Toyota Highlander greets 2017 model year with more power, greater efficiency and more grades

Article by Christian A., on October 6, 2016

Typically, a vehicle with more engine power consumes more fuel. But not the new 2017 Toyota Highlander. The latest iteration of the Highlander is now more powerful yet more fuel efficient and is still a nest of advanced technologies designed to deliver a whole new level of convenience, comfort and safety.

The new 2017 Toyota Highlander now also provides more space and is capable of accommodating up to eight people with its three-row seating. Highlander V6 models could be availed in different grades -- LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum and the new SE -- in either front-wheel or all-wheel drives. Highlander Hybrid could be availed in Limited and Platinum models, and two new LE and XLE grades.

Interestingly, the new Toyota Highlander is loaded with several technologies – including safety features -- as standard. For instance, the new 2017 Highland is fitted with the Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) driver-assist technology that employs millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to detect a preceding pedestrian or vehicle, as well as visible lane markers in the nearby areas.

Thus, TSS-P could help identify obstacles on the road, and when necessary, automatically apply braking. Technologies included in the TSS are: Automatic High Beams; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function; and Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function.

Toyota recently decided to make automatic emergency braking as a standard feature on nearly all Highlander models by the end of 2017 (or 2018 model year), which means Toyota is around four years early of the industry target (2022 model year) as disclosed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The Highlander’s strong sense of safety is backed by the fitment of a standard back-up camera on all models. Highlander XLE and above grade are installed with a standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (BSM w/RCTA).

Not only that, the new 2017 Highlander Limited Platinum grades features a standard Bird's Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan, which makes use of four cameras mounted on the front and rear ends as well as on the side mirrors to provide drivers with a panoramic view of the vehicle surroundings on its central multimedia monitor.

In addition, this system has now made it easier to maneuver during parallel parking and when pulling in and out of parking spaces through driver assistance. This system also comes with Perimeter Scan that allows drivers to detect possible obstacles in certain conditions by providing a live rotating 360-degree view around the Highlander.

Exterior Design

While more powerful in performance, the new 2017 Highlander now boasts of a more elegant road presence, thanks to certain exterior modifications. For instance, the front grille of the Highlander LE, LE Plus and XLE models are finished in silver, while that on the Limited and Platinum grades are painted in chrome.

For the 2017 model year, the Highlander is provided with redesigned and sleeker LED taillights as standard, while the Limited and Platinum models are specified with stylish rear bumper chrome garnishes.

The new 2017 Highlander could be finished in any of these new exterior colors like Celestial Silver Metallic and Toasted Walnut Pearl. The new SE grades could be finished in Salsa Red Pearl.

On the other hand, the Highlander Limited and Limited Platinum grades models could now be availed with a bench-style middle row seat that allows them to seat eight passengers, in addition to the seven-passenger configurations with middle-row captain's chairs.

Meanwhile, the Highlander Limited Platinum could be specified with a new brown leather interior. It is now easier to recharge devices inside the new Highlander, as all models now come with five USB ports from just one previously.

New Highlander SE is targeted towards customers looking for a sportier version that boasts of greater functionality and a more premium appearance and feel. Powered by a V6 engine, the Highlander SE could accommodate seven passengers. It is distinguished from other grades with its dark-painted front grille, headlamp housings and roof rails as well as distinct 19-inch wheels.

In addition, it is specified with specially tuned front and rear suspensions for greater handling agility. This dark treatment continues inside with the distinct black leather-trimmed seats with silver stitching and pattern inserts as well as matching dark dash and door accents.


Serving as the heart of the 2017 Toyota Highlander is a new 3.5-liter V6 D-4S Injection engine that boasts of 25 hp more output and 15 lb.-ft. more torque than its predecessor. This means that it now delivers 295 hp of max output and 263 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Featuring Dual VVT-i, this V6 engine is also the base engine for the Highlander Hybrid, which is now offered in two more entry-level grades -- LE and XLE.

All Toyota Highlander V6 models -- excluding LE – comes with the new Stop and Start Engine System (S&S) that could shut off the engine as soon as the vehicle comes to a complete halt. This system would then restart the engine as soon as the brake pedal is depressed. This function results to a quieter engine during a stop as well as lower fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

This revised V6 engine is mated to a new Direct Shift 8AT eight-speed automatic gearbox. Since this new transmission features eight ratios -- compared to just six in the 2016 V6 Highlander – it allows for greater performance during acceleration and overtaking. This new transmission boasts of an expanded torque converter lock-up range, resulting to a more direct driving feel and higher level of efficiency.

