From the teasers and the name, we were expecting the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander to basically be a longer version of the regular Highlander we know and, well, don’t love, but it’s acceptable. But Toyota did a fair bit more than the bare minimum, bestowing the Grand Highlander with unique styling and the new Hybrid Max powertrain as an option. You may remember the powertrain from such Toyota products as the Toyota Crown and Lexus RX. And of course, it is indeed bigger than the regular SUV.
Whereas the standard Highlander is organic and curvy, the Grand Highlander is more slab-sided and creased. The nose sits higher with a razor-sharp leading edge. The grille design is also more closely related to the 4Runner than it is Toyota’s other SUVs. There’s much more cladding on the outside, too. The thick rear pillars do a good job hiding the SUV’s additional 6.5 inches of overall length. It’s also about 2 inches taller and wider than the regular Highlander.
The Grand Highlander’s interior features a newly designed dashboard. It has some similarities to the regular model but differs with its screen placement and a sort of second layer on top, and the screen stands apart as opposed to being more integrated. But space is where things really change. With all the seats up, the Grand Highlander can carry 20.6 cubic feet of stuff, 4.6 more than the regular Highlander. With all the seats down, the Grand Highlander’s cargo capacity expands to 97.5 cubic feet, 13.2 more than Highlander. Toyota didn’t give numbers for each row’s head and leg room, but with the extra height and length, we’re sure those will be improved across the board, too. Buyers also have the option of either a second-row bench seat or captain’s chairs.
The Grand Highlander’s grandest powertrain, which helps further separate it from the regular one, is the Hybrid Max. It combines a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a pair of electric motors and a six-speed automatic. In this application, it makes 362 horsepower, nearly as much as the version in the Lexus RX 500h. Toyota didn’t divulge torque or fuel economy numbers, but this powertrain will let the Grand Highlander tow 5,000 pounds of trailer.
But more Grand Highlanders will probably get the carry-over engines from the regular Highlander: the base turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder, and the optional naturally aspirated 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder. Again, Toyota didn’t give any specs on these except to say that they’re both available with either front- or all-wheel drive, and the hybrid is expected to get a quite impressive 34 mpg combined. Odds are, power and torque will be unchanged, with the turbo engine offering 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, and the hybrid offering 243 combined horsepower. And while we’re talking about the specs from the short SUV, the turbo engine is rated for 5,000 pounds of towing, while the hybrid is limited to 3,500.
Three trims will be available for the Grand Highlander: XLE, Limited and Platinum. Standard features across all models are alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen running Toyota’s latest system, wireless phone charging, seven USB-C ports, 13 cup holders, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist and automatic high-beam headlights. Noteworthy features on higher trims include larger wheels, LED lighting, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated and ventilated seats, panoramic sunroof, parking sensors and stop-and-go functionality for the adaptive cruise control.
The Grand Highlander will go on sale sometime this year. Availability and pricing will be announced this summer.