Given the sheer number of successful models in its lineup, one might assume that Toyota has long since mastered the art of producing desirable sport-utility vehicles. However, there has been a huge void in Toyota’s SUV lineup for some time now, and the jump from the body-on-frame Sequoia to the crossover Highlander is a particularly large one.

The Highlander has sold more than 3.3 million units to date, making it one of the best-selling vehicles of all time. Despite this, the Highlander’s middle row isn’t exactly the best in the world, and its third row can’t compete with the likes of the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade, Jeep Grand Cherokee L, and Kia Telluride. In the meantime, the product gap widened into a gulf when Toyota introduced the new Sequoia, which moved in a direction that was more truck-oriented to fill the void that was left by the departure of the Land Cruiser. The transition from an independent to a solid-axle rear suspension made it possible to better handle towing and off-road terrain, but it came at the expense of ride smoothness and room in the third row for passengers and goods.

Toyota Grand

The Grand Highlander is waiting for you.

The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander is an entirely new model that is not simply a Highlander with a lengthened wheelbase. It is a newly redesigned vehicle. The Grand Highlander unquestionably possesses a longer wheelbase, but it also possesses significantly increased dimensions in every other respect. It has smooth flanks that do not conjure the Supra-wannabe swoopiness of the Highlander’s flanks, which is another way in which it differs visually from the Highlander. In the market that Toyota refers to as the “long-haul three-row SUV” sector, the GH was developed expressly to compete with the aforementioned competition. Because Toyota freely admits that it is “drafting off the success” of the Highlander by merely slapping “Grand” onto the nameplate, the company’s decision to utilise a moniker that is derived from the Highlander is a determined tactic.

And why on earth not? The Grand Highlander fulfils the same fundamental role as its namesake, but it does so more effectively, which is especially beneficial to consider for situations in which the third row will be utilised frequently or for extended journeys. Wheelbase length is measured in inches, and the Grand’s comes in at 116.1, which is 3.9 inches longer than that of the Highlander. It is also 2.3 inches wider and stands 2.0 inches taller than the widest Highlander XSE. Overall, it is 4.0 inches longer than the longest Highlander XSE. However, its overall length is 6.7 inches shorter than that of a Sequoia, its roof squats 4.4 inches lower, and its body is 1.3 inches slimmer than the Sequoia’s. This makes it substantially easier to fit into a garage or parking space than a Sequoia.

Designed to Last the Distance

We make full use of the additional inside space provided by the Grand Highlander, and it was fortunate for us that our chief engineer, Craig Payne, got his start in the automotive industry working on the Sienna before being given the task of developing the Grand Highlander. Our 6-foot-2-inch tester, including yours me, was able to sit there comfortably, with the second row configured to account for his own altered driving position. The now-spacious third row is easy to enter, and it has been redesigned to be more open. One might say that the Grand Highlander is capable of transporting a conga line of Dans. In addition, there is 21 cubic feet of luggage space located behind the third row, which, according to Toyota, is sufficient for the storage of seven carry-on suitcases.

The Highlander, on the other hand, has only 16 cubic feet of space behind its third row, which is completely unsuitable for adults due to having 1.1 inches less headroom and 5.5 inches less legroom than the other rows. The Sequoia offers either the same amount of legroom as the Grand Highlander in the third row or 22 cubic feet of cargo space in the back, but not both at the same time. The Sequoia’s performance is unexpectedly bad. If you want the former, you have to move the seat all the way forward until it is uncomfortable to sit in, and if you want the latter, you have to slide the seat all the way back, at which time you have just 12 cubic feet of cargo space, which is 1.6 inches less than the Grand.

Every outboard seat in the Grand Highlander has a USB-C plug, and the various cupholders have adjacent spaces that may cradle smartphones and tablets. This is a feature that we find to be incredibly convenient. The mini-console that is located in the second row slides out of the way easily in order to make room for an aisle, and the top of the front console can be rolled back in such a way that it does not disturb the person sitting next to you while you are searching for something. Do you need to carry stuff while also folding the seats? The Grand Highlander has a cargo capacity of 58 cubic feet behind the middle row and 98 cubic feet behind the front, which is superior than the Sequoia’s respective efforts of 49 and 87 cubic feet and is around 10 cubic feet more than the competition in both measurements.

At the front of the vehicle, the driver’s seat is exceptionally nicely designed, and the dashboard has a layered and unique appearance; this is especially true when the Portobello brown leather and bronze trim of our Hybrid Max Platinum sample vehicle are incorporated into the design. There is just a minimal use of piano black, and the majority of the controls are situated on matte-black surfaces, which look and feel quite nice. Every trim level comes equipped with a touchscreen measuring 12.3 inches, and connecting our iPhone to the wireless Apple CarPlay system was a breeze. This is, without a doubt, a pleasant and accommodating setting in which to while away the hours of travel.

