2021 Toyota Highlander XSE, Hybrid, Interior, Platinum

The update of the 2021 Toyota Highlander is the biggest thing for the Japanese company. The three-row segment is becoming more popular, and this is the best-selling vehicle there. Highlander was the only hybrid version in the mid-size class, but the growth of the competition is making Toyota developing its SUV. The plug-in variant is a logical upgrade.

Mechanical upgrades will follow the big redesign of the model. The current edition is all-new. Its styling is promising and there won’t be cosmetic changes on the 2021 Toyota Highlander. The same trim level will be in the offer and only the PHEV version could shake things up. Still, we don’t know precisely if this one is going to debut next year or the production starts in 2021. The new generation of the SUV is planned for 2024 or 2025.

2021 Toyota Highlander Specs

A big change happened under the hood of the newest Highlander. Engineers replaced an old hybrid system with a more efficient combination of electric motors and a smaller petrol engine. Also, a 2.7-liter powerplant is dropped. But, one thing is not so easy to replace.

A reliable 3.5-liter displacement is still the main choice for most buyers. With 295 horsepower, it is one of the most capable units in the class. Torque is at 263 lb-ft and this output is enough to make the SUV tow up to 5,000 pounds. Front-wheel drive is standard and in default setups, it returns 21/29 mpg. Depending on the level of equipment, which can add an all-wheel drive, the mileage can drop to 20/27 mpg.

New Hybrid

A V6 engine used to be the source of power for the hybrid setup. However, the Japanese company sacrificed a lot of energy to gain more miles. Instead of a large block, now we see a 2.5-liter engine as the drivetrain that gets support by an electric motor. Combined, the new 2021 Toyota Highlander hybrid can produce 245 horsepower. This is more than 60 ponies less than its predecessor.

A V6 in a hybrid configuration was pretty efficient, returning 30 mpg. With such mileage, many asked why did Toyota change the setup. Now, the SUV can make up to 35 mpg combined. The mid-size model is more efficient than most compact crossovers. For example, Nissan Rogue Hybrid also sits at 35 mpg, while Toyota is also dominating this segment with Rav4.

2021 Toyota Highlander PHEV

Rav4 is the most fuel-friendly crossover with its hybrid returning 42 mpg. The dominance will be broken with the new Honda CR-V returning the similar outputs. But, Toyota won’t let it go so easily and the Rav4 is getting the plug-in system.

We expect the same from the 2021 Toyota Highlander. For a long time, this was the only hybrid with three rows of seats. Now, there are a few other models, and the Japanese company has to do something about it. Well, a new hybrid setup is leaving the competition in the dust if we are checking the mileage. But, the lack of power could make buyers less interested in this model. The 2021 Toyota Highlander PHEV, with higher outputs and similar mpg rating, would definitely cement the #1 spot in the mid-size segment.

2021 Toyota Highlander Options and Accessories

The redesign and hybrid update left in the background a significant addition for the Entune infotainment system. Toyota finally gave up and accepted the reality – they can’t do everything the best. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are leading services for smartphone integration. These two are now part of the lineup right from the base L model. An eight-inch screen sits at the center of a dashboard and the Highlander boosts the comfort with tri-zone climate control and an eight-way power driver’s seat.

The base L package is not available for a hybrid setup, but all other bundles are equal. The LE adds power tailgate and LED fog lights. The safety gets more features and the most notable one is the blind-spot monitor. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather. The XLE model uses a unique SofTex upholstery. The driver’s bucket gets a 10-way adjusting and heating. This version provides more room for passengers in the middle row with captain’s chairs. Well, the seating capacity, in this case, drops to six.

Limited and Platinum models are adding the best accessories Toyota has to offer. Leather upholstery and seats are standard. The audio system gets a huge boost from JBL’s sound. Navigation and hands-free tailgate are also notable additions. Outside, the Limited edition is using 20-inch wheels. So, what’s left for the Platinum package? A 12-inch display, HUD, and a panoramic moonroof are just a few things that will boost the impression.


The base 2021 Toyota Highlander starts at the same level as its predecessor. With the MSRP of $34,600, this SUV is among the most expensive in the segment. Heavily loaded, the Platinum version reaches $50,000. The hybrid engine will add less than $2,000 on each trim where it appears.

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