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The 2023 Toyota Highlander XSE is advertised as the sporty side of this Toyota SUV. This model should be cool, performance-oriented, and powerful. While we can certainly admire the Highlander XSE, it’s a wonder why it would be considered a sporty Toyota SUV.

What does the 2023 Toyota Highlander XSE trim offer?

Light Blue Toyota Highlander posed
Light Blue Toyota Highlander | Toyota

Toyota adds some items that could make the XSE feel sporty, including:

  • Sport-tuned suspension
  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Ambient cabin lighting
  • Exterior cosmetic upgrades

A few of the optional items include:

  • Torque vectoring all-wheel drive
  • 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated/ventilated front seats
  • Perforated leather upholstery
  • Driver Easy Speak
  • Dynamic Navigation
  • 11-speaker JBL audio system

These features are in addition to what you find in the lower trims. Some of the additional items you’ll find in the Highlander XSE are:

  • Powered moonroof
  • Wireless device charging
  • Heated front seats
  • Simulated leather upholstery
  • Hands-free tailgate
  • LED exterior lighting
  • LED fog lights
  • Keyless entry
  • Push-button starting
  • Tri-zone automatic climate controls
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane-tracing assistance
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Automatic high beams
  • 8-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Amazon Alexa compatibility
  • One USB-A port
  • Four USB-C ports
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Satellite Radio
  • Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Remote engine starting
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Is the XSE version of the Highlander roomy?

Red and Black Interior Toyota Highlander XSE
Red and Black Interior Toyota Highlander XSE | Toyota

Every Toyota Highlander has the same cabin area. The XSE trim has a pair of captain’s chairs in the center row and a bench seat in the rear. This is the only seating configuration for this trim level.

Behind the rear seat, you’ll find 16.0 cubic feet of cargo room. Fold down the third row, and this space increases to 48.4 cubic feet and then again to 84.3 cubic feet when the second row is also folded.

Does the sporty XSE trim receive a different powertrain from the other Highlander trims?

Blue Toyota Highlander on the road
Blue Toyota Highlander | Toyota

No, the sporty version of the Highlander has the same powertrain as the rest. The suspension, larger wheels, and optional AWD are the only mechanical items that add to the sportiness of the drive.

The powertrain for the Highlander XSE is a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine attached to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain gives you 265 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. Towing reaches 5,000 pounds in the Highlander SUV.

How much does this Toyota SUV cost?

The starting price for the 2023 Toyota Highlander XSE should be around $43,000. Adding a few options to this vehicle could push that price above $45,000 in a hurry.

Is the XSE trim the right Highlander for you?

Even though the XSE version of this Toyota SUV doesn’t have more power than the rest, it can feel sportier and more fun. You probably won’t carve up any corners, but you can feel a little more aggressive with the upgraded suspension, exterior elements, and when you add the AWD system. If you want an SUV with more comfort and less sportiness, check out the higher trims of the 2023 Toyota Highlander.

Next, learn more about the Honda Pilot generations, or watch the Toyota Highlander XSE video below:


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