Toyota Highlander Unveiled In NY; Hybrid Version Still In Lineup

Toyota revealed the third-generation of its Highlander mid-size SUV today at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

The new Highlander will be launched as a 2014 model year vehicle.

2014_Toyota_Highlander_Rear-668Toyota said an all-new exterior design conveys both refinement and strength, complementing a new interior that will raise the bar in the mid-size SUV segment.  With three-row seating for up to eight, an array of standard features, a host of available in-cabin technologies, and increased cargo capacity, the new Highlander will offer a nuanced  balance of style, comfort and utility.

The new Highlander will come with three powertrain choices: a 2.7 liters four-cylinder engine, the well-known 3.5 liters V6 which will be combined to a new six-speed transmission, and a V6-powered Hybrid Synergy Drive.

The Highlander’s body structure will include high-strength steel in the front pillars for increased rigidity.  Visibility has been improved through precise repositioning of the front A-pillars, while the size of the rear quarter glass has been increased to provide a wider view for driver and occupants.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is equipped with a variable intake manifold and dual Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), which controls phasing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts to optimize torque and fuel efficiency.

The 2.7-liter engine is linked to a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.

Toyota’s well known 3.5-liter V6 is also equipped with dual VVT-i and a variable intake manifold. Acceleration and fuel efficiency are improved through the use of a new six-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) that offers selectable manual sequential shifting.

The Highlander Hybrid model’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system returns, pairing the 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator for additional power and fuel efficiency.

Toyota said in its press release following the NY launch that the new Highlander will provide a more dynamic driving experience, with new technologies that include Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive (AWD), enhancements in suspension performance, and optimized electric power steering.  The spring rates and the shock absorbers have been optimally tuned to help enhance the vehicles handling characteristics.

The Highlander’s Dynamic Torque Control AWD system automatically shifts from front-wheel drive (FWD) to AWD when accelerating or when sensors detect wheel slippage.  The driver is able to view the torque-distribution settings on the meter display.

The Dynamic Torque Control AWD system continuously monitors and controls the torque transfer between the front and rear wheels via an electromagnetically controlled coupling positioned in the rear differential.

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Front to rear torque distribution can vary from 100:0 to 50:50, with front-wheel drive (100:0) automatically engaged under normal driving conditions to help improve fuel consumption.

The Dynamic Torque Control AWD system uses information sent from various sensors (speed, steering angle and speed, throttle angle and yaw rate) to automatically govern the transmission of torque to the rear wheels, as required.

An interactive management system coordinates control of the Dynamic Torque Control AWD, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electric Power Steering (EPS) systems to enhance Highlander’s performance, handling and safety.

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All new Highlanders will come equipped with Toyota’s Entune multimedia system.  The Display Audio system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and voice recognition is standard, while an eight-inch touchscreen system and Toyota’s Entune app suite with12 JBL speakers is also available.

The new Highlander will also offer an available Rear Seat Entertainment system with an RCA coaxial input terminal at the rear of the center console to allow external devices, such as gaming systems, to be connected.

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According to Toyota, all 2014 Highlander’s will have eight standard airbags.  Like every Toyota, Highlander will feature the standard Star Safety System, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, an Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology.  All Highlander’s will also come equipped with a standard backup camera and Hill-start Assist Control.  All AWD models will have an AWD LOCK switch.

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New available safety and convenience features include rear parking sonar, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Departure Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a Pre-collision System.

All Highlanders are assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) in Princeton, Ind. The all-new Highlander will reach dealer showrooms in early 2014.

Prices and fuel consumption ratings will be announced closer to sale date. This new Highlander will be found in dealerships early in 2014.