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 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined