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2023 Toyota Highlander: fewer cylinders, new entertainment

2023 Toyota Highlander: fewer cylinders, new entertainment
The Toyota Highlander is often America’s best-selling mid-sized SUV (it lost its crown to the Jeep Grand Cherokee in our calculations last year, though Toyota continues to advertise it as the best-seller in its class). So it’s not broken. Not much to fix. However, Toyota will adjust the Highlander for the 2023 model year.

The head change is a new engine, and it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

Toyota has dropped the popular V6 from the Highlander range in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It offers 265 horsepower – 30 less than the outgoing 6-cylinder.

If you were riding the two back to back, you probably wouldn’t care. The new motor offers 309 lb-ft of torque, so it should feel a little more powerful at near speeds. But strangely enough, he is not more frugal. The new engine gets exactly the same 24 mpg combined as the old one, Toyota says.

Highlander Hybrid models get the same 243 horsepower powertrain as what is currently offered. The Highlander Hybrid returns 36 mpg combined in front-wheel drive (FWD) and 35 mpg with all-wheel drive (AWD).

There are no significant external changes. Inside it’s a different story.

Each trim level gets a larger instrument display for the driver. It’s still small on the L and LE versions, at 7 inches. But the small 4.2-inch screen of previous years is gone. Higher finishes get a 12.3-inch display.

All Highlanders get a new infotainment system. It’s still only 8 inches on L and LE models, but a 12.3-inch version is optional for those two and standard on higher finishes. It runs the same operating system as the latest Lexus NX, with natural language recognition, over-the-air updates and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

The designers also came to their senses and moved the optional cordless phone charging station to a shelf that was easy to reach, rather than hiding it in the center console.

Other changes include a foot-operated power tailgate on the XLE and XSE models and power folding mirrors on the Limited and Platinum editions.

Toyota has not announced pricing for the 2023 Highlander. We do not expect a significant change from the starting price of $35,855 in 2022.