Auto review By Veeno Dewan
The 2022 Toyota Highlander has been given a makeover – the first since the2014 version and improves this popular family orientated SUV. The formula remains the same: good looks, performance, a comfortable cabin, and more tech features. The major change for the hybrid model is the exit of theV6 engine and its replacement with a four-cylinder engine with hybrid power in a new Bronze edition which offers all-wheel drive as standard. There are bronze accents on the exterior and inside, including 18-inch wheels. The bronze model also offers color matched interior stitching and illuminated door sills. The cabin also receives some unique design elements in the form of geometric-patterned upholstery with bronze-colored detailing and illuminated bronze-colored doorsill protectors. The Bronze model features a hands-free tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, digital rear-view mirror, 1,500-watt power outlet, welcome lighting with the Highlander logo, on-board mood lighting, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and LED daytime running lights. Overall, materials throughout the cabin are much improved over those in the last-generation Highlander.
The All-wheel drive system of the Hybrid Highlander uses a separate electric motor mounted at the rear to power the wheels when needed. This is mated to a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine and the two electric motors teaming up for a combined 243 horsepower in the Highlander Hybrid. The final drive is via a continuously variable automatic 8-speed transmission (CVT) and there is a choice between front- and all-wheel drive. Toyota promises an average of 6.7L/100 km in the Hybrid.
Interior wise- the Highlander comes with either an eight- or seven-seater cabin with a rear bench seat or second-row captain’s chairs available.
An 8.0-inch infotainment system comes standard on most trims, but the Highlander Limited and Platinum get a 12.3-inch display. An 11-speaker JBL audio system is available. Toyota provides SiriusXM satellite radio, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration for all models.
As is the Toyota way, the Highlander offers a comprehensive standard suite of driver-assistance features. The package includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and automatic high-beam headlamps.
Our Limited version was priced at $56,120 (including freight and PDE), which isn’t cheap. But you do get affair amount of equipment including such features as: power door locks, Qi-compatible wireless charging tray with light indicator, rear door sunshade, 110V Outlet x2 (1500w high output), and an integrated garage door opener, cabin air filter, 3-zone independent automatic, climate control, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, 7-in. colour TFT Multi Information Display, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink illuminated entry with fadeout, LED and Ambient Lighting.
Exterior equipment includes front & rear splash guards, panoramic moonroof, chrome roof rails, colour-keyed rear spoiler, and rear privacy glass. Interior room is good with comfortable seats all around and plenty of leg and headroom. Creature comforts and amenities are top class and there is plenty of oddment and cargo space.
On the road, the small displacement engine is obviously much more fuel efficient than the previous V6, and there is a decrease in acceleration and overall performance, thanks CVT instead of the non- hybrid’s eight-speed automatic. Power, at 243 hp and 263 lb-ft of torque, is sufficient for everyday driving. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to the Highlander’s handling. The new generation benefits from the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) and that translates into a more direct and involving experience behind the wheel. A note on towing capacity, the hybrid can pull 3500-lb in comparison with 5000 lb with the regular gasoline model. Safety is obviously very high with: Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Front Seat Mounted Side Airbags, Driver & Passenger Airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS), Child Protector Rear Door Locks, Front, Passenger Seat Cushion Airbag, Intelligent Clearance Sonar with Rear Cross Traffic Brake, and Front Seatbelt Pre-Tensioners with Force Limiters.
To sum up, the Highlander remains a well-rounded sensible choice within the 3-row crossover segment. It is not inexpensive having moved up a few notches into the premium sector. Still equipment levels are high along with the usual long-term reliability and high resale value. The hybrid model has a 10 year or 240,000km warranty on the hybrid battery pack, which is the longest of its kind. The segment is filled with many good competitors here, but the Highlander continues to lead the way for consumers, and that makes it an easy choice. In the market for a comfortable SUV that seats seven or eight? You can’t go wrong.
2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD priced from:$54,150
More info at www.toyota.ca