Toyota kicked off the 2023 Chicago Auto Show with the world premiere of the 2024 Grand Highlander. It marks the Japanese automaker’s first midsize-class SUV to offer what they call an “adult-sized third row” with “ample cargo space.”
Grand Highlander runs on a stretched version of the current Highlander’s platform. Standard seating is for seven with captain’s chairs comprising the 2nd-row. An optional 2nd-row bench increases passenger capacity to eight. While the standard Highlander offers similar seating options, the Grand version offers nearly 6 inches of additional 3rd-row legroom, 2.5 inches more shoulder room, and an inch of extra headroom. Cargo space also increases to 97.5 cubic feet with all seating rows folded, a 15 percent increase over the smaller Highlander. This extra passenger and cargo volume now means Toyota can be more competitive against other three-row “large-midsize” SUVs such as the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade/Kia Telluride, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Mazda CX-9, Nissan Pathfinder, and Volkswagen Atlas.
Powertrain options include the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The lone conventional gas engine is the 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that made its debut on the 2023 Highlander, which produces 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. It will use an 8-speed automatic transmission.
A pair of gas/electric hybrid options will also be available. The first uses Toyota’s tried-and-tested 2.5-liter gas engine. When combined with the electric motor, total output is 243 horsepower with an EPA-estimated 34 mpg combined fuel-economy rating. Top-end models, dubbed Hybrid MAX, will get an even more potent drivetrain that produces 362 horsepower and a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds.
Interior amenities are what you would expect from a vehicle in this class. The standard infotainment interface uses a large 12.3-inch screen with support for over-the-air software updates. The available built-in navigation system is connected to the cloud to provide a more seamless update experience. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Toyota is continuing its partnership with JBL to provide the optional top-end audio solution that also includes its clever Clari-Fi system to enhance the quality of compressed songs played from streaming services.
Other items standard on the base XLE grade are Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 3.0, blind-spot alert with rear cross-traffic detection, heated front seats, 2nd-row sunshades, seven USB-C power ports, power rear liftgate, and Digital Key, which allows you to use your smartphone to lock/unlock and start the vehicle by using your smartphone. TSS 3.0 is a suite of driver-assistance features that includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, radar cruise control, road-sign detection, and a new system that the automaker calls “Proactive Driving Assist,” which includes limited autonomous capability similar to Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist.
Moving up to the mid-level Grand Highlander Limited nets you 20-inch wheels (up from standard 18s), hands-free power liftgate, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row seats, driver-seat memory, heated steering wheel, JBL audio, obstacle detection, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
The flagship Platinum model comes standard with ventilated 2nd-row seating, a panoramic sunroof, head-up instrument display, surround-view camera, front cross-traffic alert, and Traffic Jam Assist.
The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is slated to on sale in late summer. Pricing will be announced closer to that time, but we would estimate the front-drive gas XLE to come in at around $43,000-$44,000 plus destination fee with a loaded AWD Platinum MAX Hybrid topping out at around the $55,000 mark.
The Grand Highlander fills a long-standing gap in Toyota’s product portfolio. It looks the part and should perform quite well, especially with the MAX Hybrid drivetrain. At least for now, the only thing Toyota should be concerned about is how this vehicle might potentially hurt regular Highlander sales as it’s somewhat of a redundant product. Those needing three rows will flock to the Grand Highlander or the full-size Sequoia while folks who can get by with a five-seat SUV can turn to the cheaper Venza. It will be very interesting to see how Toyota navigates this potentially tricky marketing situation.
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)