What do our specialists think about the 2023 Toyota Highlander? We take a look at powertrain, interior choices, trim models, and more. Read our review here.

What’s New for the 2023 Toyota Highlander?

Sporting handsome contoured body lines, the 2023 Toyota Highlander is part of the fourth generation that arrived in 2020. Fighting for buyers in a highly competitive segment, this 3-row SUV trades on the option for hybrid fuel efficiency and Toyota’s reputation for reliability. The big news for 2023 is a turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder that replaces the long-running 3.5L V6, a story we cover here. On the features front, Limited and Platinum models now have dual 12.3” cockpit screens as standard equipment and Cypress is a newly available paint color.

2023 Toyota Highlander - toyota.com

2023 Toyota Highlander – toyota.com |  Shop 2023 Toyota Highlander on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $37,755





Fuel Economy

22 City / 29 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats


Seats 7 or 8

The Breakdown

Stand-out styling

Hybrid efficiency

Plenty of tech

New motor not much more efficient

Relatively tight rear legroom

Few package upgrades

A thinly veiled Lexus

2023 Highlander Specs

Trims & Pricing

L - $37,755
LE- $40,155
Hybrid LE - $41,555
XLE - $43,155
Hybrid XLE - $44,555
XSE - $44,750
Hybrid Bronze Edition - $47,115
Limited - $47,410
Hybrid Limited - $48,810
Platinum - $50,610
Hybrid Platinum - $52,010

2023 Toyota Highlander Powertrain

2023 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com

In the interest of trimming harmful emissions like NOx– by 50% per Toyota – the naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 is gone, replaced by a turbocharged 2.4L inline-4. Rated for 265 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, this new standard setup pairs with an 8-speed automatic to drive the front wheels. All-wheel drive is optional across the board, adding between $1600 and $1950 depending on the model.

The XSE, Limited, and Platinum models come with a special AWD system that adds Dynamic Torque Vectoring and Driveline Disconnect. This fancier setup can disengage the rear wheels at cruising speed to improve fuel economy and actively manages torque between the left and right rear wheels. It also adds Mud & Sand and Rock & Dirt settings to the drive mode selector.

Like the Ford Explorer, the 2023 Toyota Highlander offers a hybrid powertrain. It is available on all trim levels except base L and only adds about $1,000. Pairing a naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder and dual electric motors with a continuously variable automatic transmission, this variant is most notable for its much-improved MPG ratings. All 2023 Highlanders ride on a fully independent suspension, tuned for cushiness. Selecting the sporty XSE brings stiffer springs, revised dampers, and an added rear stabilizer bar, but it’s a gentle improvement that promises only slightly sharper responses.

Towing & Payload

2023 Toyota Highlander - toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander - toyota.com

The base 2023 Toyota Highlander can tow 5,000 pounds and comes standard with trailer sway control and hill start assist. Toyota makes it easy on the consumer by rating every gas-powered model for the same towing capacity with no packages required to hit that figure. Fitting the hybrid powertrain brings the tow rating down to 3,500 pounds.

2023 Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy & MPG

With the turbocharged powertrain, a 2023 Highlander is rated for 22 mpg around town on 29 on the highway. Adding AWD reduces each of those figures by one mpg. Those looking to stretch each gallon of gas should look at the hybrid models with their ratings of 36/35 mpg in city/highway driving for FWD versions. As we note in this Highlander vs. Telluride comparison, the Kia cannot compete here as it does not offer a hybrid model.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

Every 2023 Highlander comes with three rows of seating that can handle eight passengers with a second-row bench or seven when fitted with captain’s chairs. Both rear rows recline for comfort and fold flat for cargo storage, but legroom back there is lacking relative to the competition. A Kia Telluride offers 42 inches of second-row legroom and 31 for the wayback. The Highlander comes in at 39 and 28 inches, respectively, for those metrics and falls five cubic feet short of the Telluride in cargo room behind the third row at just 16 cubic feet.

Upholstery ranges from cloth and SofTex leatherette to genuine leather on top models. The Bronze Edition adds handsome bronze-colored stitching and accents to the “mid-century-inspired” seat design for a decidedly ritzy look. Triple-zone automatic climate control is standard fare, but heated seats don’t arrive until the XLE model, and for luxuries like a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats, you’ll need at least a Highlander Limited.

