The last year redesigned, mid-size Toyota Highlander gets high scores for the spacious cabin, upscale materials, responsive powertrain, comfortable ride and broad equipment availability. The fourth-generation Highlander is also aware of modern trends and it is also available with the high-mpg hybrid powertrain. The current Highlander Hybrid is available in LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum trims while the V-6 powered version can also be had in the base L version. However, while the conventionally powered Highlander gets a new, sportier XSE trim for the new model year, the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid returns with no significant upgrades and with the same trim ranger.
The new XSE trim is reserved for the V-6 powered Highlander only and it comes with more aggressive styling, sportier interior and performance-tuned suspension and steering. The hybrid version skips this treatment and it remains an option for the buyers prioritizing the high fuel efficiency.
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Design
A fully redesigned, fourth-generation Highlander arrived for the 2020 model year based on the new, lightweight TNGA platform and styled in accordance with the brand’s latest design language. The same recipe is applied to the recently all-new and the brand’s best-selling Toyota RAV4 which comes with a new plug-in hybrid setup for the 2021 model year.
The model wears the brand’s inverted trapezoidal grille combined with sharp headlights and creased hood. The profile gets attention with the sculpted fenders and rear quarters. The rear houses nice, elongated taillights mixed with the sleek bumper and tailgate-mounted spoiler.
The new XSE version has a more athletic styling thanks to the specific grille version with enlarged air openings, sportier front bumper and widened rear bumper mixed with blacked-out exterior inserts. However, this trim won’t be available with the hybrid powertrain.
The 2021 Toyota Highlander should offer new wheel and exterior color patterns.
The new XSE version comes with unique interior touches including a specific color scheme and red leather seats. The 2021 Toyota Highlander starts again from the LE trim but skips the new XSE option.
The new-generation Highlander has a driver-focused dash design with well-organized controls. The model is also comfortable and offers over 80 cubes for the cargo. It can also be had with various materials including synthetic and leather options. The higher-priced versions add also heated and cooled seats and other premium comfort and tech features.
The model employs also modern tech and safety features. The trim range starts with tri-zone climate control, keyless ignition, an 8-inch touchscreen, a power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, a power liftgate, etc. It gets also a backup of active driver safety systems including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, active lane control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring while surround-view cameras come as an option.
The trim above will add heated front seats, roof rails, a power moonroof, etc. The top grades get premium upholstery and JBL sound system, a 12.3-inch touchscreen, etc.
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Performance, MPG
The 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid returns with the same powertrain setup consisting of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motors and continuously variable transmission.
Buyers can choose between the front- and all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive Highlander has the second electric motor powering the rear axle and there is no mechanical connection between the axles. While the V-6-powered Highlander can tow up to 5, 000 pounds the hybrid version is limited to 3, 500 pounds.
The inline-4 engine mixed with the electric motors delivers 243 hp while the fuel economy depends on the configuration. The front-wheel-drive Highlander Hybrid scores high 36 mpg city, 35 highways and 36 mpg combined. When equipped with the all-wheel drive, the model promise 35/34/35 mpg city/highway/combined.
The V-6 equipped version manages up to 29 mpg highway with the front-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive, gas-powered Highlander promises 2 mpg less.
2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid: Release, Price
The next 2021 Toyota Highlander should go on sale this fall. It hasn’t been said that pandemic would delay the market launch.
The price should see some limited increase across the trim range. The current Highlander Hybrid starts from $39, 320. The gas-powered version is available from $34, 600.
The mid-size Toyota Highlander is an alternative to the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse and Nissan Pathfinder.