With the recent launches of the Volkswagen Atlas and Kia Telluride, consumers have more options than ever in the three-row family crossover SUV category. But one of the best surprises of the year is the redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander. The new model comes back into the mix with significant changes that will continue to make it a top choice in the class. The fourth-generation Highlander rides on a new platform that improves agility and ride quality. Dimensionally, the vehicle is 2.4-inches longer than in the past which was geared toward extending the cargo area and added legroom to the third-row. The 2020 Highlander has also added a more sculpted exterior to have a modern and sleek design. Read on to learn more.

The base engine is a 295hp 3.5L V6 which couples well with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel or all-wheel-drive. As with the past models, the Highlander will offer a hybrid powertrain consisting of two electric motors and a 2.5L four-cylinder engine to generate 240hp. The hybrid models are also equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission in front- or all-wheel-drive. The fuel economy is aligned with other vehicles in this class at a combined 22 mpg city/highway. The all-wheel-drive option receives an update with the base system equally splitting the engine torque from the front and rear wheels. The more advanced system found on upper-level trims allows the driver to fine-tune the amount of power based on traction modes (mud, sand, and dirty).

The 2020 Highlander has received an interior makeover to flow with the new exterior styling. The Base L and mid-range LE models seat eight passengers on bench seating in the back two rows. On higher trims, second-row captain's chairs are available allowing for a seven-seat arrangement. The base model also offers an 8-inch infotainment system preloaded with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The higher trims will receive a 12.3-inch display, 11-speaker JBL audio system, and onboard Wi-Fi. The base trims have cloth upholstery but the higher-level models, starting with the XLE, get simulated leather with leather being available on the best trims. On all models, the quality of the interior materials is high and the new design skews more toward practical than luxe in a positive manner.

The 2020 Highlander is a vehicle that aims to take the family drive to the next level without sacrificing safety. As a result, Toyota has packed this SUV with amazing safety features, especially regarding active technologies. The passive safety features include the incredibly durable and robust body of the SUV and the advanced airbag system. The extensive active safety complements the passive systems and falls within the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite which includes, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System, Lander Departure Notification with Steering Assist, and Pedestrian Detection, to name a few. Each of these systems uses cameras and sensors to provide visual or audible warnings of an object, vehicle, or human within range of the SUV to protect the driver, passenger, and pedestrian.

With the base model starting around $34,000, the 2020 Highlander will be offered in five trims: L, LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum. The exterior detailing varies with the trim level with the L, LE, and XLE models highlighting a black grille with silver trim, a chrome-plated rear fascia, and unique projector-beam headlamps alongside the 20-inch wheels. The seating configurations also vary with the L and LE models have second-row bench seating for eight, the XLE and Limited carrying seven, due to the second-row captain's seats. All rows feature tri-zone climate control and this model offers the Toyota New Generation Architecture-K underpinning which uses high-strength steel for a stiffer body. The Limited option adds 20-inch wheels, ambient interior lighting, driver's seat memory, power liftgate perforated leather trim, wood interior, and embedded navigation. The Platinum version offers a 12.3-inch touchscreen, adaptive headlamps, leather seating, digital display rearview, heads-up display, bird's-eye camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a panoramic moonroof.