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2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Platinum review: Stretch your legs

When shopping for a vehicle, it’s important to consider a constellation of factors. Driver aids and crash test scores, efficiency, cargo space and technology should all be considered, but with the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander there is a single, overarching reason to purchase one of these SUVs: the commodious third-row seat.

Of course, there are myriad other great reasons to buy one of these vehicles, too, from the powerful and reasonably economical Hybrid Max drivetrain to the premium interior to the attractive styling, but that rearmost bench is right up there near the top of the list.

Engineers pulled off a comfort coup with this Toyota, stuffing an adult-friendly third row into a manageably sized SUV, though no sorcery or magical incantations were required to achieve this, they simply increased the width slightly, extended the body by 6.5 inches and stretched wheelbase 4 inches.

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WOW, look at all that room! Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Regardless, grown-ups will appreciate the sit-up-straight amounts of noggin space and surprising legroom, nearly 6 extra inches compared to the conventional Highlander. There are also cup holders, USB ports, grab handles and, when the second-row chairs are tipped and slid forward, a surprisingly wide access pathway to the third-row seat.

Amidships, this Toyota’s heated and ventilated buckets are great, too, possibly more comfortable than the front seats. The cushions are an ideal height above the floor, there’s loads of space, a removable console and passengers also get separate climate controls as well as USB type-C ports.

But it’s not just people, the Grand Highlander excels at hauling cargo, too. There’s just shy of 21 cubic feet of space behind the third-row backrests, enough, Toyota says, to accommodate seven pieces of rollaboard luggage. Aft of the second-row seats you get nearly 58 cubes’ worth of room, and if you fold those down, that figure grows to nearly 98, which is more than the larger Sequoia SUV can muster.

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This is a seriously handsome SUV. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Up front, the Grand Highlander Platinum’s dashboard is stylish, functional and made of surprisingly rich materials. Soft plastics and contrast-color stitching abound, and even the hard polymers are attractively grained.

This vehicle’s chunky, finger-friendly climate controls are mounted high on the center stack where they’re easy to see and reach, which is great for safety. There are also several USB ports, a wireless charging pad and a deep center console that’s ready to swallow the odds and ends of life.

As for tech, the Grand Highlander has a 12.3-inch central touchscreen that’s home to a familiar Toyota infotainment system, one that’s reasonably intuitive and responsive. This multimedia array includes Google search functionality, which can help you find points of interest; there’s even a handy digital assistant that’s able to answer questions and perform other tasks by voice commands.

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In Platinum trim, at least, the Grand Highlander’s cabin is impressively premium. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Ahead of the driver is another 12.3-inch panel. This digital instrument cluster is not particularly attractive, and the interface for changing what information is displayed is obtuse and confusing.

Providing a dash of extra luxury, the Platinum trim also features a panoramic moonroof, head-up display and digital rearview mirror. Some drivers don’t care for them, but that last item dramatically increases your field of view behind the vehicle for greater safety. There’s also a 360-degree camera system, but as in other Toyota and Lexus models, the resolution is regrettably low compared to what the competition offers these days. This amenity is still useful, but it’s a step behind what’s expected in 2024.

The Grand Highlander is available in three trim levels: XLE, Limited and Platinum. Three powertrains are also on the menu, including two hybrid setups. This example features the top offering, the Hybrid Max setup, which is incredibly potent and reasonably efficient.

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This Toyota’s Hybrid Max powertrain is incredibly potent and reasonably efficient. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Centered around a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, this drivetrain also includes a small, nickel-metal hydride battery pack and two electric motors, one of which is mounted at the rear axle where it provides all-wheel drive. Working together, that engine and the electric motors provide 362 horsepower, 400 pound-feet of torque and pretty astonishing performance. The Grand Highlander can hit 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds, though it feels even quicker than that.

When you stand on the accelerator, the engine is not afraid to let its voice be heard; there’s also a bit of wind and road noise in this Toyota SUV, but none of this racket is too objectionable. Avoid drag racing from stoplight to stoplight and the Grand Highlander should return respectable fuel economy. Expect 26 miles per gallon city, 27 highway and 27 mpg combined. In mixed use, I’ve been getting 27 and change, which is not too bad for a large utility vehicle, one that can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

Dynamically, the Grand Highlander is quite refined. The ride quality is supple but not sloppy, providing good isolation from rough surfaces. Likewise, the steering ratio is surprisingly quick and crisp, though quite numb. Overall, this SUV feels shockingly agile but not at all engaging, the vehicle is easy to drive and manage but doesn’t make you seek out a twisting mountain road, not that any midsize utility vehicle does that, in fairness.

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It’s not just passenger space, the Grand Highlander offers a vast amount of cargo room as well. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Easing the burden of driving, Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 is standard across the Grand Highlander range. This includes automatic high beams, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane centering and much more. Platinum models also come with traffic jam assist, which operates on limited-access roadways at speeds up to 25 mph. This system will steer, stop and accelerate the SUV when certain conditions are met. To enjoy this feature, a Drive Connect trial or subscription is required.

The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Platinum is an excellent three-row SUV. Its interior is beautifully trimmed and smartly designed, the acceleration provided by the Hybrid Max powertrain is strong, this vehicle looks great from just about every angle and there’s a cavernous amount of space for passengers and cargo.

As for downsides, they are few and rather insignificant. This Toyota’s engine could be a little quieter, its steering a touch livelier, even better efficiency would be nice, and the Platinum grade is, not surprisingly, quite pricey.

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The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is a superb midsize SUV. Photo credit: EV Pulse / Craig Cole

Indeed, the example shown here checks out for $61,705 including $1,395 in destination fees as well as a smattering of inconsequential options. That price is right in line with other three-row midsize SUVs, but it still makes me wince. Luckily, you can get into a base, gas-powered front-drive model for less than $45,000 or the non-Hybrid Max hybrid variant for about $1,700 more than that. If you’re looking for a spacious family hauler with great performance and comfort, the Toyota Grand Highlander is a superb choice.

At a glance

  • Year: 2024
  • Make: Toyota
  • Model: Grand Highlander
  • Trim: Platinum
  • Type: Hybrid midsize SUV
  • Horsepower: 362
  • Torque: 400 pound-feet
  • MPG ratings (city/highway/combined): 26/27/27
  • Pros: Strong acceleration, handsome styling, beautiful interior, loads of space
  • Cons: Engine noise, numb steering, Platinum model is pricey
  • Estimated Base price: $46,415
  • As-tested price: $61,705 including $1,395 in destination fees

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Written by Craig Cole

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