Picture this ordinary Highlander, but longer.
Like most automakers today, Toyota’s crossover and SUV lineup splits the pie pretty narrowly. Excluding the battery-electric BZ4X and distinctions between hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the brand currently offers seven: the C-HR, Corolla Cross, RAV4, Highlander, Venza, 4Runner and Sequoia. There’s certainly some overlap there in terms of size and capability. But the company isn’t satisfied, as it’ll make room for one more SUV next year — the three-row Grand Highlander.
Toyota teased the quietly rumored new model Thursday, announcing it’ll be revealed to the world on February 8 at the Chicago Auto Show. The existing Highlander already offers a third row, as does the more expensive 4Runner, though neither is particularly spacious. The Sequoia is, but is also considerably more expensive. There’s also still the Sienna, which is what most families would probably best benefit from — but that’s a minivan, damn it. Can’t be having that, can we?
A brightened edit of Toyota’s teaser of the upcoming 2023 Grand Highlander.
So the Highlander will elongate to become a better option for those who take long road trips involving lots of people and don’t want a Sienna. If you look closely at the lone teaser provided, you can barely make out a JPG-crunched “Hybrid Max” badge on the tailgate — a familiar sight from the top-spec version of the Toyota Crown... lifted sedan? (Still not sure what to call that thing.) The Hybrid Max Crown combines a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a pair of electric motors, producing a sum of 340 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.
Otherwise, all we can glean from the image is that the Grand Highlander will sport a different rear-end design from the standard version, with unique taillights and the name writ large, bridging them above the spot for the license plate. While Jeep doesn’t have the patent on “Grand” in a car name, most other brands have stopped using the regal modifier, and so I’m kind of surprised Toyota has willingly drawn the association with its competitor. I suppose it sounds better than “Highlonger” or “Highlander Plus.”
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