On Thursday, Toyota announced its popular Highlander SUV family will be expanding in a big way, literally. The Japanese automaker confirmed that in 2023 it’s adding a new Grand Highlander model to the lineup, ostensibly a stretched and therefore more spacious version of the standard Highlander.
Aside from a skimpy press release that doesn’t do much beyond confirm this new utility vehicle’s name and mention that it will have three rows of seats, Toyota also shared a teaser image. This shadowy picture gives us a glimpse of the Grand Highlander’s rear end, though there’s not much to see. We can make out the taillights, which could have somewhat of a two-line motif to them, similar to what luxury automaker Genesis is doing; “Grand Highlander” is spelled out across the back in blocky letters like we see on other SUVs these days; and most importantly, we can make out a Hybrid Max badge on the lower left corner of the rear hatch.
Of course, Toyota did not share any under-hood details in its media release, but that little insignia suggests the 2023 Grand Highlander will be offered with the same potent powertrain found in the new Crown sedan. The Hybrid Max setup is built around a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine and a couple electric motors, which, together, help deliver 340 horsepower and a walloping 400 pound-feet of torque. With a six-speed automatic transmission thrown into the mix, that’s enough pork and beans to get the elevated Crown four-door to 60 mph in a lickety-split 5.7 seconds. The larger, and likely commensurately heavier Grand Highlander almost certainly won’t be that quick, but vehicles fitted with a Hybrid Max drivetrain are basically guaranteed to be the highest-performing models in the lineup.
Currently, the not-so-grand Highlander is available with a base, 2.4-liter turbo-four that’s good for 265 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. A familiar hybrid drivetrain is also on the menu. With an Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a couple electric motors that, among other things, function as an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission, this drivetrain is good for 243 combined hp and superb fuel economy. This well-mannered hybrid setup is used in a wide array of Toyota models and delivers proven performance and efficiency.
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It’s unclear how much larger the Grand Highlander will be than the current model, but it’s likely the body will be stretched a few inches to increase the cargo capacity. Additional space in third row would sure be nice as well. Compared to rival SUVs, the Highlander’s aft-most bench seat is noticeably short on legroom, and the bottom cushion is practically on the floor, which is far from ideal for comfort. Hopefully the Grand Highlander will be more hospitable, able to comfortable accommodate adult passengers in the third-row seat instead of just kids.
The 2023 Toyota Grand Highlander will be unveiled in all its glory on February 8 ahead of the Chicago Auto Show. The automaker should stream the vehicle’s reveal on its YouTube channel, but come back to EV Pulse for all the details and analysis about this three-row SUV.