2021 Toyota Highlander [UK]

2021 Toyota Highlander [UK]

2021 Toyota Highlander [UK]

2021 Toyota Highlander [UK]

2021 Toyota Highlander [UK]

Highlander, Toyota's largest SUV, is on sale in the UK and western Europe for the first time, offered in an all-hybrid model range.

To create the new Highlander Hybrid, Toyota has drawn on 23 years' experience in making hybrid vehicles and more than 16 million global sales. The model's fourth generation selfcharging system provides up to 80 per cent emissions-free driving, combined with Toyota's renowned quality, durability and reliability.

Toyota Highlander joins RAV4, C-HR and the forthcoming Yaris Cross to complete a comprehensive Toyota European SUV line-up. In fact, it is Europe's largest hybrid SUV range; in the UK all these models are now hybrid-only.

Hitherto, electrification of large (E-segment) SUVs has tended to focus on plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology. Despite the benefits this offers, customers in this part of the market tend to travel longer distances with a greater percentage of motorway miles that a PHEV's electric range may not be able to meet. Highlander's self-charging hybrid powertrain and an electric cruising speed of up to 78mph (125km/h) efficiently meet the segment's customer needs.

Built on Toyota's GA-K platform, Highlander has the large SUV attributes of seven seats on demand, comfort, drivability and safety. The all-wheel drive 245bhp/182kW hybrid powertrain is exceptionally quiet and offers fuel economy (WLTP combined cycle) from 39.2 to 39.7mpg with 160 to 163g/km CO2 emissions. Acceleration is smooth and powerful, and Highlander can tow loads of up to two tonnes.

Exterior design

New Toyota Highlander Hybrid is 4,966mm long, 1,930mm wide and 1,755mm high and has a 2,850mm wheelbase. It has the sleek and sophisticated styling of a premium urban SUV while communicating the power, strength and durability of a rugged and versatile all-wheel drive model.

The wide front and rear tracks (1,662 and 1,690mm respectively) are given extra emphasis by flared wheel arches and the trapezoid shape of the upper and lower front grilles, reinforcing the car's broad and powerful stance.

In profile, there is a strong sense of dynamism generated by a sturdy, forward-leaning lower body and a rear-sloping, tapering cabin with blacked out pillars. Large, 20-inch alloy wheels add to the premium quality appearance - silver five-triple-spoke for the Excel model and dark grey/machined 10-spoke with the Premium.

The powerful look is further expressed in the wide flaring of the rear wheel arches, while the rear end is characterised by sharp, slim rear light clusters and large under-run.

Seven exterior paint colours are available, including a new Moondust blue pearlescent which uses a two-layer coating process. This gives a solid look with the lustre of pure metal.

Interior design

The interior is designed with all the practicality, durability and flexible space-on-demand expected of a seven-seat family SUV, while offering a comfortable and luxurious environment for everyone on board.

The instrument panel has a solid central element that houses the eight-inch multimedia display and flows across the full width of the dashboard, framed by smooth, soft-touch padding. It is visually supported by a wide, square centre console.

The switchgear is shaped to flow seamlessly from the panels and for ease of use. Satin and wood grain trim finishes add to the prestigious ambience, while the soft-touch padding uses finely textured leather with precise stitchwork. The interior is upholstered in black perforated leather with textured silver ornamentation and dark wood trim.


Toyota Highlander's generous 2,850mm wheelbase allows it to be a true seven-seater. A 180mm sliding range for the second row seat means there is spacious and accessible accommodation in the two third row seats, comfortable for adults to use. Legroom for front seat passengers is up to 1,067mm; 1,043mm in the second row; and 703mm in the third row.

The power tailgate has a kick-sensor function on the Excel Premium model giving easy hands-free access to the load compartment. When all seven seats are in place, this provides 332 litres of storage, including 27 litres beneath the floor. When second and third row seats are folded flat, the space increases to 1,909 litres.

There are further storage spaces throughout the cabin, together with power, USB and external HDMI sockets and ports in the front and second row seat areas.


Toyota Highlander is available in two high-specification versions in the UK: Excel and Excel Premium.

The Toyota Highlander Excel equipment features include seven-inch TFT multi-information display in the driver's instrument binnacle; multimedia system with a central eight-inch display, satellite navigation and smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto); wireless smartphone charger; triple-zone air conditioning; heated and ventilated front seats; heated steering wheel; power tailgate; Skyview panoramic roof, black leather seat upholstery; and 11-speaker JBL Premium Sound System.

Customers choosing the Excel Premium further gain kick-activated (hands-free) tailgate operation; ventilated front seats; heated outer second row seats; digital rear-view mirror; Panoramic View Monitor; and a head-up display.

Options (available for both models) include an Essential Protection Pack (boot liner and chrome bumper protection plate); black side steps with stainless steel grips; and seven/13- pin towbars.

On-the-road prices are £50,595 for the Highlander Excel and £52,575 for the Excel Premium. Both are protected by Toyota's five-year/100,000-mile new vehicle warranty.


Highlander uses Toyota's fourth generation self-charging hybrid electric system, combining a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine with front and rear electric motors (giving the SUV intelligent all-wheel drive) and a nickel-metal hydride battery, located beneath the second row of seats.

Smooth, powerful acceleration is delivered on demand and the car can cruise on all-electric power at speeds up to 78mph (125km/h). Appropriate for its size and status, Highlander can tow braked trailers of up to two tonnes.

The hybrid system's maximum power output of 245bhp/182kW enables 0-62mph acceleration in 8.3 seconds and a maximum speed of 111mph. WLTP combined cycle fuel consumption is from 39.2 to 39.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 160 to 163g/km.

