Toyota launches refined 7-seater Highlander hybrid in Europe

Toyota’s largest SUV, the Highlander, is to go on sale throughout Western Europe for the first time in early 2021.

With 23-years’ experience in the development of hybrid technology, more than 16 million hybrid customers, 9 hybrid models and 4th generation self-charging, full hybrid powertrains offering up to 80% zero-emission driving, Toyota has combined its hybrid leadership with its legendary QDR and extensive experience in the SUV market to create the Highlander Hybrid.

Available exclusively with a full hybrid powertrain, the Highlander joins the D-segment RAV4, the C-segment C-HR and the forthcoming B-segment Yaris Cross to complete Toyota’s comprehensive European SUV model line-up.

Reinforcing the company’s leadership in full hybrid technology, this establishes Europe’s largest hybrid SUV line-up, with 91% of RAV4, 98% of C-HR, an anticipated 95% of the forthcoming Yaris Cross and 100% of Highlander sales being hybrid variants in Western Europe.

Thus far, the electrification of E-segment SUVs has tended to focus on Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) technology. Despite the benefits of PHEV technology, customers in this segment tend to travel longer distances with a greater percentage of motorway mileage and may tend to suffer from electric range shortage. With Highlander self-charging Hybrid powertrain and an electric cruising speed of up to 125km/h, Highlander Hybrid efficiently meets the segment’s customer needs.

Benefitting from Toyota’s TNGA-K platform architecture, the Highlander is big on space but efficient on emissions. It combines all the large Toyota SUV attributes of 7-seat space on demand, comfort, driveability and safety with an exceptionally quiet, all-wheel drive 248 DIN hp hybrid powertrain offering excellent fuel efficiency from 6.6 l/100 km and CO2 emissions as low as 149g/km – a segment-best power-to-CO2 balance for a non-plug-in car.

The fourth-generation hybrid powertrain equips the Highlander with smooth, powerful acceleration on demand, the ability to cruise on all-electric power at up to 125 km/h, and a two tonne towing capacity.

 

DESIGN AND PACKAGING

  • Sleek, sophisticated SUV styling with the power and durability of a rugged All-Wheel Drive
  • Largest Toyota SUV with 2850 mm wheelbase, full 7-seat flexibility with second row sliding range of 180 mm
  • 7-inch TFT Multi-information, 12.3-inch Multimedia and 10.1-inch Head-Up Displays
  • Segment-longest loadspace with capacity up to 1,909 litres

Exterior Design

The new Highlander Hybrid is 4966 mm long, 1930 mm wide, 1755 mm high, and has a generous 2850 mm wheelbase.

The Highlander Hybrid combines the sleek, dynamic and sophisticated styling of a premium urban SUV with the strength, power and durability of a rugged, versatile All-Wheel Drive.

The vehicle’s wide 1662 mm front and 1690 mm rear track are emphasised both by flared wheel arches and the trapezoidal design of the upper and lower front grilles, which combine to reinforce the Highlander Hybrid’s broad, powerful stance.

In profile, the combination of a sturdy, forward-leaning, three-dimensional lower body and a rear-sloping, tapering cabin with blacked-out A, B and C pillars creates a strong sense of dynamism, to which striking, 20″ super chrome metallic alloy wheels add a premium quality appearance.

To the rear, the vehicle’s powerful stance is emphasised by the wide flaring of the rear wheel arches, whilst contrasting sharp, thin rear lamp clusters and a large skid plate add further boldness and sophistication.

The new Highlander Hybrid is available in a choice of 8 body colours, of which the new Moondust colour, with its two-layer coating process, displays a solid image with the lustre of a clean metal.

Interior Design

On board, the interior has been designed to offer all the practicality, durability and space-on-demand expected of a 7-seater family SUV, creating a comfortable, luxurious environment for all occupants.

The instrument panel is structured with a solid central element that encompasses the 12.3-inch centre console multimedia display screen and then flows the full width of the dashboard, framed by smooth, soft-skin padding. This is visually supported from below by a wide, square centre console.

All switchgear is shaped to flow seamlessly from the panels, combining elegance with ease of operation. Throughout the interior, satin and wood grain trim finishes create a durable, prestigious atmosphere, whilst the soft-skin padding itself is dressed in highly tactile, finely textured leather detailed with fine quality stitching.

