What’s better than a canyon? That’s right, the Grand Canyon. How could you settle for a run-of-the-mill tour when you could instead go on a grand tour? Why drive a standard Highlander when Toyota is set to introduce the new Grand Highlander? Ahead of this upsized SUV’s unveiling on Feb. 8 in conjunction with the Chicago Auto Show, the Japanese automaker released another teaser photo of this vehicle, one that highlights the improved third-row seat.
Indeed, the 2024 Grand Highlander emphasizes interior room in a big way. Aside from that supersized row of seats, which Toyota describes as being adult-sized, not just a cramped space reserved for children, this vehicle should also offer plenty of room for packages and parcels. The automaker claims the Grand Highlander has enough cargo room to hold seven pieces of luggage in the back, though it’s unclear if that’s with the third-row seat up or down, and of course we have no idea how large those suitcases are.
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Minor details aside, the standard Highlander is already a solid, well-respected SUV and the grandest version of all should be even better. Toyota bills this stretched 2024 model as “the ultimate road-trip vehicle” because of its added space and grown-up-friendly third row, but fuel efficiency should also make this a great long-distance cruiser.
We don’t have any official details, but the new Grand Highlander is expected to offer a version of Toyota’s Hybrid Max powertrain as evinced by the teaser photo release by the company last December. A Hybrid Max badge can be seen on the rear corner of the vehicle’s liftgate.
In the Crown sedan, this arrangement consists of a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a couple electric motors, which, together, help deliver 340 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Throw a six-speed automatic transmission into the mix and you have a drivetrain that can propel Toyota’s elevated four-door to 60 mph in a legitimately quick 5.7 seconds. Of course, the bulkier Grand Highlander will probably be a few ticks slower than that, but even if this vehicle is two seconds off that pace it’s still a more-than-respectable performance.
It’s likely the Grand Highlander will also be offered with Toyota’s more conventional hybrid powertrain, one that cranks out around 243 hp and is centered around a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine. In other vehicle applications, like the Sienna minivan, this setup delivers good performance and excellent fuel economy.
Of course, this new SUV may also be made available with a non-hybrid drivetrain, namely Toyota’s 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. In the not-so-Grand Highlander this little dynamo delivers 265 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, and is matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
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As automakers go, Toyota is incredibly cautious. It almost always slowly iterates when introducing new vehicles, building off existing models and using existing hardware it already has in production. Accordingly, we expect no earth-shattering news with the 2024 Grand Highlander, and that is not a bad thing. The Capital T has built its decades-long reputation for quality by selling vehicle that withstand the test of time. A cautions, conservative approach is how you achieve that.