Update: ‘Sales’ section updated.
The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is not a significant departure from the previous model, but there are some differences in equipment levels. The 2023 model has more features, gets mild interior styling upgrades, and sports larger screens on every variant.
Here’s everything you should know about the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which is now available at U.S. dealers:
Hybrid Powertrain returns unchanged
The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain remains unchanged. Offered in FWD and AWD, the SUV is powered by a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine that runs on the more efficient Atkinson cycle. The engine is assisted by two electric motor-generators (MG1 and MG2) on all hybrid variants and an additional rear axle-mounted electric motor (only on the AWD).
The front electric motor also powers the Variable Valve Timing. The combined hybrid output is 243 hp—the engine produces 186 hp and 175 lb-ft. The rear electric motor activates when the system senses the loss of traction on the front wheels to provide extra grip. Customers can choose between Normal, Eco, Sport, and EV driving modes.
The EV mode only runs for short distances, depending on the battery’s state of charge. Moreover, the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid also features brake energy recovery to improve the battery’s charge. Additionally, Toyota’s Predictive Efficient Drive (PED) analyzes driving behavior and traffic conditions to optimize battery usage and charging.
The 2023 Highlander Hybrid delivers the same fuel economy as the previous model:
|Trim\Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined)||2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid FWD||2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD|
Upgraded Toyota Audio Multimedia
Toyota has replaced the 4.2-inch TFT digital cluster with a new 7-inch screen on the base LE variant of the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Meanwhile, on the Limited and Platinum variants, Toyota has dropped the 7-inch cluster for a larger 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with four visual modes: Casual, Smart, Tough, and Sporty.
Moreover, a new 12.3-inch central infotainment screen (same as the 2022 Toyota Tundra) is standard on the Limited, Platinum, and Hybrid Bronze variants. Additionally, the lower variants continue with the 8-inch infotainment. However, customers can upgrade to the 12.3-inch unit on the XLE variant by paying extra.
The Toyota Audio Multimedia screens are designed and engineered by Toyota’s Texas-based connected technologies team. It continues to feature over-the-air (OTA) updates, “Hey Toyota” voice commands, Cloud Navigation and Google Points-Of-Interest, and more. There are also new graphics, higher resolution, and a 12-speaker, 1,200-watt JBL sound system.
Toyota Audio Multimedia also continues to feature Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Moreover, the Wi-Fi Connect offers 4G compatibility for five devices. Wi-Fi Connect also allows streaming music from Apple Music or Amazon Music.
The Limited and Platinum variants of the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid come with power-folding exterior mirrors as standard in America. Moreover, the wireless charging deck has been moved from the center console to the instrument panel shelf to make it more accessible for the front passengers.
Additionally, the XLE variant also features a hands-free powered tailgate—customers have to wave their foot under the rear bumper, and the sensor prompts the door to unlock and open. The XLE variant with captain seats for the second row can be equipped with a regular bench seat.
All 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid variants have improved NVH levels and sound dampening. The Limited and Platinum variants feature acoustic glass on the front passenger windows to better insulate the vehicle from outside disturbances that filter into the cabin.
Hybrid Bronze Edition retained for 2023
Toyota has added a new Cypress exterior color option, while Noble Brown interior accents have been replaced with Black on the Harvest Beige and Glazed Caramel interior themes in the United States. Moreover, the Hybrid Bronze Edition introduced in 2021 has returned for the 2023 model year.
The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition continues to be available with Cement (exclusive), Wind Chill Pearl, and Midnight Black exterior color options. It also features 18-inch bronze wheels as standard. The special edition features SofTex-trimmed fabric seats, bronze stitching, illuminated door sills, and a bronze-stitched cargo mat, among other interior styling elements.
Is the Bronze Edition worth the premium?
The Bronze Edition trim commands a USD 2,560 premium over the XLE, so is it worth the extra dough? The bronze exterior accents, including the 18-inch bronze wheels, the illuminated bronze-colored door sills, the bronze-colored stitching on the seat covers, and the special bronze-stitched logo embroidered in the floor and cargo mats alone are certainly not worth the price.
However, you also get more equipment, including rain-sensing wipers, LED-strip DRLs, height-adjustable hands-free power tailgate, 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia touchscreen infotainment system, and two 120V outlets (1500W shared). In our opinion, that’s a good deal if you’re into flashy styling.
Loaded with safety features
The Toyota Highlander is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ awardee, the organization’s highest rating. The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid features Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ that features a raft of safety features. The list includes Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection (PCS w/ PD), Full-speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Lane Trace Assist (LTA), Road Sign Assist (RSA) and Automatic High Beams (AHB).
Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard features on the U.S.spec model. Limited and Platinum variants get front and rear parking assist with automatic braking. Bird’s Eye View with Perimeter Scan is available on the Limited and standard on the Platinum. The Highlander Hybrid also features stability control and traction control.
Moreover, a feature specific to the hybrid models is Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), which makes a host of safety functions work together seamlessly. VDIM makes the ABS, Brake Assist, Traction Control, VSC, hill assist, and the EPS work in conjunction, controlling the hybrid system output to keep the vehicle stable on low-grip surfaces.
Price & Release Date
Prices of the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid start at USD 40,220 (excl. USD 1,335 DPH fee), which marks a USD 620 price hike over the previous model. The new model is already at U.S. dealers. San Rafael, California-based Toyota Marin, Massey Toyota in Kinston, North Carolina, Seeger Toyota in St. Louis, Missouri, Coos Bay, Oregon-based Coos Bay Toyota, and many other outlets have it in stock and have listed it online.
Toyota sold 43,711 units of the Highlander Hybrid in the U.S. in 2022. Compared to 2021 (65,167 units), this marked a 32.9% decline in sales. The easing supply chain bottlenecks and the MY2023 update should revive the popularity of the hybrid SUV.
The Highlander is the best-selling mid-size SUV in the United States, so Toyota hasn’t tampered with the formula. Instead, it made the SUV more appealing with mild upgrades for the 2023 model year. A larger Toyota Grand Highlander Hybrid is debuting in February 2023, and begins reaching dealerships in mid-2023. Customers looking for a more spacious three-row SUV with deeper electrification could consider waiting for the extended model.
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid FAQs
Which are the competitors to the 2023 Toyota Highlander?
Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Ford Explorer, and the Chevrolet Traverse are some of the alternatives.
What is the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid price?
The 2023 Highlander Hybrid’s prices range between USD 40,220 and 50,475 (excl. USD 1,335 DPH fee).
What is the 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid release date?
The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is now available at dealerships.
Featured Image Source: Toyota