Both the V6 engine and the new gearbox incorporate new developments in friction reduction. With these attributes, all-wheel-drive Highlander models return an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, compared to 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway of the 2016 model.

On the other hand, the front-wheel-drive Highlander LE is powered by a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 185 hp of max output and 184 pound-feet of peak torque.

Thanks to Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), this four-cylinder offers a thick torque curve. Mated to a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, this four-cylinder returns an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Press Release

The Year of More for the 2017 Highlander with More Power, More Safety, and More Model Choices

More power and fuel economy? That’s the name of the game for the 2017 Highlander thanks to its new 3.5-liter V6 D-4S Injection engine and Direct Shift – 8AT 8-speed automatic transmission. Taking full advantage of this revised powertrain is a new-for-2017 SE grade that brings a premium, sporty personality to the lineup. Not to be out shined by its gas-sipping siblings, the Highlander Hybrid adds two additional entry-level grades – LE and XLE – to its popular range. All Highlander models receive revised front and rear styling and enhanced interior convenience and comfort. Long story short, it’s great to be a Highlander buyer for 2017.

The Highlander is among numerous Toyotas having the innovative and highly advanced Toyota Safety Sense™ P driver-assist technology as standard. Using millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera sensor to detect a preceding pedestrian, a preceding vehicle, and visible lane markers in the surrounding area, TSS-P can help the driver identify obstacles and automatically apply braking if necessary to help mitigate or avoid collisions in certain conditions. TSS-P includes the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Automatic High Beams.

In the spring of 2016, Toyota committed to making automatic emergency braking standard on nearly all models by the end of 2017 (2018 Model Year). This decision will place Toyota four years ahead of the model-year 2022 industry target announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – before any other full-line automaker.

Performance Infusion
The Highlander V6 has steadily made strides in performance over its lifespan, but for 2017, the powertrain upgrade is perhaps the most dramatic. The new 3.5-liter D-4S Injection V6 pushes output to 295 horsepower and 263 lb.-ft. of torque, which represent increases of 25 hp and 15 lb.-ft., respectively, over the 2016 Highlander V6. The new V6 also becomes the base engine for the Highlander Hybrid and features Dual VVT-i.

Making best use of the engine’s upgraded performance and efficiency, the V6 Highlander now employs a new Direct Shift – 8AT 8-speed automatic transmission. The eight ratios, compared to six in the 2016 V6 model, benefit the Highlander’s acceleration and passing abilities. Both the engine and transmission incorporate new advances in friction reduction, while the transmission delivers a more direct driving feel and higher level of efficiency by expanding the torque converter lock-up range. Fuel economy for all-wheel drive models improves to an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway, versus 18/24 for the 2016 model.

Highlander V6 models (excluding LE) get another new feature: Stop and Start Engine System (S&S). This new system allows the engine to shut off when the vehicle comes to a complete stop, and then restarts when the driver’s foot lifts from the brake pedal. S&S is designed to reduce emissions, help reduce fuel consumption, and provide a quieter in-cabin experience for passengers when the vehicle is at a complete stop.

The LE front-wheel drive model’s standard 185-horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine uses Variable-Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) to produce a thick torque curve. It’s teamed with a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The combination yields an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway.

All Highlander V6 models come standard with a towing package that allows for a maximum towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds. The package includes a heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler, 200-watt fan coupling, supplemental transmission oil cooler and 150-amp alternator.

The View from Above – and Behind, and All Around
The Highlander’s sleek and strong design ensures ample visibility for the driver – a trait that is augmented on all models with a standard back-up camera. On the XLE grade and above, the Highlander receives a standard Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (BSM w/RCTA).

Taking visibility and safety to new heights, the 2017 Highlander Limited Platinum grades arrive with a standard-issue Bird’s Eye View Camera with Perimeter Scan.

This Toyota technology employs four cameras that are mounted on the front, the side mirrors and rear of the vehicle to project a panoramic view of the vehicle’s surroundings on the central multimedia monitor. The system offers drivers assistance when parallel parking, and when pulling in and out of parking spaces. The Bird’s Eye View Camera system also features a Toyota-first function called Perimeter Scan, which provides a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle, helping the driver to see potential obstacles in certain conditions.

