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A lot is riding on Toyota’s decision to downsize the motor in the new 2023 Toyota Highlander SUV. It’s the No. 1-selling midsize SUV for the last six years. For 2023, Toyota is ditching the V6 in the Highlander and moving to a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the first time. The engine swap comes as Toyota is making a lot of engine swaps in many 2023 SUVs. The new 2023 Toyota Sequoia and the 2023 Tundra get new i-FORCE MAX hybrid engines instead of V8s, for example.

The new 2023 Highlander’s new powerplant is more refined

For the new 2023 Toyota Highlander refresh Toyota is ditching the V6.
2023 Toyota Highlander

The 2022 Highlander comes in two flavors, gas and hybrid. Technically, Toyota considers the Highlander Hybrid a separate model. The gas-powered highlander gets 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.  The Hybrid version starts at $39,555 and gets 36 mpg in the city, and 35 on the highway. Most don’t realize that because of their instant boost hybrids often get better gas mileage in the city than they do on the highway. The gas engine makes 295 horsepower, and 263 lb.-ft of torque, which is plenty to get the 4,145-pound SUV going.

For 2023, however, the Highlander will get a more refined engine. Instead of the old V6, the new four 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.

The new engine is much more efficient

Toyota has ditched the V6 for this new turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The new turbocharged four-cylinder in the 2023 Highlander | Toyota

Toyota estimates that the new gas engine should get 24 mpg combined. That’s a bit better than the older version’s 23 mpg combined. Interestingly, Toyota says the new engine reduced NOx pollutants by 50%, and significantly reduces other emissions compared to the old V6.

No word from Toyota yet on what powerplant the expected Grand Highlander will have.

What else is new for the 2023 Toyota Highlander?

The new 2023 Toyota Highlander interior has more and bigger screens.
2023 Toyota Highlander interior | Toyota

The new Highlander is a sales leader for Toyota so most of the upgrades in the new 2023 Toyota Highlander are evolutionary. Toyota sales customers want larger screens, so the new highlander will offer two 12.3-inch multi-function displays in the Limited and Platinum models. The single 12.3-inch screen is optional for the XLE and XSE trim levels, while an 8-inch screen is standard. You can order power-folding mirrors, new SofTex fabric seats, two 120-volt outlets, and more.

The big news on the inside, however, is that new Toyota Highlanders get a standard second-row bench for seating eight people. But, you can choose captain’s chairs for the second row. The bigger Sequoia gets sliding and reclining rear seats, but the Highlander makes do with a bench in the way back. All-wheel-drive is available for the new Highlander and Highlander Hybrid. The SUV has an automatic disconnection system for its all-wheel drive system in the gas Highlander.


2023 Toyota Highlander: Features, Price, Specs, & Overview