Redesigned 2020 Toyota Highlander Is a Smooth Operator

Evolved midsized SUV shows improvements but faces tougher competition

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum press car Consumer Reports

This all-new Toyota Highlander has numerous updates throughout to make it feel more modern than its previous generation, but it doesn’t stray from the established Highlander formula. What has changed is its competitive landscape, with fresh models from Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru giving three-row SUV shoppers other compelling choices.

To get an early sense of how this new Highlander measures up, we rented a pre-production model from Toyota. It is a top-of-the-line Highlander Platinum with all the bells and whistles, giving us a chance to try out all the features. We will buy a more mainstream Highlander XLE when it reaches dealerships, allowing us to test what's expected to be the most-sold version.

We will put it through more than 50 tests at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, including those that evaluate acceleration, braking, fuel economy, handling, car-seat fit, and controls. Consumer Reports digital members will get access to that full evaluation as soon as it’s available.

We present our first impressions of the new Highlander below.

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Update: Since this first drive was originally published in December 2019, we finished testing the Highlander.

See the complete Toyota Highlander road test.

What we rented: 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD
Powertrain: 295-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
MSRP: $48,800
Options: Audio upgrade ($1,050), color ($425)
Destination fee: $1,120
Total cost: $51,395

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