More Consumer Choice
The third-generation Highlander, now entering its fourth year, offers room for up to eight with three-row seating. While the gas V6 model adds the sporty SE grade, the Highlander Hybrid adds two new grades, (LE and XLE), joining the Limited and Platinum models for a total of four. Accompanying the gas model’s all-new SE grade are LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum, all available in either FWD or AWD.

A Bigger Touch of Luxury
The 2017 Highlander conveys a more elegant presence in all grades for 2017.
The front grille on LE, LE Plus and XLE grades features a silver-painted finish, while Limited and Platinum grades have a painted chrome finish. The taillights are redesigned for a sleeker look and now feature standard LEDs, and the Limited and Platinum models receive tasteful rear bumper chrome garnishes.

Three new exterior colors look as luxurious as they sound: Celestial Silver Metallic, Toasted Walnut Pearl, and, exclusively on the new SE, Salsa Red Pearl.

Inside, all Highlander add four USB ports for a total of five, making charging personal devices easier (and possibly helping to keep the peace on long family trips).

Limited and Limited Platinum grades, previously offered only in seven-passenger configurations with middle-row captain’s chairs, now offer a bench-style middle row seat from other grades for eight-passenger seating. The Limited Platinum also offers a lavish new brown leather interior.

Sporty New SE Grade
Meet the SE, a perfect blend of sportiness, premium looks and feel, and functionality. Its trim-specific dark paint treatment for the front grille, headlamp housings and roof rails, combined with unique 19-inch wheels, give the SE an athletic stance and stunning style. The SE goes beyond sporty looks and rides atop specially tuned front and rear suspension that tightens handling agility.

Inside, passengers will notice unique black leather-trimmed seats having silver stitching and pattern inserts, plus matching dark dash and door accents. The SE comes as a V6-powered model in FWD or AWD, and will have a seating capacity fit for seven passengers.

Family Size Pack
Easy to drive and park, the Highlander packs a lot of room into its 192.5-inch length. That’s just a few inches longer than a midsize sedan, yet, the Highlander offers three-row seating and up to 158.7 cu. ft. total cabin volume. A one-step second-row sliding seat function on both driver and passenger sides makes entering the third-row easy. Third-row passengers get a standard recline function.

Should the driver or co-pilot need to convey any special instructions to third-row passengers, such as, “Stop annoying each other,” shouting won’t be necessary anymore. XLE grades and above come standard with Driver Easy Speak. A microphone located in the overhead console amplifies the driver’s voice and broadcasts it, one-way, through the audio system’s rear speakers.

With all seat rows in use, an impressive 13.8 cu. ft. of carrying space behind the third row can be utilized. Fold the 60/40 split fold-flat third-row seatbacks to open the space to 42.3 cu. ft., and then 83.7 cu. ft. with the 60/40 split fold-flat second row also lowered.

A Quiet Place
The Highlander has long been renowned for its quiet interior, and the current version is no exception. The solid body structure, combined with finely tuned MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension, deliver a capable and smooth ride quality.

The roster of sound-control features includes three hydraulic engine mounts, acoustic-type windshield glass along with a dash silencer and extensive body sealing. Even the available panoramic moonroof was designed to reduce wind noise even when open.

The improved quietness, along with a soft-touch instrument panel and silver-painted, satin, and chrome-plated accents, add to the Highlander’s overarching premium feel. High quality materials and extensive standard equipment underscore the renowned Toyota value.

Upholstery choices begin at the LE’s premium fabric level which trims both front and second row seats, and progresses into the available SofTex® synthetic trim, then culminates at the available smooth or perforated leather. The LE Plus grade and above feature contrast stitching an all seats, and on the Limited grade, wood-grain pattern trim on the dash and doors add touches of elegance. New for 2017, Limited Platinum vehicles receive a unique wood accent.