Entertainment & Technology

2023 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander - pressroom.toyota.com

Entry-level 2023 Highlanders are fitted with an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen but the headline piece is the available 12.3-inch display and matching digital gauge cluster. This abundance of screen real estate helps the Highlander take first place in our rankings of the Best 3-Row SUVs.

Wireless connection for Apple and Android smartphones is lineup-standard and for 2023, Toyota moved the available wireless charging pad to a more convenient location at the bottom of the center stack. An available 11-speaker JBL audio system with 1100 watts of power should please audiophiles and features like a digital rearview mirror help justify the Platinum’s $50,000 price tag.

Safety Features

Toyota’s emphasis on safety is clear with the 2023 Highlander and its seven standard driver aids including Forward Collison Mitigation and Lane Keeping Assist. Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic High Beams are also included, but blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert require at least an LE.

New this year is 10 years of included Safety Connect services that Toyota refers to as a “trial” period. Semantics aside, this useful tech enables automatic collision notification and a stolen vehicle locator. All of this helps the Highlander earn top ratings from both IIHS and NHTSA.

2023 Toyota Highlander Trims & Pricing

2023 Toyota Highlander L - toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander L - toyota.com

L – $37,755

The only Highlander coming in under 40 grand, base L models sport 18-inch alloys and full LED lighting. Cloth covers the seating surfaces and triple-zone automatic climate control is standard. An 8-inch central touchscreen manages Apple CarPlay and Android, which can connect wirelessly and five USB ports are ready for all your devices.

2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - pressroom.toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid - pressroom.toyota.com

LE -$40,155

Every model from the LE on up can be fitted with the hybrid powertrain for an extra $1,000. Other improvements at this level include a power-operated liftgate and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

2023 Toyota Highlander Wireless Charging Pad - toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander Wireless Charging Pad - toyota.com

XLE – $43,155

Highlander XLE is spruced up with a moonroof and SofTex upholstery in a choice of black, gray, or tan. Heated front seats are added here as is an auto-dimming rearview mirror and wireless charging pad.

2023 Toyota Highlander XSE - toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander XSE - toyota.com

XSE – $44,750

With a deep front valence, black exterior trim, and 20” alloys, the XSE is the athletic Highlander. It sits on sport-tuned suspenders and can be fitted with racy Cockpit Red leather upholstery.

2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition - toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition - toyota.com

Hybrid Bronze Edition – $47,115

Only offered as a hybrid, the Bronze Edition looks smart with its exclusive Cement finish and those sweet bronze-colored rims, complemented by bronze accents throughout the cabin.

2023 Toyota Highlander Digital Gauge Cluster - pressroom.toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander Digital Gauge Cluster - pressroom.toyota.com

Limited – $47,410

Limited models and above come with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen of the same size. They also feature a hands-free liftgate, climatized front seats, a heated steering wheel, and an upgraded JBL audio system.

2023 Toyota Highlander Platinum - toyota.com
2023 Toyota Highlander Platinum - toyota.com

Platinum – $50,610 

Top-dog Platinum trim adds chrome to the mix along with adaptive headlights, a panoramic moonroof, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Interior upgrades include a 10-inch head-up display, a heated second row, and a digital rearview mirror. 


Toyota’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage are in line with the industry average. Where they stand out is the two years or 25,000 miles of complimentary factory maintenance, something Kia does not offer.

What we think

2023 Toyota Highlander - toyota.com

2023 Toyota Highlander – toyota.com |  Shop 2023 Toyota Highlander on Carsforsale.com

Toyota has been making the Highlander for over 20 years and as we note in this new vs. used comparison, it’s been a well-rounded SUV for a long time. Without doubt, the 2023 Toyota Highlander is the best version yet with ample power from the base motor, excellent fuel economy in hybrid form, and pretty much all the latest available gizmos.

While it does fall a bit short of the competition on cabin legroom and cargo space, the new Highlander is still an excellent 3-row SUV. I’m a sucker for those sweet rims on the Bronze edition against the killer Cement paint job. Add in the hybrid efficiency and that’d be the Highlander for me. Be sure to check out the latest new car incentives before heading to the dealership.

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Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his 1990 Cherokee and 1989 Starion, so it’s not surprising that he would put his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Hampshire to use in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer. Now engineering sentence structures, his writing infuses his auto experience with his time in marketing and his sales experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he focuses on some of the more technical mechanical systems that are found under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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