If you’re looking for a Toyota midsize utility, recent headlines may have you skewing towards the new Grand Highlander; but, this Quick Spin is about the regular Highlander and why it’s still pretty “grand” on its own.

The main difference we’re all thinking is size. But in fact, it’s not that much smaller. The Highlander comes in at just 6-inches shorter overall than the Grand Highlander. The Grand Highlander’s five extra inches of third-row legroom is nice, but only a plus for big families.

The cabins are similar, though there are more differences at entry level trim. The Grand Highlander’s standard 12.3-inch touchscreen is optional here, as is this beautiful red interior. The Grand Highlander gets SofTex synthetic leather standard, whereas cloth seating is standard in the Highlander “LE,” replacing the “L” as the entry-level for 2024. On the other hand, the Highlander does gain some Nightshade trims with more blacked out accents.

Powertrain offerings are nearly identical, starting with a 265-horsepower 2.4-liter turbo-4; front-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available. Both models also have a Hybrid option, but only the Grand Highlander has Toyota’s Hybrid Max setup.

To us, it’s a small list of differences, meaning the drive is just about the same.

ALEXANDER KELLUM: “Out here actually driving the Highlander, you know, maybe it does feel a little bit smaller than the Grand Highlander, but not that much smaller. And you’re certainly not going to be able to tell out here on the highway—maybe just in parking lots and side streets.
But what you will be able to tell is just how smooth this thing is, from the suspension, all the way to the shifts in the eight-speed auto.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is… look, the Grand Highlander is an excellent addition to their lineup, but don’t feel like you’re missing out if the Highlander is really all you need.”

Not only that, but dropping the “grand” will also save a few grand, too. The 2024 Toyota Highlander LE starts just over $40,000, about $4,000 less than a starting Grand Highlander, making this a great option for those who just want something that’s a little less.

And we’ll have more Quick Spins soon!