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For several months we’ve been hearing about the upcoming long-wheelbase Toyota Grand Highlander, now it looks like there are some spy shots starting to emerge of the new SUV. While the Highlander already seats eight, the new Grand Highlander is expected to have a longer wheelbase, which means more legroom in the way back and likely more cargo carrying ability. The new platform will also underpin the new Lexus TX. But what can we expect from the new, grander, Highlander?

What is the Toyota Grand Highlander?

The 2023 Highlander has a lot of room, but with a bit more room, it could definitely become more grand. It has three rows of seating, but the third row has just 28 inches of legroom, compared to a generous 42 inches in the front. That means the third row is for kids or jockeys only. It also has just 16 cubic feet of space behind the third row, which is about enough for a backpack or three with the seat up. To get more room today, you have to step up to the $15,000 more expensive Sequoia SUV.

The Toyota Highlander has three rows

Front angle view of Wind Chill Pearl 2023 Toyota Highlander midsize SUV
Wind Chill Pearl 2023 Toyota Highlander | Toyota

The new Grand Highlander, with some extra length, should provide enough legroom in the way back that actual adults could sit comfortably in. It also means that the Grand Highlander could have enough room to carry luggage behind the third row for those seven or eight people. According to GM Authority, the new Grand Highlander prototype has been touring around Toyota’s Michigan offices.

Today’s Highlander is also known as a reliable SUV. For 2023, however, the Highlander will get a more refined engine. Instead of the old 290-horsepower V6, the new four-cylinder has just 265 horsepower. But, it makes quite a bit more torque. The four makes 309 lb.-ft, which means that in real-world driving, and the stoplight-to-stoplight races we all make, it should keep up with the outgoing Highlander. More torque means more power as you tip into the go pedal. It also means that the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

What will compete with the new Grand Highlander?

A side profile shot of a white 2023 Chevy Traverse full-size crossover SUV model driving through a city
2023 Chevy Traverse | Chevrolet

The Chevy Traverse at 17 feet long is a beast, but this three-row SUV will compete directly with the new Grand Highlander. It comes with a 310-horsepower V6, and lots of family-friendly features. For comparison, it offer 23 cubic feet of space behind the back seats, and it has 33.5 inches of legroom in the back, too.

The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L takes the Grand Cherokee into the long category, too. The regular Grand Cherokee is a two-row, five seat, SUV, while the L adds a third row. It has 30 inches of legroom in the rear, but just 17.2 inches of space in the back with the seat up. The Grand Highlander will also likely compete against the Honda Pilot, which is within inches of the current Highlander in space.

Three-row SUVs are adding room to the rear

A Land Rover Defender 110 V8 shows off its capability.
2022 Land Rover Defender 110 | Land Rover

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The new Grand Highlander follows a trend by other manufacturers adding extra length to an existing SUV to add room. For example, the last generation of Lexus RX came in regular and L, for “long,” versions, that added a third row of seats. GM has long made the Suburban, too, which is basically a Tahoe with some extra length. Also, Land Rover makes the new Defender 110, which is a three-row version of that SUV. Rover added 20 inches to the Land Rover 90 (get it?) to make that third row a possibility.