Getting around town in the 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE


Experienced by Adrian McQueen

Photography by Adrenaline Lifestyles


The 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE has proven to be a quality vehicle out of the Toyota fleet.  The Toyota Highlander, also known as the Toyota Kluger, is a 5-door mid-size crossover SUV.  After being announced in April 2000 at the New York International Auto Show, it hit the scene in late 2000 in Japan and January 2001 in North America. It was one of the first mid-size crossover SUV’s on the market and still one of the strongest on the market. The 2020 Toyota Highlander ranks highly in the midsize SUV class.

Upon first look, you notice the rugged styling of the Highlander. Our XLE version comes with integrated LED fog lamps, LED accent strips on the headlights, folding heated power side mirrors, 18-inch machine-finish alloy wheels and the power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade. The Highlander arrived in an Blizzard Pearl hue that added appeal of the SUV.

The interior of the Highlander is even more impressive. The XLE trim adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display with navigation, Softex-Trimmed seating, second row bench seat and a 360-degree view camera system. There is also a rear-seat entertainment system is available on all Highlanders except for the LE and LE Plus models. I would rather have the second-row captain’s chairs because they allow for more room as I have two baby seats in the vehicle with me. This is also a benefit in getting the bigger kids to their third-row seating, once in the vehicle.

The 2020 Highlander has four usb ports. There is also the Entune app suite, Bluetooth, voice recognition, tri-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, HD Radio, proximity key entry, push-button start, a 120-volt outlet and Driver Easy Speak. The dashboard’s layout includes several controls around the touch screen, although I feel that some are difficult to reach while driving. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are now included. The QI-Wireless Smartphone Charger is a great addition and easy to access once the vehicle is parked.

The Toyota Highlander seats up to seven people. I felt somewhat cramped with baby seats in the second-row bench seats. Overall, the seating was comfy but difficult to reach the third-row seating. The third-row seat is perfectly suitable for children. Adults can fit but it would not be comfortable over an extended amount of time. Having a young child, it was important to me that the Highlander has two complete sets of LATCH child-seat connectors in its second row. The lower anchors were pretty easy to access. The Highlander comes with a power liftgate that opens to good amount of cargo space. During this Pandemic, we have been purchasing more items per visit due to the fact that stock is limited so we need the space to load up on bulk items.

The Highlander provides a comfortable and quiet ride. Our tested Highlander comes with a 3.5-liter V6, delivering 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. The larger engine is optional with the base model. The 8-speed automatic transmission is a bit sluggish, after the initial press on the pedal, but once you get going it will hang with the best of them. The tested Highlander returns EPA fuel economy ratings of 20 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined. This is pretty decent for a V6-powered midsize SUV. The tested all-wheel version rides comfortably over most surfaces and has a quiet cabin. When properly equipped it can tow 5,000 pounds. This model also comes as AWD with Multi Terrain select.

Toyota does not mess around when it comes to safety. The Highlanders XLE trim Toyota Safety Sense-P pre-collision system includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection, rearview camera, lane-departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and a surround-view monitor.  The 2020 Highlander has not been rated yet but I am hopeful that it will match the high marks that it earned in 2019.

The Toyota Highlander competes with the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, GMC Acadia, Nissan Pathfinder, Mazda CX-9, Hyundai Santa Fe and Volkswagen Atlas. The Toyota Highlander is one of the best-selling midsize SUVs.  Toyota offers a limited warranty covering 3 years or 36,000 miles, a powertrain warranty covering 5 years or 60,000 miles and complimentary maintenance that is covered for 2 years or 25,000 miles. Our model tested comes in at $44,498.00. The Highlander is still selling well with many dealerships offering remote buying services to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The entire family had a great time riding around town in the 2020 Toyota Highlander XLE. The Highlander is spacious, stylish and comfortable. Definitely a winner in my book. Enjoy the photo gallery.


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