Premium equipment levels include a 7-inch TFT display within the driver’s instrument binnacle, a 12.3-inch centre console multimedia display with satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ connectivity, 3-zone air-conditioning, front and rear seat heating and front seat ventilation, a Head-Up Display, a 1,200 Watt, 11-speaker JBL sound system by Harman, wireless phone charging and a switchable digital rear view mirror which displays a wide rear image without the interruption of seat headrest or other occupants.

The Highlander Hybrid’s luxurious interior is available in a choice of Black or Graphite colour schemes. High grade versions combine perforated leather upholstery with Dark Silver ornamentation and Dark Wood trim, whilst Premium grade variants feature perforated leather upholstery and Silver Texture ornamentation combined with Dark Wood trim.

Packaging

With a generous 2850 mm wheelbase, the Highlander Hybrid is a true 7-seater – the 180 mm sliding range of the second row seating ensuring spacious, easily-accessible third row accommodation for two adults.

Accessed by a kick sensor-operated power tailgate, the 332 litre loadspace in 7-seater configuration includes 27 litres of underfloor storage. By the fully flat folding of both the third and second row seating, luggage capacity may be dramatically expanded to a maximum of 1909 litres.

The interior boasts comprehensive storage compartments through the cabin, complimented by power, USB and external HDMI sockets in the first and second row seating areas.

 

MODEL RANGE AND EQUIPMENT

  • All models feature Smart Entry, LED headlamps, 3-zone air conditioning, seat heating and wireless phone charging
  • Premium grade includes 10.1-inch Head-Up Display, 12.3-inch centre console multimedia display and 1,200 Watt, 11-speaker JBL sound system

Highlander’s equipment specification is notably high with a wide range of comfort and convenience-enhancing features.

Specification starts with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, windscreen wiper de-icing, privacy glass, rear window sunshades, Smart Entry, a 7-inch TFT driver’s instrument display, an 8-inch Display Audio screen incorporating the latest generation of Toyota’s multimedia technology, wireless phone charging, 3-zone air-conditioning, heated front seats and a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM).

Higher equipment adds 20-inch alloy wheels, front metal scuff plates, roof rail plating, projector LED headlamps with jet washers, puddle lamp exterior illumination, a power operated tailgate, blue ambient lighting, leather upholstery with heated and power operated front seats, a driver’s seat memory function, paddle shifters, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and a Back Guide Monitor (BGM).

Options include the Winter Pack, front seat air-conditioning, a panoramic sunroof, and a 12.3-inch centre console multimedia display with satellite navigation and a 1,200 Watt, 11-speaker JBL sound system by Harman.

The top-of-the-range Premium grade offers the ultimate in SUV refinement through the further addition of perforated leather upholstery with front and rear seat heating and front seat ventilation, a heated steering wheel, full surface windscreen de-icing, a kick sensor-operated power tailgate, a 10.1-inch Head-Up Display, a switchable digital rear view mirror, a 12.3-inch centre console multimedia display with satellite navigation and a 1,200 Watt, 11-speaker JBL sound system by Harman and a 360 degree camera. Optional equipment includes a panoramic sunroof.

 

DRIVING DYNAMICS

  • 4th generation full hybrid powertrain with AWD-i and two tonne towing capacity
  • 248 DIN hp and CO2 emissions of 149g/km offer segment-best power to CO2 balance
  • AWD-i with additional 121 Nm from rear electric motor and up to 1,300 Nm at the rear wheels, boosting performance with no NVH, CO2 or fuel economy penalties
  • TNGA-K platform architecture for nimble handling and comfortable motorway cruising characteristics

Powertrain

The Highlander’s fourth-generation full hybrid powertrain combines a 2.5 litre Atkinson cycle Hybrid Dynamic Force petrol engine with front and rear electric motors -the rear motor equipping Toyota’s SUV with AWD-i (All-Wheel Drive-intelligent)- and a powerful Nickel-Metal Hydride system battery located under the second row of seats.

The fourth-generation hybrid powertrain equips the Highlander with smooth, powerful acceleration on demand, the ability to cruise on all-electric power at up to 125 km/h, and a two tonne towing capacity.

