Toyota’s full-size Highlander SUV has been with us since 2001 and has developed a loyal following. Unlike its utilitarian body-on-frame competitors of the era like the Chevy TrailBlazer and Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Highlander emerged with a unibody platform that delivered a much more comfortable and car-like ride. This, in addition to Toyota’s reputation for reliability and value, enabled the Highlander to blossom in popularity. Now Toyota has expanded upon its celebrated Highlander with the much anticipated and more spacious Grand Highlander SUV.
New for the 2024 model year, the Grand Highlander is built on Toyota’s GA-K platform and shares it with countless other Toyota models including the original Highlander. In the case of the Grand Highlander, Toyota modified this platform with a longer wheelbase and wider track to allow for expanded interior comfort. Three trim levels are offered including base XLE, mid-range Limited, and top-line Platinum.
Two Hybrid Choices Available
Buyers also have a choice of three powertrain options. A 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder featuring 265 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. Next up is a 2.5-liter inline-four Dynamic Force hybrid with two electric motors, a combination that pushes out 245 horsepower and connects to a CVT transmission. The most powerful choice is Toyota’s Hybrid MAX powerplant offering 362 horsepower and 400 lb-ft torque. This uses a 2.4-liter turbocharged motor with two electric motors coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA estimated combined fuel economy is 24 mpg for the 2.4-liter turbo, 36 mpg for the hybrid, and 27 mpg for the Hybrid MAX.
Front-wheel or all-wheel drive is available on all but the Hybrid MAX variant, which comes with all-wheel drive as standard fare. Driver selectable Sport, Eco, and Normal drive modes allow tailoring the driving experience with all powertrains. Off-pavement adventures are further enhanced in Hybrid MAX and gas AWD variants with Multi-Terrain Select driving modes for Rock & Dirt, Mud & Sand, and Snow.
Grand Highlander is Spacious
Toyota has not forgotten that SUVs are often used to haul things, whether camping gear, home improvement supplies, or toys for the kids. There’s plenty of room for all since the Grand Highlander has 20.6 cubic feet of stowage capacity behind the third row seat and 57.9 cubic feet with the second row seats folded. With second and third rows folded flat, the Grand Highlander boasts an impressive 97.5 cubic feet of total storage space. Those who need to tow gear along on their journeys will find that the Grand Highlander delivers here as well. The Dynamic Force hybrid comes with a tow rating of 3,500 pounds while the gas variant and Hybrid MAX models up the ante with the ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The Grand Highlander expands upon Toyota’s current design language. At the front of the SUV, a familiar large gloss-black grille is situated front and center. A pair of functional air curtains sit below and diagonally, allowing air to flow over the front wheels to reduce drag. A discreetly muscular hood sits high atop the front end. Down the sides, very large windows are a hallmark of the Grand Highlander’s look, allowing as much light into the cabin as possible. At the rear, a large roof spoiler spills out atop the similarly large rear window. A pair of slim and stark LED taillights line either end of the rear hatch.
Storage Space in the Grand Highlander
Inside, Toyota conveys what it believes the Grand in Grand Highlander should represent. Ample room is present throughout, with tons of charging ops and storage space. For example, a total of 13 cupholders and seven USB-C ports are present. Soft-touch materials are peppered throughout the space, including on seats and armrests. Up front, a standard 12.3-inch infotainment system sits center-stage with climate control buttons positioned beneath. A standard 8-inch digital gauge cluster sits in front of the driver with a 12.3-inch digital cluster optional. Both the second and third row seats make use of the same soft-touch materials and offer more examples of abundant storage.
A generous amount of tech and safety features are included in this SUV. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with over-the-air update capability. A one-year free trial for Toyota’s Drive Connect is included that makes Intelligent Assistant, Cloud Navigation, and Destination Assistant available to drivers. Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 is included as well, with Proactive Driving Assist and an Emergency Driving Stop System that will attempt to safely stop the vehicle if the system senses an unresponsive driver.
An Appealing New Toyota SUV
With the addition of the Grand Highlander in Toyota’s already-ample SUV lineup, buyers now have a new and appealing choice ideally positioned between the mid-size Highlander and full-size Tundra-based Sequoia, at a base price of $43,070. No doubt, Toyota’s long-popular Highlander has paved an extremely successful path for the new Grand Highlander to follow. We imagine that legions of buyers attracted to the many charms of the Highlander but yearn for a roomier package will find the new Grand Highlander an intriguing new option at the showroom.