There are Many Different Ways to Get Motivated

You have your option of three different powertrains once you open the hood. The front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations are both available for the base model’s turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four cylinder engine, which produces 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. However, the Grand Highlander’s eight-speed automatic gearbox gives an additional 48 to 50 pound-feet of torque in comparison to the competition’s V-6 engine, which produces between 20 and 28 more horsepower. The front-drive configuration achieves an estimated combined fuel economy of 24 mpg, while the all-wheel drive configuration achieves 22–23 mpg. That is around one to two mpg better than the competition that was indicated earlier.

Next up is Toyota’s well-known hybrid, which features a pair of electric motors that collaborate to reclaim energy lost while braking, harvest extra power from the engine, and control the driving ratio of a seamless computerised CVT gearbox. The 2.5-liter engine that powers the system generates 187 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque on its own; however, the addition of the electric motors brings the total output up to 245 horsepower. Versions with all-wheel drive have a third motor installed in the space between the rear wheels. Depending on the trim, the combined fuel efficiency is estimated to be anywhere from 33 to 34 miles per gallon.

Even though it is dubbed Hybrid Max, the most powerful version of the hybrid powertrain has nothing in common with the hybrid that was just detailed. It combines the standard 265 horsepower turbo four with a single electric motor that is sandwiched between its engine and gearbox. As a result of the extra torque provided by the electric motor, the gearbox only has six speeds rather than eight because it is better able to span the greater gaps. There is a second motor located in the back because all-wheel drive is a standard feature. This powertrain as a whole generates 362 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, which surpasses the output of the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee L in both categories. The combined fuel efficiency is projected at 27 mpg, which is 10 mpg greater than the Jeep’s combined fuel economy.

Drives Like a Bigger Highlander

While in motion, the standard powertrain is able to move the larger and heavier Grand Highlander with ease into merge lanes and over steep gradients. The gearbox changes easily, and even though the standard Grand model is not particularly speedy, it is not a sluggish vehicle either. We estimate that it will take roughly 7.5 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. While under stress, the engine tone has a tendency to be muffled, but it becomes clearer while cruising. In addition to this, it takes turns in an agreeable manner, despite the fact that we find the steering to be a little on the light side.

We did not test drive the standard hybrid, but our impression is that the Hybrid Max has a lot more pep in its step. This is to be expected, given that it has almost 100 more horsepower. Although Toyota estimates that it will take 6.3 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour, we believe it will be faster. In the meantime, the fact that its gearbox has two fewer cogs is seldom noticeable, and the sensation of the integrated brakes is incredibly consistent and reassuring. The steering is equally as light as it is in the normal GH, although the on-center buildup is a little muted here. This could be because the standard 20-inch wheels on this vehicle have a stronger reaction.

Both models provide a ride that is generally smooth and devoid of any sense of float; but, the 18-inch wheels that come standard on the base model come across as more pliable over cracked surfaces, as is typically the case with wheels of a smaller diameter. However, we are not yet in a position to make a conclusive statement due to the fact that the roads on Hawaii’s Big Island are not as diverse as those back in our home state, and the low speed limit of 55 mph is enforced by unmarked police cars.

Coming Soon, and Offered at Prices That Can’t Be Beat

The XLE, Limited, and Platinum grades of the Grand Highlander will each have access to all three of the vehicle’s potential powertrain configurations when it goes on sale this summer. On the first two, all-wheel drive can be added for an additional cost of $1600. All three trim levels are offered with the standard engine, with the XLE beginning at a price of $44,405, which is only a $1050 increase over the price of a comparably equipped 2023 Highlander. That is a very good deal. The price of an XLE Hybrid is $46,005, which is just $1050 more than what you would pay for a comparable Highlander. The all-wheel-drive Limited Hybrid Max has a starting price of $55,375 while the all-wheel-drive Platinum Hybrid Max is the most expensive model at $59,460. Neither of these models have a counterpart in the Highlander lineup.


Toyota has neatly filled a gap in its portfolio that had recently become larger as a result of the new realignment of the Sequoia with the introduction of the brand new Grand Highlander. In the market for so-called long-haul three-row SUVs, this finally provides Brand T with the tools it needs to compete with vehicles such as the Honda Pilot, the Hyundai Palisade, and the Kia Telluride. Is there a possibility that it could come out on top in the competition? This isn’t entirely evident just yet, but it’s likely going to win over new followers who passed on the Highlander because they felt it wasn’t quite up to par.