Newly Turbo 2023 Toyota Highlander: Torque About That Pricing!10/06/2022
At 265 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, the new 2.4-liter turbocharged I-4 in the 2023 Toyota Highlander is rather impressive. This engine, which replaces last year’s 3.5-liter V-6, delivers an additional 47 lb-ft of torque despite its lower displacement and two fewer cylinders. Sure, it gives up 30 hp to the V-6, but in a three-row people-mover like the Highlander, torque is more beneficial in everyday driving than outright horsepower. To wit, the 2023 Highlander can tow more than its V-6-powered predecessor, and adds trailer sway control (TSC), larger infotainment screens, power folding mirrors on the top two trims, a more convenient location for the Qi wireless charger, and a new color. However, does that all mean that the Highlander gives you more for your dollar in 2023?
You Guessed It—Price Increases
While the new engine stands in as the conventional powertrain—there remains a hybrid model, too—Toyota increases prices across the board. The 22 variants(!) all average out to $771 more than their 2022 counterparts. The unchanged 2023 hybrid model comes in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive with a rear electric motor supporting the electrified four-cylinder driving the front wheels. The highest price increase affects the Limited FWD trim ($2,065 difference between 2022 and 2023), while the lowest difference is actually a $370 price cut for the Platinum Hybrid. The non-hybrid Platinums see an increase of $1,065 for the third highest price increase while the 2023 Bronze Edition AWD sees the second highest bump at $1,200.
Much of these increases are offset by the new 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment and digital gauge cluster standard on half the lineup. The new 12.3-inch gauge cluster screen, by the way, replaces last year’s mix of analog gauges and a 7.0-inch display and allows for more visualizations for your driving modes. The 12.3-inch infotainment screen is standard on the Bronze Edition but is optional for the XLE and XSE, which get equally new 8.0-inch screens standard along with the old 7.0-inch gauge cluster display, which replaces those models’ smaller 4.2-inch version from 2022. Limited and Platinum trims also come with power folding mirrors as standard along with Clari-Fi technology on the JBL Premium Audio system with 1,200 watts of power driving its 11 speakers. The XSE gets this “enhanced audio experience” as an option, but Toyota’s new Audio Multimedia allows for dual Bluetooth phone connectivity for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard on all Highlanders, whether they get the 8.0- or 12.3-inch screens. All Highlanders also gain Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC) being included for 2023.
Most interesting is the Toyota Connected Services, which includes Safety Connect and the capability to receive vehicle health reports, maintenance alerts and reminders, both with a 10-year trial. Then there are the services included in the Toyota app under the Remote Connect service that lets users turn on the headlights, lock and unlock their doors, and remotely start the vehicle from their phone. This is standard on all but the L trim, but it is available for an extra cost on that trim while the service is free for one year. Every ’23 Highlander comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, and automatic high beam assist as well as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert on LE and above trims, front and rear parking assist with auto braking on the Limited and Platinum trims, and Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan on the Limited and Platinum trims, too. This provides a live, 360-degree rotating view around the vehicle.
Same Economy, More Torque, Smaller Engine
The Highlander’s new 2.4-liter turbocharged I-4 also improves fuel economy over the outgoing V-6 by 1 mpg on the EPA’s combined rating. The new turbo I-4 gets 25 mpg combined versus the 24 mpg for the V-6, but city and highway ratings weren’t disclosed by Toyota nor are they live yet on the EPA’s fuel economy website at the time of this writing,. However, Toyota also claims the new engine is environmentally better with “more than a 50 percent reduction in NOx and non-methane organic gasses (NMOG)” when compared to the V-6. Toyota also didn’t list whether these figures apply to the front-wheel-drive Highlander or the all-wheel-drive model or both. For reference, 2022 Highlanders with AWD gave up about 1 mpg relative to the FWD versions, even on the hybrids. Much of the hybrid version of the Highlander remains the same, including the EV mode that allows electric-only driving for short distances and its 3,500-pound towing capacity. The turbo I-4 gets a 5,000-pound towing capacity, the same rating as the outgoing V-6 engine.
Three Row Capability Remains
Unchanged is the Highlander’s ability to seat more than five people. The L and LE trims’ second-row is a bench seat that, along with the three-across third row, allows up to eight people to fit. In the XLE, Limited, Bronze Edition, XSE, and Platinum trims are standard second-row captain’s chairs, cutting the seat count to seven, though a bench is optional on the XLE (both hybrid and conventional) and Limited non-hybrid trims. This does mean that you’ll only get 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seat when it’s up, but it does offer a 60/40 split seat that will fold flat, gaining you up to 48.4 cubes of cargo space. Drop the second row, too, and your cargo capacity increases to the Highlander’s maximum of 84.3 cubic feet.
Is The 2023 Highlander Still Worth The Money?
Previously we deemed the 2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition our pick of the litter, but any version is good value so long as you’re not looking for a huge third-row seat. With the three-row market adding in more competitors by the day, among them several excellent contenders such as the SUV of the Year-winning Kia Telluride, the Toyota will increasingly lean on its reputation for being a safe bet and, well, a reliable Toyota. We’ll find out soon whether the new turbo engine enhances the Highlander experience when we drive it and test it.
Full 2023 Toyota Highlander Pricing, Trim-by-Trim
2023 Toyota Highlander
|MSRP||2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid||MSRP|
|L 2.4L Turbo||$37,755 (+$1,600 for AWD)|
|LE FWD 2.5L Hybrid||$41,555 (+$1,600 for AWD)|
|LE 2.4L Turbo||$40,155 (+$1,600 for AWD)||XLE 2.5L Hybrid||$44,555 (+$1,600 for AWD)|
|XSE 2.4L Turbo||$44,750 (+$1,950 for AWD)|
|Bronze Edition 2.5L Hybrid||$47,115 (+$1,600 for AWD)|
|XLE 2.4L Turbo||$43,155 (+$1,600 for AWD)|
|Limited 2.4L Turbo||$47,410 (+$1,950 for AWD)||Limited 2.5L Hybrid||$48,810 (+$1,950 for AWD)|
|Platinum FWD 2.4L Turbo||$50,410 (+$1,950 for AWD)||Platinum 2.5L Hybrid||$50,475 (+$1,950 for AWD)|
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