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New gas engine and more for the 2023 Toyota Highlander


The 2023 Toyota Highlander will come with a new gas engine, larger multimedia screen and more changes for the three-row SUV.

Toyota’s three-row SUV has been a staple in their lineup for years and has seen several tweaks and updates to its exterior and interior styling. 

Last year, Toyota added a hybrid powertrain exclusive to a Bronze Edition version and now the gas engine gets overhauled as well as other things.

New gas engine, more torque, more efficiency

Toyota says the 2023 Highlander gas model will now be equipped with a higher-torque, high-efficiency turbocharged engine replacing the naturally aspirated V6 engine.

This new 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque providing a 17% increase in torque over the prior generation 3.5-liter V6 engine.

It should feel peppier and faster when passing as well as improving fuel economy to 25 MPG combined. 

Plus, the smaller displacement turbocharged engine represents a 50% reduction in NOx and NMOG emissions.

The new Highlander turbo model will tow up to 5,000 and includes Trailer Sway Control as well as the controversial standard Auto Start Stop engine system which turns the engine off when it is idling.

Other updates for 2023 Toyota Highlander

Besides the new engine, Limited and Platinum models of the SUV will now get two 12.3” screens standard with one being the digital dash and another being the infotainment screen.

For the lower trim L, LE and XLE models, they will come with the 7” dash screen with four different visual models as found on 2022 models.

The larger 12.3” infotainment screen will have the new Toyota operating system and will be optional on XLE and XSE grades. They will come with a standard 8” screen. The larger screen is also now standard on the Hybrid Bronze Edition.

Another change is Limited and Platinum models, gas and hybrid powertrains, will now come standard with power folding exterior mirrors. 

Plus, the available wireless charging feature was moved from the center dashboard shelf to below the audio multimedia touchscreen.

Finally, there is a new Cypress green exterior color.

Hybrid and AWD?

The 2023 Toyota Highlander comes in a hybrid as well providing 36 MPG combined and can be had in both FWD and AWD.

With regards to the AWD system, this will come in three different flavors. 

Gas engine equipped Highlanders in L, LE and XLE trims will have an optional AWD system with 50% available torque split to the rear wheels.

For the XSE, Limited and Platinum models there is a more advanced Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD system which uses special couplings to actively manage torque distribution between the left and right rear wheels.

On the hybrid, there is a rear-mounted electric motor which supplies power to the rear wheels seamlessly when necessary. 

Toyota says the SUV will be arriving at dealerships nationwide this month. The 2023 Highlander with the new turbo engine will have a starting MSRP of $38,115 and the 2023 Highlander Hybrid will have a starting MSRP of $41,915 with delivery and processing fees included.

The bottom line

More power, better fuel economy and lower emissions seems like win, win and win for the gas engine Toyota Highlander offering customers some real choices between gas and hybrid. Plus, the bigger screen is easier to see and use than the prior models. All good things for customers shopping for this slightly refreshed Highlander.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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