Sometimes Toyota isn’t so good at keeping a secret. For months we’ve been hearing about the new Grand Highlander SUV, and all the while spy photos and information seems to drip out of Toyota City. Officially, Toyota’s holding the new Grand Highlander debut on February 4 to show off the new Highlander. From what we can tell, there are several reasons to wait for the new SUV to hit the market.
What is the 2023 Toyota Grand Highlander?
The Grand Highlander is the more grand (grander?) version of the Highlander SUV. In Toyota speak, that means that it’s longer and more luxurious. It’s one of the most anticipated SUVs of the year and Toyota says it’ll debut next month. The prospect of a roomier Highlander, which is one of the most reliable vehicles you can buy, seems great.
Why is the Grand Highlander special?
Today’s Highlander is a great SUV that seats seven and has a powerful turbo motor. But it has one big, or should we say small, flaw. The back seat exists, but it’s a cramped affair and really only suitable for kids of gymnasts.
The Grand highlander should address that by adding some extra length to the back end. Like an 1880s dress bustle, it’ll bring more room for full-sized adults and more luggage. Though it has the same look as a Highlander, you can just see a little bit more overhang from the rear wheel to the bumper under the new taillights and stoplight in the one image Toyota has released. Toyota says the new SUV will come equipped for family adventures, but didn’t elaborate.
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.
Toyota needs another seven-seat SUV
The 4Runner and the 2023 Toyota Sequoia, as well as the Highlander and Sienna minivan all seat seven. But, the 4Runner’s optional back seat is cramped, and the Sequoia is about $15,000 more expensive than a Highlander.
The new 2024 Grand Highlander will be longer, and that means that many will cross-shop it with the large seven-seater SUVs like the Chevy Traverse. The Traverse, at 17 feet long, has plenty of room, amenities, and in many cases is a better choice than even Chevy’s Tahoe SUV. It has a powerful V6 and plenty of space. It could also compete with Toyota’s own Lexus TX SUV, which will share the same platform.
The new 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L should also compete with the new Grand Highlander. The L means long, and in the Cherokee’s case, the extended wheelbase turns the Cherokee into a full seven seater with 30 inches of rear seat space. Also, Honda’s Pilot SUV could be considered a competitor, though it is only slightly larger than the current 2023 Highlander.