One of the cabin’s many highlights, the roll-top center console, provides a big, comfortable armrest easily shared by the driver and front passenger. This console’s inner storage box is roomy enough to hold a very large handbag. An LCD Multi-Information Display within the gauge cluster puts vital information in the driver’s line of sight. New for 2017, the LE and LE Plus grades replace their 3.5-inch black and white screen from 2016 with a 4.2-inch color screen displaying odometer, current/average fuel economy, cruising range, and an ECO driving indicator. Drivers of higher grades will notice a 4.2-inch color LCD MID providing odometer, current/average fuel economy, cruising range, average speed, AWD torque distribution (AWD gas models only), cruise control guide, navigation with turn-by-turn directions, audio status, hands-free incoming call notices, telephone information, Eco driving indicator, and energy monitor (Hybrid models only).

Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive (AWD)
SUV drivers nowadays expect an effective, and seamless, all-wheel drive drivetrain. The Gas V6 Highlander models offer Dynamic Torque Control AWD, a sophisticated driving partner that helps get the vehicle through all sorts of slippery situations.

The system takes input from various sensors (vehicle speed, steering speed and angle, throttle angle and yaw rate) to actively govern torque distribution to the rear wheels via an electromagnetically controlled coupling in the rear differential. Dynamic Torque Control AWD automatically shifts to AWD when the steering wheel is turned and when accelerating to help prevent wheel slippage, or when sensors detect wheel slippage in other situations, and can vary front-to-rear torque distribution from 100:0 to 50:50.

Under normal cruising conditions, the system remains in front-wheel drive to help reduce fuel consumption. An AWD LOCK switch holds the 50:50 torque split for certain low-speed driving situations in challenging conditions up to 25 MPH. The multi-information display conveys torque-distribution info. A sophisticated, high-speed interactive management system coordinates control of the AWD, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electric Power Steering systems to help enhance performance, handling and safety.

Highlander Hybrid: Higher Power, Higher Fuel Efficiency
The 2017 Highlander Hybrid is one of eight hybrid models offered by Toyota. Available for 2017 in LE, XLE, Limited and Limited Platinum grades, the Highlander Hybrid impresses with its outstanding power and efficiency.

The Hybrid Synergy Drive system pairs the new Direct-Injection 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator produces 306 total system horsepower for strong acceleration and passing performance. The Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient Highlander too, with an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city/28 mpg highway/29 mpg combined fuel economy rating.

All Highlander Hybrid models come equipped with Electronic On-Demand All-Wheel-Drive System with intelligence (AWD-i) as standard. Instead of transfer gears and a driveshaft to the rear wheels, this AWD-i system employs a second, independent electric motor to drive the rear wheels when needed to help maintain optimal traction.

Toyota Value in Every Grade
The 2017 Highlander starts with the high-value LE grade and progresses to the LE Plus with added equipment. Next come the XLE with even more amenities, the SE and its athletic presence, followed by the top-of-the-line Limited with added luxuries such as heated and ventilated front seats, available heated second-row outboard or captain’s seats and a heated steering wheel (on the Platinum Package).

The LE and LE Plus grades are well-equipped “mono-spec” grades, therefore no option packages are offered. The standard equipment rosters are quite extensive, with the LE featuring:
18-inch alloy wheels
Entune® Audio featuring a 6.1-inch touchscreen
Bluetooth® phone and music streaming
Integrated backup camera
Seating for eight with second- and third-row 60/40 split fold-flat seats
Heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators
Windshield wiper de-icer.
Tow Package on V6 models
The “Plus” for the LE Plus grade adds:
Fabric and SofTex®-trimmed seats
Fog lights
Height-adjustable power rear liftgate with flip-up rear hatch window
8-way power driver seat with lumbar support
Entune™ Audio Plus with SiriusXM® Satellite Radio and HD Radio™ featuring an 8-inch display monitor
Three-zone automatic climate control
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
The XLE adds a wide array of comfort and convenience features, including:
Leather-trimmed seats
Heated front seats
Smart Key System with push button start
Power tilt-slide moonroof
Driver Easy Speak
Second-row integrated sun shades
Chromtec® roof rails
4.2-inch color multi-information display
Anti-theft system
Entune™ Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite features
The SE brings premium, sporty attributes to the lineup, including:
Dark Paint treatment to front grill, headlamp housing, and roof rails
19-in. split multi-spoke machined-face alloy wheels with black finish and black center caps
Black leather–trimmed seats with silver stitching and pattern seat inserts
Black front tray color with Matching dash/door technical pattern inserts
Sport tuned front and rear suspension (coil springs and shocks)
In the XLE and SE, the Blu-ray® DVD rear-seat entertainment system is also available.

