Crossover & Midsize

Does the Toyota Highlander Have Apple CarPlay?

The Toyota Highlander is a great SUV option on the market. It hasn’t been redesigned since 2014, but it has gotten a few minor upgrades since then. In 2017, it got a new V6 engine option as well as standard Toyota Safety Sense. Last year, more optional upgrades were introduced like LED fog lamps. For 2020, the Highlander received another long-awaited upgrade: smartphone integration.

Using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto helps you get the most out of your car’s infotainment system. Once you link your device, you can access your music, contacts, and other apps through the car’s touchscreen. However, some cars only offer support for one kind of device. Which phones are compatible with the 2020 Highlander?

Standard and available tech

2020 Toyota Highlander on display
The 2020 Toyota Highlander | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Models from 2020 are the first Toyota vehicles to have standard smartphone integration. The 2020 Highlander comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to use compatible Apple devices and a wide range of Google phones with the interface.

The standard touchscreen also got an upgrade from 6 to 8 inches. Bluetooth connectivity and five USB ports are also included. Getting one of the higher trims will score you a few more cool upgrades.

The Highlander XLE trim comes with both satellite and HD radio. The Limited and Platinum editions also have a 12-speaker JBL audio system and a Wi-Fi hotspot. All of these trims come with 12-inch touchscreens inside.

Safety features

Like the previous model, the standard 2020 Toyota Highlander includes an advanced set of safety features. Toyota Safety Sense has lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams, cruise control, and forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection. Blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, and rear-seat alert are also included in each trim.

The Highlander can also be a capable off-roader thanks to its different drive modes. The base Highlander has Snow Mode and three different driving modes: Normal, Eco, and Sport. You also get multi-terrain select for when you need to drive over rockier roads.

This mode has settings for mud, sand, and rocks. Hill-start assist is also standard, and higher trims also include downhill assist control. It’s probably not as rough and ready as the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, but it’s still suitable for some light off-roading fun.

Do any other Toyota models have Apple CarPlay?

In the future, all newer Toyota models will have standard smartphone integration. However, it’s still available as an update for certain older models. The Apple CarPlay feature can be downloaded in both the 2018-2019 Sienna and Camry. A small service fee is required to upgrade.

You can still get Apple CarPlay in older cars using an aftermarket product. Pioneer, Alpine, and Kenwood all sell portable touchscreens that can sync with your phone. They come in different sizes and cost from $450-$750 depending on which one you choose. These can be used in any older car, not just Toyota models.

Is Apple CarPlay worth it?

The addition of Apple CarPlay can potentially make a car’s price tag jump up to $1,000 extra. Using an aftermarket product may save you a few hundred dollars; however, some may find the units a hassle to install themselves. If you purchase a newer car, its standard touchscreen may also be more high quality than the aftermarket device.

In some cases, using Apple CarPlay is also safer than just using your phone. With Siri and Bluetooth, you can answer calls and texts without taking your eyes off the road. Controlling your music is also easier since you can just reach forward to press the touchscreen.

The Apple CarPlay-equipped 2020 Toyota Highlander started hitting dealership lots last month. If you’re interested in buying a hybrid Highlander, that model will be available in February.