come with a standard 8-inch screen.

For the 2022 Highlander, a 12.3-inch center touchscreen comes standard on the range-topping Platinum trim, optional on the Limited and not available for lower trims, which get a downsized 8-inch screen.

Convenience Improvements

Convenience features are also expanded for the 2023 Highlander. A hands-free power liftgate was previously offered only for the Limited and Platinum trims but will now be added for the XLE and XSE. The Limited and Platinum also add standard power-folding mirrors, and all trims see a repositioned wireless charger that moves from the center console to the instrument panel shelf.

Price and Release Date

The 2023 Toyota Highlander will go on sale this Fall, and pricing will be announced closer to its arrival. The 2022 gas-powered Highlander has a starting price of $37,070 (all prices include destination charge) and the Highlander Hybrid starts at $40,770.

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