The Toyota Grand Highlander: The Best Family Companion?
(by automotive journalist Ricardo Rodriguez Long)
The world of automobiles is constantly evolving. New segments are created, with manufacturers offering technology and innovation to cater to the diverse needs of consumers. Today's families are much more active and traveling longer distances for school and weekend trips. Toyota, through its CALTY design studio in California, has studied the American family for a long time, and the new Toyota Grand Highlander is a vehicle that offers an exceptional blend of features that make it an ideal choice for a family of six and bring a furry, four-legged companion with you.
The foundation of any family vehicle is space, and the Toyota Grand Highlander delivers in abundance. I admit I was surprised at its interior expanse. The cabin boasts roomy seating for up to seven passengers, ensuring each family member can stretch out and enjoy the journey regardless of the distance.
The third row is where the Grand Highlander truly shines. Thanks to its elongated body, it offers an incredibly spacious third row with genuine space for passenger legs. At tall, people won't have to bend down their necks either. Once you fold this third row, you end up with a large, flat trunk. So whether it's a short trip to football practice, the dog park, or an extended school trip, you won't have to empty the car to find space.
I understand the significance of a vehicle's performance. Everybody likes to feel a bit of power when pressing the gas pedal. This Grand Highlander is good in this department. It offers three powertrains. The base model has a 2.4L Turbo motor that generates 264HP. It is available as a Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD). The latter is for areas where the weather may be a bit harsher, and having traction on all wheels makes the vehicle a lot safer. But my favorite are the Hybrid versions. There are two of these. A 2.5L four-cylinder with two electric motors that produce a combined 245 HP, or the Hybrid Max, uses the 2.4L turbo motor plus an electric motor located within the bell housing of the transmission. I recommend the Hybrid Max because that setup provides a lot more power (362HP) and can tow 5000 pounds. Of course, you will use more gasoline, but you almost double the performance. The standard hybrid, though, can get close to 28-30 miles per gallon. So, if you are more concerned about saving fuel, the base hybrid Toyota is very efficient. From city commutes to highway cruising, the Grand Highlander is quite versatile.
I like the ride as well, and it is maneuverable despite the size. I did not like the brake pedal feel, as I like a firmer reaction on my foot, but this Toyota comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. This system incorporates adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring. In my opinion, it is the best in the world. The automatic assistance to avoid accidents is top-notch.
Toyota has a longstanding reputation for building reliable vehicles. I checked the assembly points, engine mounts, door hinges, etc, and I can tell this car will run 200,000 miles without significant issues. What I mean is that the Grand Highlander has been a steadfast companion for your family for a long time.
Today's family car is a versatile multi-purpose vehicle that adapts to your children, grandparents, uncles, and even your pets needs. The ample cargo space is the key to this mid-size SUV.
Toyota cars are often associated with practicality. However, the Toyota Grand Highlander now introduces premium seats and a nice dashboard with a 12.3-inch flat screen and an 11-speaker JBL audio system (on the premium model). A substantial panoramic moonroof uplifts the interior ambiance as well. Of course, I always find something questionable in my reviews. The additional USB connectors on the passenger side could have been better integrated into the design. But that is a small thing in the overall view of this car that does not make any negative points against it.
The Grand Highlander XLE starts at $44,500. Add $2,000 if you want the hybrid powertrain. The Limited Hybrid Max I drove costs $55,000, and the fully loaded Platinum can get to $60,000. At first, I thought it was a bit much for the premium model, but if you plan on being the family car, you probably will keep this Toyota a lot longer, and then the numbers may make sense for you. Do I recommend this car? If you are looking for reliability and space, yes, I do. It is a vehicle that can accommodate and take your family around for a long time.