• The 2023 Toyota Highlander Turbo Is Torque-Happy and Eco-Friendly

The Highlander now comes with a turbocharged four-pot, torque vectoring, and dual 12.3-inch displays

Toyota’s most famous three-row budget SUV, the Highlander, is set to arrive with a new turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four engine, dual 12.3-inch displays for the driver information and infotainment, and a handful of new standard features. The Highlander is receiving constant updates since the fourth-generation came out in 2020, and the automaker is making it a lucrative offering with every new update.

What are the changes brought to the 2023 Toyota Highlander?

The 2023 Toyota Highlander Turbo Is Torque-Happy and Eco-Friendly Drivetrain
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The most important talking point of the 2023 Toyota Highlander is the heart of this three-row SUV. Toyota swapped the tried-and-tested 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 for a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four. Now, this new powertrain falls 30 horses short, but gains 46 pound-feet of torque, totaling up to 265 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque. The towing capacity remains untouched, with a capacity of up to 5,000 pounds.

With the new engine comes a new transmission system - an eight-speed torque converter automatic driving either the front wheels or all four wheels. The AWD models will have the latest torque vectoring system by default. Toyota is strongly claiming that the new engine will retain the 24 miles per gallon combined EPA ratings. Rest assured, the turbocharger action will better the city mileage figures by a tad bit. The Highlander Hybrid will remain unchanged, at least from the powertrain side of things, which means the 2.5-liter inline-four, mild hybrid engine will put out the same 243 horsepower.

2023 Toyota Highlander specifications
Engine 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four
Power 265 HP
Torque 309 LB-FT
Fuel economy (combined) 24 mpg
The 2023 Toyota Highlander Turbo Is Torque-Happy and Eco-Friendly Interior
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Let’s talk about the interior changes, which include the multimedia displays upfront. The top-spec Limited and Platinum models benefit from two 12.3-inch displays as standard. One of the displays will be for driver information and will offer four visual modes: Casual, Smart, Tough, and Sporty mode. The other 12.3-inch display is for controlling the Toyota Audio Multimedia system. The system offers wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, dual Bluetooth phone connectivity, HD Radio, and Wi-Fi connection. The 11-speaker premium JBL speakers will be carried over to the top trims. However, the display pair will be optional for the XLE, XSE models, and even the Hybrid Bronze Edition.

The former two models also feature a hands-free power tailgate. The base L and LE upgrade the 4.2-inch MID to a newer and bigger seven-inch panel. The optional wireless charging pad has been moved to a more convenient location, according to Toyota, now placed under the center air vents. Toyota also introduced a new exterior color called the Cypress for the 2023 Highlander. The interior also shuffles the existing Noble Brown to Black accents on the Harvest Beige and Glazed Caramel colors.

Is the updated 2023 Toyota Highlander better than what it was?

The 2023 Toyota Highlander Turbo Is Torque-Happy and Eco-Friendly
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Since its launch, we have heard a lot of concerns among the consumers about the swapping of the 3.5-liter V-6 for the four-pot. Yes, the torque is more, but the horsepower is down by quite some margin. In our review of the 2022 model year of the Highlander, we have mentioned that the V-6 acts sluggishly in city traffic. So, the addition of a torquey engine will make city drives exciting while retaining good fuel economy. The tech upgrade was needed, to be honest. The 12.3-inch displays will invite enthusiasts who do want to cash out a lot of money and go for some German SUVs. With all of these goodies, the 2023 Highlander will cost you more than it ever did, but it is the most advanced Highlander to date.

Amreetam Basu
Amreetam Basu
Automotive Journalist
After working predominantly as a freelancer at CarHP/CarIndigo, Amreetam joined the TopSpeed team as a journalist in September 2021. In a world where SUVs are booming, he favors sedans and adores BMWs and Mercedes, with a special spot for Lexus and Genesis. He is currently pursuing Master of Arts in History and is 23 years old.  Read full bio
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