2017 Toyota Highlander
Few brands have the SUV landscape covered as totally as Toyota. Even when it comes to large family duty, they have a trio to choose from. But it’s the Highlander crossover that picks up the bulk of that business, and its been updated for 2017 to give those families more of what they really want.
Now midway through its 3rd generation, the Toyota Highlander adds a multitude of updates for 2017. But don’t think they’re the hastily assembled kind of revisions in response to some sales slump, rather just the normal progression of keeping current with the segment. As despite a rash of recently re-engineered competition, the Highlander remains a top seller in the family 3-row utility world.
You don’t have to like the big mouth look, in fact most of our staff don’t; but you certainly won’t be able to ignore it, as it seems to be swallowing up as much road as possible while heading in your direction.
The big news for ’17 is new SE trim. It tames that front end somewhat with dark pieces replacing the usual chrome. 19-inch wheels are added as well, to support a sportier image.
Fortunately, it doesn’t stop with looks. SEs also get a retuned suspension for a little more agility. Still, this is perhaps where Highlander shows its age the most, having a heavier feel compared to much of the competition who have moved on to lighter weight materials. But that also gives it a totally solid, safe, and secure feeling compared to many rivals.
From the high seating position, drivers will be enjoying that enhanced nimbleness from new black leather seats with silver stitching. Of course its accompanied by dark dash and door trim.
Controls and layout are all very familiar, with no major changes here; including the very helpful storage in the dash. Good news for those with electronics to keep charged, all Highlanders now come with 5 USB ports!
Both 7 and 8-passenger versions are available, with the 2nd row seats remaining very comfortable and spacious. And while many competitors have stepped their game up in the 3rd row department, access here is still very good, though very low seat bottoms make for an awkward seating position.
Cargo space continues to be good here; 13.8 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 42.3 behind the 2nd, and a max of 83.7 cubic-ft. Boosting practicality further, the Highlander is one of the few SUVs that still has a flip up glass for the rear hatch; though only in upper trim levels.
Even better news, is the arrival of a higher power. An enhanced version of the 3.5-liter V6 that gets a 25-horsepower boost to 295. Torque rises 15 lb-ft. to 263.
All this while actually improving fuel economy, thanks to a new 8-speed automatic transmission.
Government Ratings are now 20-City, 26-Highway, and 22-Combined with all-wheel-drive. Our average was 21.0 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
At the track, thanks to the upgraded V6, Highlander certainly feels less sluggish off the line. There’s a strong low end pull to get you going, while it eagerly delivers power on the high end as well. We hit 60 in 7.7-seconds; with a ¼-mile time of 16.0-seconds flat at 92 miles-per-hour.
Base LE trim still comes with a 185-horsepower 2.7-liter I4, though in front wheel-drive only; and of course the Highlander Hybrid remains available as well.
As for how the upgraded SE suspension handled our cones; well, there is still some mild understeer as you might expect, but the tauter suspension is very noticeable.
In fact, after a few runs, we were really hauling the goods, shaving ever closer to the cones and keeping speeds higher than we would have expected going in. Even body roll is well subdued; it was tire sidewall flexing that seemed to hold us back the most.
Of course it’s all about family safety these days; and for 2017, all Highlanders get Toyota Safety Sense P with automatic emergency braking as standard equipment.
Highlander pricing starts at just $31,625. New SE trim goes for $40,685, with all-wheel-drive adding another $1,460.
Even with the rapid pace of change these days, the Toyota Highlander has had no problem staying near the top the sales charts in the highly competitive 3-row crossover utility segment. Toyota fans will find more of what they love here in this upgraded 2017 version. And that should ensure current Highlander sales remain high, until an all-new one hits the streets.
- Engine: 3.5 liter
- Horsepower: 295
- Torque: 263 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 16.0 seconds @ 92 mph
- EPA: 20 mpg city / 26 mpg highway
2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient
Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain in just about everything they make, so it did seem odd that last year, when they debuted an all-new SUV version of their long-time best-selling Corolla, a hybrid was nowhere to be found. Well, it didn’t take long for Toyota to correct that situation, delivering this Corolla Cross Hybrid for 2023.
With prices for everything seemingly going up daily, we can all use a little more cost efficiency in our lives. That’s a mission that Toyota has been undertaking for some time now and continues to do it with this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Alabama-built Corolla Cross arrived just last year as Toyota’s attempt to bring their best-selling nameplate into the SUV era, and give them an additional entry into the most popular automotive segment going right now, small crossovers.
There are some RAV4 styling cues here, but the Corolla Cross is mostly its own deal, and the Hybrid is more than just a fuel efficient option, it has added performance too. So, it’s offered only in Toyota’s S line of trims S, SE, and XSE, where the standard Corolla Cross is available in base L, LE, and XLE.
There are some differences outside, most notably unique front and rear fasicas; the front with a much more aggressive look, with larger grille and blacked-out trim.
Black trim and logos in back too, along with a redesigned bumper; plus, you can optionally go 2-tone by adding black paint to the roof.
Great packaging has it feeling roomier inside than most small 5-seat utes, straddling the line between subcompact and compact. And seats are way more comfortable than your typical urban-minded utility.
In fact, the entire interior feels quite upscale, and the layout will be very familiar to those stepping up from an actual Corolla.
Those who put off buying a Corolla Cross until now will be rewarded with upgraded infotainment, as all Hybrid’s will come with Toyota’s latest 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system standard.
The Hybrid’s small battery is located under the rear seat, so there’s minimal loss of rom, with a good 21.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space available; expanding to 61.8 with rear seatbacks folded.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel-sipping ways are courtesy of the 5th generation of Toyota’s Hybrid System which outputs a combined 196-horsepower through its trio of electric motors and naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine. One of those motors operating strictly the rear axle for standard all-wheel-drive.
At our test track, there was a nice little chirp of the tires off the line, but that’s where the excitement ended.
So while a 7.5-second trip to 60 may not raise your blood pressure, it’s a full 3-seconds quicker than the standard Corolla Cross we tested last year. We’ll take that!
CVT automatic means engine revs and engine noise both hang relatively high throughout the whole ¼-mile, which took us 15.6-seconds to complete, finishing at a reasonable 90 miles-per-hour.
The Hybrid also gets a “sport-tuned” suspension, and indeed it felt light and nimble through our cone course, very neutral too, with no noticeable understeer or oversteer. Steering was light but still provided good feedback. With some grippier tires, this would certainly give the best handlers in the segment a run for their money.
But the real reward comes in Government Fuel Economy Ratings which are 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined. We averaged a great 43.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular; that’s a 40% increase over the 30.9 miles-per-gallon we averaged in the standard Corolla Cross last year.
But, that does come at a cost, though it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with separate trim families, but pricing starts at $29,320 for the Hybrid, about 3-grand over a base all-wheel-drive non-hybrid. Top XSE comes in at $32,400.
As influential as Toyota is in spreading the hybrid doctrine, it was indeed odd that the Corolla Cross arrived last year without a hybrid option. Smartly, it didn’t take them long to right that wrong, as it was always part of the plan, and the Corolla Cross has benefitted from it greatly. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is not just more efficient, it’s more capable, and a much better small utility all around.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 196
- 0-60 mph: 7.5-seconds
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.3 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: e-CVT
- Torque: 139 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined