It looks like Toyota has just launched its revamped fourth generation Highlander utility vehicle, but the automaker is not wasting time refining the lineup. A sportier XSE model should join the family. It was just launched on the eve of the first Chicago Auto Show 2020 media day, and here are some of its subtleties.
Compared to a standard Highlander, this improved variant is equipped with a unique exterior design and has an improved cabin and even benefits from a newly tuned chassis. It should be more exciting to drive and interesting to watch.
Toyota has built thefor about 20 years, but this is the first time that it has been offered an XSE model. It differs from the common variants by a new front panel with a redesigned grille and a lower spoiler. Overall, this gives the family carrier a more planted and aggressive look. Unique headlight assemblies with black accents and strip-shaped daytime running lights round off the front end of the vehicle.
The special rocker arm trim and the machine-sighted 20-inch wheels underline the appearance. The roof rails, mirror caps and window moldings are all painted black. The XSE model is equipped with a chrome-plated twin exhaust tip, another innovation for the Highlander.
In addition to all of the design, this SUV is equipped with stiffer springs and a stronger rear stabilizer bar. Newly tuned shock absorbers with lower friction work in conjunction with these components. Due to these changes to the suspension, the electrically assisted power steering has been re-tuned to create a more responsive feel.
The Highlander XSE is available with either front-wheel drive or with all-wheel drive with dynamic torque transmission. This setup can send up to 50 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels. From there it can be mixed back and forth depending on the conditions or requirements of the driver in order to achieve better handling.
As with other Highlanders, this is also based on the TNGA platform, which means that it is robust, safe and Lexus-compatible. as in its refinement. Another thing that hasn't changed is the powertrain. The XSE models have a well-known 3.5-liter V6 engine that is matched to an attractive eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine delivers 295 horsepower and should deliver 263 pound-feet of torque.
Apart from the mechanical components, some remarkable improvements have been made inside. The seats are wrapped with SofTex, a synthetic leather, and provided with fabric inserts. White ambient lighting creates a mood, while a carbon fiber-like finish on the instrument panel gives a little visual texture. Red-black leather with red contrasting stitching on the dashboard is also available for drivers who want something different. This makes the Highlander either look super sporty or like a brothel.
To keep you connected, XSE models come with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and even Amazon Alexa. Five USB ports ensure that the whole family has electronic devices with juice. A JBL audio system with 11 speakers and 1,200 watts of power is available. So turn the album of the Kidz Bop party at full speed. Movements like Jagger sung by children never sounded better.
The Toyota Highlander XSE 2021 is scheduled to go on sale in autumn. The car manufacturer expects a share of around 12 percent of the total sales of this type plate. Pricing has not yet been released, but this model is said to be between the XLE and Limited classes, which means it is expected to start at around $ 42,000.
Originally published February 6.