The midsize crossover utility vehicle segment, especially those with three rows, is gaining traction as the go-to option for families. Known for their roomy interiors, efficient performance, and substantial cargo space, these vehicles are highly sought after.
A common limitation, however, is the snug third row, often best suited for children. Addressing this need, Toyota unveils the 2024 Grand Highlander, an elongated variant of the standard Highlander, offering more space.
This new version enriches the model range, giving buyers a broader array of models and trim levels for the choosing.
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Review
Toyota offers the 2024 Grand Highlander in seven trims or grades. Three are gas models; four are electrified or hybrid models.
- The gas model is available in XLE ($43,070), Limited ($47,860), and Platinum ($53,545) grades.
- The electrified models come in Hybrid XLE ($44,670), Hybrid Limited ($51,060), Hybrid MAX Limited ($54,040), and Hybrid MAX Platinum ($58,125) grades. Add $1,335 for the destination charge.
Most gas and hybrid models come with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. The Hybrid MAX is only all-wheel drive.
Toyota added approximately four inches between the wheels and seven inches overall to form the Grand Highlander. The two models are nearly identical, although the profile reveals a larger greenhouse.
Where the Highlander is one of the smallest models in its segment, the Grand Highlander aligns closely with the largest models, including the Buick Enclave, Ford Explorer, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee L.
The Grand Highlander comes well equipped with standard LED lighting front and back, silver-painted wheels, heated power side mirrors, and a power liftgate. Alloy wheels, a power tilt-and-slide panoramic roof, and LED fog lights are offered on all but the base trim.
The superiority of the Grand Highlander compared to the standard Highlander is most noticeable in the third-row space. In the Highlander, this area offers 28 inches, but the Grand Highlander provides 37.2 inches.
However, the real measure of this space is in its usability. I personally tested it with my 6-foot frame and managed to fit comfortably, with approximately three inches of space between my knees and the seatback.
Toyota also expanded the cargo space, supplying the Grand Highlander with 20.8 cubic feet behind the third row compared to 16 cubic feet with the Highlander. With the second and third row seats folded, there is 97.3 cubic feet to work with, up by 13 cubic feet over the Highlander.
The cabin supplies room for eight with a pair of bench seats lined up behind the front-row bucket seats. Most models, though, offer room for seven as a pair of second-row captain’s chairs replace the bench. In our opinion, if you need room for eight, the Toyota Sienna minivan or the full-size Toyota Sequoia SUV are better choices.
Most trims of the Grand Highlander boast high-quality appointments, featuring either faux or genuine leather. The vehicle includes three-zone climate control, 13 cupholders, and ample storage compartments.
Standard features include heated and power-adjustable front seats. Options such as ultra-suede trim and heated and ventilated second-row seats are also available. Altogether, the interior exudes a premium feel.
Technology and Safety
Toyota dispenses with the Highlander’s two base trims, L and LE, offering a better equipped model beginning with the XLE. Thus, such features as a 12.3-inch touchscreen display, a 7-inch multi-information display, six USB ports, and a Qi wireless charger come standard.
Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker audio package are included. Move up the trim range and an 11-speaker JBL audio package and a 10-inch color head-up display are offered.
Driver-assist technology is a big deal today and Toyota does not disappoint. Toyota bundles its safety suite under the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 umbrella.
These features include automatic high beams, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, proactive driving assist, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and road sign assist.
Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist is offered apart from the bundle, yet it is standard. Toyota also makes available front and rear parking assist with automatic braking on all but the base grade.
Toyota offers three powertrain choices with the all-new Grand Highlander. The standard 2.4-liter turbocharged gas model delivers 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Power routes to wheels utilizing an 8-speed automatic transmission. This model delivers a combined 22 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The first of two hybrids is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It is a similar set up to the traditional Toyota hybrid popularized by the Prius. Power travels to the wheels by means of an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. This model earns upwards of 36 mpg combined.
Models bearing the Hybrid MAX insignia receive a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine along with a hybrid drivetrain and a six-speed automatic transmission. Toyota places one electric motor in the bell housing connecting the engine with the transmission, thus enabling this version to deliver 362 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.
Despite the emphasis on performance, this Grand Highlander achieves a respectable 27 mpg combined. The Hybrid MAX also possesses the best towing capacity at 5,000 pounds, compared to 3,500 pounds for the conventional hybrid.
Toyota lent us their standard hybrid model of the Grand Highlander for a week to test drive. Unlike the turbocharged version, this hybrid comes with a naturally aspirated engine. Despite this, it offers sufficient power for light loads. When fully accelerated, the synergy of the engine and electric motor efficiently drives the vehicle.
An important feature of the Grand Highlander is its push-button start and key fob. Sometimes, the car won’t start unless the fob physically touches the start button, which can be an issue if the fob is in your pocket or bag.
The instrument panel will prompt you to touch the fob to the start button, and doing so activates the hybrid quietly.
The Grand Highlander Hybrid is engineered for efficiency, continuing Toyota’s legacy from the Prius. While we didn’t reach the EPA-rated 36 mpg, our 32.5 mpg was still impressive. This efficiency may decrease slightly under heavy loads or when towing, but it still outperforms its competitors by about 10 mpg.
Toyota’s e-CVT in the Grand Highlander differs from conventional CVTs, as it uses electronic inputs instead of a belt. This eliminates the typical “rubber band” feel of CVTs, providing a smoother, less strained engine performance.
The vehicle accelerates smoothly and quietly. However, it’s worth exploring the other powertrain options to find the best fit for your needs.
Another aspect to consider is the lane-keeping assist feature. When engaged, it tends to overcorrect, frequently adjusting the vehicle’s position within the lane. Although this is beneficial for maintaining control, it can feel somewhat unnatural.
As a result, we often found ourselves turning off the system during most of our drives.
Toyota Grand Highlander Considerations
The standard Highlander continues to be a favored choice, particularly suitable for those who don’t prioritize third-row seating.
It’s worth noting that the base Highlander model is priced $7,000 lower, reflecting a decrease in standard features. Conversely, the Hybrid MAX stands out with its superior power and impressive efficiency, a blend unmatched by its rivals.
See Also – The Long History of the Toyota Land Cruiser
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