Toyota Highlander receives fresh tech for 2023

One year on from its debut, Toyota has revealed updates for the Highlander SUV

Toyota’s current line-up includes no less than six SUVs, and sitting just below the largest model (the Land Cruiser), is the Highlander. Revealed last year, Toyota has now revealed an updated version with new technology. 

While ‘Highlander’ might not be a household name here, this is actually the fourth-generation model. It’s been sold in North America, Japan and Australia in various guises since 2000, but the rapidly growing seven-seat SUV market in Europe has now given Toyota all the incentive it needs to compete with the likes of the SEAT Tarraco, Peugeot 5008 and Skoda Kodiaq.

Updates for the Highlander include the latest version of the Toyota Smart Connect+ multimedia system. The screen sizes up to 12.3-inches, matching the specification offered in left-hand-drive Highlander markets. Along with the larger size it includes expanded cloud-based navigation with real-time information on road events and an on-board voice command system. A four-year data plan is inclusive.

The cloud system can also operate the central locking and the hazard lights. While there’s  and perform over-the-air updates. Apple CarPlay features wireless connectivity, but Android Auto users will have to use a wired connection. 

Instrumentation goes fully digital in the Highlander too, with the adoption of a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with customisable themes. 

The revisions coincide with a thinning of the model lineup with the entry Excel trim being ditched, leaving just the Excel Premium which starts from £55,210. This means the Highlander now comes with a wireless charging tray as standard, 20-inch alloy wheels (now available in gloss black), a head-up display, heated rear seats, a 360-degree parking camera and a power-operated hands-free tailgate. A panoramic glass sunroof, leather upholstery, three-zone air conditioning and a JBL stereo system also features. 

The Highlander is built on Toyota’s GA-K platform, which it shares with the Camry and the RAV4. However, it’s larger than both of those vehicles, measuring 4950mm long, 1930mm wide and 1730mm tall. It also has a 658 litre boot capacity, expanding to a claimed 1,909 litres with the second and third seating rows stowed.

Like the RAV4, the Highlander uses a 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine and a CVT gearbox – although it features an electric motor on each axle rather than just a single motor at the rear. Total system output stands at 241bhp, while economy and emissions figures are a claimed 42.8mpg and 146g/km of CO2 respectively.

The Highlander also offers an EV mode, which allows the SUV to run on electric power alone for short periods of time, using electricity recovered from the car’s regenerative braking system.

Toyota has fitted the Highlander with a broad selection of driver assistance technologies, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and a traffic sign recognition system. There’s also a pre-collision system with active steering assist, that can automatically recognise pedestrians and cyclists that stray into the vehicle’s path.

Now read our in-depth review of the Toyota Highlander...

Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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