Crossing into Luxury Territory
Once buckled into the Highlander Limited’s comfortable seats, passengers have successfully crossed into luxury territory. In addition to the new painted chrome grille finish, the Limited dons a set of 19-inch Chromtec® alloy wheels. Inside, Blue LED ambient lighting around the dash and doors adds a touch of high-tech elegance, and numerous amenities raise the comfort quotient considerably.

Seating for seven includes second-row captain’s chairs, perforated leather-trimmed seats, heated and ventilated front seats, a 4-way power passenger seat, and memory settings for the driver seat and side mirrors. Limited also features updated puddle lamps that now feature a Highlander Projection.

Added safety features include rear parking assist sonar, while entertainment is upgraded with Entune™ Premium JBL® Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite. Adding the Platinum Package takes Highlander to the top with Bird’s Eye View Camera, a panoramic moonroof, heated steering wheel, heated second-row captain’s chairs or outboard chairs in the optional bench seat, rain-sensing windshield wipers, dark chrome finish to the 19” Chromtec® wheels and more.

Superior Safety
All 2017 Highlanders have eight standard airbags and Toyota’s Star Safety System™, which includes Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Anti-lock Braking System, and Smart Stop Technology®. All Highlanders also come equipped with a standard backup camera and Hill-start Assist Control. AWD Gas models feature standard Downhill Assist Control (DAC).

Toyota Safety That Makes Sense
The standard Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P) driver assist system bundles cutting edge active safety technologies including Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection function (PCS w/PD) featuring forward collision warning and Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist function (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC).

The Pedestrian Detection function of Pre-collision System (PCS) uses a camera and radar to detect a pedestrian ahead of the vehicle in certain conditions. When the system determines there is a possibility of collision, it prompts the driver to brake with an audio and visual alert. If the driver notices the hazard and brakes, the system may provide additional braking force using Brake Assist. If the driver fails to brake in a set time and the system determines that the risk of collision with a pedestrian is extremely high, the system may automatically apply the brakes, reducing speed in order to help the driver avoid the collision or reducing the impact.

Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist function uses an in-vehicle camera designed to detect visible white and yellow lane markers in front of the vehicle and the vehicle’s position on the road. If the system determines that the vehicle is starting to unintentionally deviate from its lane, the system alerts the driver with an audio and visual alert. When the alerts occur, the driver must check the surrounding road situation and carefully operate the steering wheel to move the vehicle back to the center part of their lane.

In addition to the alert function of LDA, TSS-P equipped vehicles with EPS will feature a Steering Assist function. When equipped and enabled, if the system determines that the vehicle is on a path to unintentionally depart from its lane, the system may provide small corrective steering inputs to the steering wheel for a short period of time to help the driver keep the vehicle in its lane.

On highways, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) functions similar to conventional “constant speed” cruise control in that it helps vehicles travel at a consistent speed set by the driver, but this system adds a vehicle-to-vehicle distance control mode designed to assist the driver by adjusting vehicle speed (within a set range) to help maintain a pre-set distance to a preceding vehicle when the preceding vehicle is traveling at a lower speed.

Once a vehicle speed is set by the driver, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control uses a front-grill mounted millimeter-wave radar and an in-vehicle camera designed to detect a preceding vehicle and help determine its distance.

If the vehicle ahead is detected traveling at a speed slower than your set speed or within your distance range setting, the system is designed to automatically decelerate the vehicle without having to cancel the cruise control. When a greater reduction in vehicle speed is necessary, the system may apply the brakes and operate the vehicle brake lights. The system will then respond to changes in the speed of the vehicle ahead in order to help maintain the vehicle-to-vehicle distance set by the driver. When there is no longer a preceding vehicle driving slower than the vehicle’s set speed, the system accelerates until the set speed is reached and returns to the pre-set speed cruising.

Automatic High Beams (AHB) helps enhance forward visibility during nighttime driving. It uses a camera to detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and the tail lights of vehicles ahead, and then automatically switches between high beams and low beams so as not to interfere with other drivers.

Limited Warranty
Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and corrosion with no mileage limitation. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The Highlander also comes standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) in Princeton, Ind., which employs over 4,000 American workers, assembles all Highlanders and exports them to 12 countries.

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