The Toyota Highlander made its Canadian debut in 2001. It was among the first to offer three-row seating in a mid-size crossover. The fourth-generation Highlander came along last year when it was the best-selling three-row crossover in the country.
There are few changes for the 2022 model year.
The base front drive LE model has been discontinued due to lack of interest and there is a new Bronze Edition based on the XLY Hybrid model.
There are no fewer than 10 trim levels/models – something for everyone from $46,750 to $57,490.
There are regular and hybrid versions. All come with all-wheel-drive. The mainstream models are powered by Toyota ubiquitous 3.5-litre V6 engine and the hybrid models with Toyota’s Hybrid Drive, the most proven and popular electrified powertrain in the world.
The subject of this test was the new-for-2022 Bronze Edition of the XLE Hybrid model.
Highly unusual for a Toyota, it drew a great deal of comments for its styling – or rather lack of style. The combination of bronze-coloured alloy wheels with cement grey paint was universally negative. Rarely have I come across so many unsolicited comments.
The Bronze Edition also meant a touch of bronze on the door sills and a raft of useful additional equipment like a power liftgate, digital display rear view mirror, and driver seat memory with 10-way power adjustments.
Once you are inside the Highlander though, you aren’t aware of the strange colour combo, and quickly come to appreciate why this is such a popular three-row vehicle.
Aside from the expected Toyota-level quality and long life, this fourth-generation Highlander offers exceptional fit and finish, a comfortable ride, a smooth and highly efficient drivetrain and terrific second row accommodations.
The third row is not so spacious, best left to small people for short distances.
The cargo area aft of the third row is a reasonable 453 litres. With seats folded down – almost flat- and out of the way there is three times as much space available.
Safety has become a Toyota trademark and the latest Highlander is no exception.
A full slate of features includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning with steering assist, and left turn intersection support. The system can be frustrating for those of us who enjoy corners, intervening and cutting speed if you are having too much fun.
Safety and infotainment are key features in a family-oriented vehicle such as this. The safety bases are well covered.
The infotainment system is a bit dated but at least has buttons for some functions, including the HVAC system. This makes it easier and safer to use than many ‘high tech’ systems that require too much time with your eyes and attention off the job at hand.
The ride is comfortable and compliant over nasty surfaces. Noise levels – both road and wind are well hidden, and the hybrid power train allows much less frequent visits to the ever-more-expensive gas pumps.
Toyota Highlander – a proven hit with families
Over two decades, the Toyota Highlander has been a proven hit with families, replacing the minivan in most cases as the preferred method of travel.
Versatile, with proven reliability , longevity and resale value, it has set a standard others have mimicked. Hopefully they will not follow the bronze/grey idea.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE AWD
As tested: $55,100 including freight
Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, automatic high beams, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, left turn intersection support, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicycle detection and semi-automatic steering
1500-watt/110-volt accessory outlet, six-speaker audio system with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 20-cm touch screen, wireless capability
Power locks, windows and mirrors, heated steering wheel and mirrors with memory, rear door sunshades, integrated garage door opener, power sunroof, power seats, three-zone automatic climate control, tilt & telescope steering wheel, remote keyless entry, push button start
Special Edition trim, $3,430
2.5-litre four-cylinder, hybrid synergy drive, 243-horsepower, x lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. Continuously variable automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 6.7/6.8
Length, 4,951 mm; width, 1,931 mm; wheelbase, 2,850 mm; weight, 4,497 kg
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