BLOG: Toyota expands Highlander lineup, adds new V-6 for 2017

A first look at Toyota‘s 2017 Highlander.

Toyota is changing up the popular Highlander crossover for 2017, with the refreshed model set to be shown at the 2016 New York auto show.

Improvements include a new direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission and an additional model.

Dubbed SE, the new trim level will be sportier than the luxe trims but positioned below the top-tier Limited and Limited Platinum Highlander. It will also be available in an exclusive salsa red pearl paint job.

While the standard powertrain remains a 185-hp 2.7-liter I-4 and six-speed automatic, the new available 3.5-liter V-6 will have “significantly more horsepower,” according to Toyota.

We’ve inquired about specific figures, but Toyota says those will be available closer to launch. The outgoing 3.5-liter V-6 had 270 hp, so we hope its replacement will be in the 300-hp range.

Rounding out the modernized powertrain is the direct-shift eight-speed transmission, which should help eke out some more mpg. If the latter is your primary concern, Toyota is also making the Highlander Hybrid available in LE and XLE trims.

Standard safety tech reaches the entire Highlander family and consists of pre-collision braking, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

Toyota will also throw Pedestrian Pre-collision into the mix, which uses both radar and a camera to help drivers avoid hitting people. Limited Platinum Highlanders will receive a Bird’s Eye View overhead camera system to make it easier to back up and parallel park.

Aesthetically, the only major change is the front fascia, which receives a massive Lexus-like grille opening. Aside from that, the exterior remains largely unchanged.

Stay tuned: The New York auto show is just around the corner, and we should get more information about Highlander pricing, power and fuel efficiency at the event.

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