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Alright, so off-roading is a strong term to use when talking about the Toyota Highlander. However, cruising along forest service roads, twisty mountain trails, and hard-packed beaches are worthwhile off-road activities for which the Highlander is ideally suited. There is even one 2023 Toyota Highlander feature that makes off-roading, and the entire trip, more enjoyable. 

2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze edition
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

What is the one 2023 Toyota Highlander feature that makes off-roading more enjoyable?

Imagine cruising along your favorite unbeaten path with the windows down when your favorite song rotates through your playlist; what is your first instinct? Crank it up, right? And if you’re driving a 2023 Toyota Highlander with the available 11-speaker JBL audio system, your day just got more enjoyable. 

JBL says its engineers work with their Toyota design-engineering counterparts to blend art and science as they create a customized audio experience for each Toyota vehicle. Their mission? “To bring the sound of legendary concerts and rock tours to your ride.” The result is a precise sound that is so dynamic you can feel it, even with all the windows down. 

The 11-speaker JBL audio system is standard on Limited and Platinum trimmed Highlander at no extra cost. However, if you’d like a Highlander XSE with the upgraded JBL system, it’ll cost an additional $1,375. Some of the specific features of the 2023 Highlander’s premium JBL audio system include:

  • A 12-channel DSP amplifier
  • Clari-Fi music restoration technology
  • QuantumLogic surround sound
  • 11 powerful speakers placed throughout the cabin
  • Four Wide Dispersion Midrange speakers
  • Two Horn Tweeters
  • Two Door Woofers
  • Two Full Range speakers
  • One subwoofer

What other features make the 2023 Toyota Highlander off-road capable?

The 2023 Toyota Highlander XSE base MSRP starts at $43,615, and you’ll have to add the $1,375 premium audio upgrade to get the 11-speaker JBL system. Also, if you take your new Highlander off-road, the $1,950 AWD system is a good investment, as is the $358 all-weather floor liner package. Finally, Toyota’s $1,335 delivery, processing, and handling charge brings the total to $48,633. 

For comparison, the 2023 Highlander Limited comes with the JBL audio system and carries a slightly higher MSRP of $49,918 with AWD. An AWD Highlander Platinum with AWD and the included JBL audio costs $53,118. The Limited and Platinum trims also offer AWD Hybrid drivetrains with MSRPs of $51,518 and $54,718, respectively, including delivery, processing, and handling. 

The best part of off-roading is getting to the end of the road.

Taking advantage of the 11-speaker JBL audio system requires opting for the XSE, Limite, or Platinum trim levels. They all feature a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive and seat up to eight.

In addition, a gas-only 265-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder provides 310 lb-ft of torque. The Hybrid combines the same displacement engine and an electric motor for 243 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. 

The gas-only Highlander gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined, and the Hybrid gets up to 36 mpg combined. But, of course, opting for AWD lowers these figures. 

These upper trim levels offer optional and standard features not found at the base levels, such as:

  • A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster
  • A panoramic moonroof
  • Heated and ventilated seats
  • Wireless device charging

Taking your new Highlander off-road doesn’t require rubbing tree branches or grinding skidplates over rocks. Instead, driving down a dusty two-track or enjoying a beach-side sunset with your favorite tunes sounds pretty nice.


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