The driver can select their preferred drive mode to suit the occasion or conditions - Eco, Normal, Sport and Trail. All four modes can still be used when the vehicle is operating in its (separately selectable) EV all-electric mode.

The four-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC 2,487cc Atkinson cycle engine has a world-class 41 per cent thermal efficiency. Its D-4S fuel injection system provides direct cylinder and port injection, the method changing according to the driving conditions to optimise power output and fuel efficiency. The engine's Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve-timing uses electric motor operation on the intake side rather than oil pressure control, which enhances output and fuel efficiency and reduces emissions.

The long bore and stroke ratio (87.5 x 103.48mm) and innovative cooling system combine to further improve the engine's overall efficient performance.

The hybrid system uses a smaller, lighter transaxle than its predecessor, adopting a dualaxis structure for the motor and generator. This delivers a low-loss gear train with a narrower width. The parallel axis design allows for a reduction in the motor's size and an increase in its rotation speed.

The gear ratio has been optimised for maximum fuel efficiency and dynamic performance. Resonance and noise have been suppressed by measures including polishing of the gear teeth and a new gear structure design, making the hybrid system quieter than ever before.

Noise and vibration

Noise and vibration levels are addressed with acoustic glass for the windscreen and front glazing, the positioning of silencers in the roof, dashboard and floor, and liners in the wheel arches and load space. These measures help ensure a noticeably quiet cabin environment.

Ride and handling

Toyota Highlander displays engaging, nimble handling and comfortable motorway cruising thanks to the high body rigidity and low centre of gravity delivered by the GA-K platform, sophisticated MacPherson strut front and trailing wishbone rear suspension systems and rack-mounted steering.

The ride characteristics are made even more comfortable thanks to the Ride Control with Torque Demand. This controls drive torque to the front wheels to reduce vehicle pitch caused by fluctuations in the road surface and reduce the bonnet lift that can occur under hard acceleration.

Intelligent all-wheel drive

The intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD-i) uses a new rear transaxle to improve maximum torque at the rear wheels. The rear electric motor system can provide 121Nm of torque and can transmit up to 1,300Nm to the rear wheels, boosting vehicle performance when moving from standstill, under acceleration and in slippery road conditions, without compromising noise, vibration, CO2 emissions or fuel economy.

Torque distribution to the front and rear wheels is precisely controlled, anywhere between 100:0 and 20:80, according to the driving conditions. The distribution ratio is shown on the multi-information display when AWD-i is in operation.


Numerous aerodynamic measures contribute to Toyota Highlander's superior stability, controllability and ride comfort and help improve fuel efficiency.

The body shell and underbody are optimised for aerodynamic performance. The bottom edge and side of the front bumper, the rear pillar, rear wings and roof spoiler are all shaped to smooth the flow of air over and away from the vehicle.

An air guide ensures airflow is directed efficiently and with minimum resistance to the radiator. When additional cooling isn't needed, the grille shutters close, reducing airflow resistance and helping speed engine warm-up.

In a first for a Toyota vehicle, the aero-ventilating alloy wheels provide both brake cooling and aerodynamic performance. The underbody has a large, flat undercover, which, together with front and rear wheel arch spats, smooths the passage of air beneath the car.

There are also mechanisms in the wheel arches that direct air flow away; reducing air pressure in the wheel arches increases the tyres' contact load, improving grip and vehicle stability.


Highlander is equipped with the latest Toyota Safety Sense active safety and driver assistance technologies, designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions in a wide range of traffic scenarios.

Elements include a Pre-Collision System that can detect pedestrians by day and night and cyclists during daytime driving, with Emergency Steering Assist and Intersection Turn Assistance; intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with curve speed reduction; Lane Trace Assist and Lane Departure Alert with steering control; Road Sign Assist; and Adaptive Highbeam System.

Updated Pre-Collision System

When the Pre-Collision System automatically activates braking, having determined a risk of colliding with a pedestrian, cyclist or other vehicle, Emergency Steering Assist is triggered simultaneously. This provides additional steering torque when the driver swerves the car to avoid the obstacle. After collision avoidance, the system provides deviation restraint to help keep the car in its traffic lane.

Intersection Turn Assistance recognises collision risks with oncoming traffic or pedestrians crossing the road the car is about to turn into, when making a turn at a junction. It warns the driver with an audible alert and applies automatic emergency braking if they do not respond.

Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with curve speed reduction

The intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) has automatic adjustment linked to the driver's use of the turn indicator. If the signal on the overtaking side is used while ACC is in operation, the system will apply preliminary acceleration to reduce the distance to the vehicle ahead, in preparation for changing lanes. After changing lanes, the vehicle will smoothly return to its pre-set speed.

The ACC is linked to the car's Road Sign Assist, so that vehicle speed can be automatically adjusted in line with changing speed limits. Curve speed reduction will slow the vehicle when it determines speed needs to be reduced through a bend.

Lane Trace Assist

Lane Trace Assist builds on the functionality of the Lane Departure Alert system to give uninterrupted, smooth driving support on motorways, even when there are frequent bends and in congested traffic.

When the system detects the possibility of the car deviating from its current lane, Lane Trace Assist will apply steering force to help the driver keep the car to its correct path. When the ACC is operating, it will provide steering support to the keep the car centred in its traffic lane.

The system has been improved with faster reactivation following a lane-change; an increased counter-steer angle to address any air turbulence and maintain a straight line when overtaking a large truck; earlier notice of a bend ahead with a radius beyond the system's capability; and increased steering force to keep the system active at higher speeds.

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