Total system power of 248 DIN hp equips the Highlander Hybrid with a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 8.3 seconds, and a maximum speed of 180 Km/h. WLTP cycle average fuel consumption starts at 6.6 l/100 km, while CO2 emissions as low as 149g/km represent the best power-to-CO2 balance for non-plug-in in the segment.

A Drive Mode Select switch enables the driver to select a choice of ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and TRAIL driving modes. All four modes may be used when the vehicle is operating in the separately-switchable EV mode.

Boasting world-class thermal efficiency of 41%, the four-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC 2,487cc D-4S engine features both direct cylinder fuel injection and port injection. The injection method is changed according to driving conditions in order to optimise output and fuel efficiency.

A Dual VVT-i system with VVT-iE (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Electric) on the intake side, in which valve timing is controlled by an electric motor rather than oil pressure, enhances output and fuel efficiency whilst lowering emissions.

A long bore-and stroke ratio and an innovative variable cooling system combine to further improve overall engine efficiency and fuel economy.

The fourth-generation hybrid system features a smaller, lighter transaxle than its predecessor, in which a dual axis structure adopted for the motor and generator achieves a low loss gear train with a smaller overall width. This parallel axis structure both increases the motor’s rotation speed and reduces its size.

The gear ratio has been optimised to promote maximum fuel efficiency and dynamic performance. Allied to gear tooth surface polishing, the new gear structure further suppresses resonance and operation noise, making the hybrid drive system quieter in operation than ever before.

NVH

Reinforcing the inherently smooth, quiet driving characteristics of the Highlander’s fourth-generation full hybrid powertrain, the use of an acoustic windscreen and front glazing, and the adoption of roof, dash and floor silencers, and wheel arch and loadspace liners equip the it with a notably quiet cabin environment.

Ride and Handling

The Highlander’s TNGA-K platform architecture equips it with a lightweight, high-rigidity bodyshell. This combines with a low centre of gravity, sophisticated Macpherson strut front and trailing wishbone rear suspension systems and high-rigidity, rack-mounted steering to give the new SUV engagingly nimble handling allied to comfortable motorway cruising characteristics.

Ride characteristics are made even more comfortable through the Highlander’s Ride Control with Torque Demand – Pitch Body and Acceleration Pitch control systems. Drive torque to the front wheels is controlled to both reduce the vehicle pitch motion caused by road surface fluctuations and reduce the bonnet lifting behaviour that occurs under hard acceleration.

AWD-i

The Highlander Hybrid’s AWD-i (All-Wheel Drive-intelligent) adopts a newly developed rear transaxle to improve maximum torque at the rear wheels. The rear motor system output provides 121 Nm of available torque and is capable of transmitting up to 1,300 Nm at the rear wheels, boosting vehicle performance from a standstill, under acceleration and in slippery road conditions, with no compromise on NVH, CO2 or fuel economy.

Torque distribution is minutely controlled to the front and rear wheels anywhere between 100:0 and 20:80 depending on driving conditions. The amount of torque distributed between the front and rear wheels is displayed on the 7-inch TFT Multi-information display during AWD system operation.

Aerodynamics

Numerous aerodynamic measures have been adopted to achieve superior vehicle stability, controllability and ride comfort, while contributing to enhanced fuel efficiency.

Both the bodyshell and underbody of the Highlander Hybrid have been designed to achieve optimum aerodynamics. The front bumper bottom edge, front bumper sides and rear pillar, fender and roof spoiler have all been shaped to smooth the flow of air passing over and leaving the vehicle.

A radiator air guide ensures that airflow is efficiently directed to the radiator with minimum resistance. When the radiator does not require additional air flow cooling, grille shutters close to both reduce airflow resistance and assist with engine warm-up.

A first for a Toyota vehicle, new aero-ventilating aluminium wheels combine both brake cooling and aerodynamic performance. The underbody features an extensive, flat undercover which, in combination with front and rear wheel spats, smoothes the passage of air beneath the vehicle.

Airflow exhaust mechanisms have also been fitted on the insides of the front and rear wheel arches. Reducing air pressure inside the wheel arches increases the contact load of the tyres, enhancing both grip and vehicle stability.

 

SAFETY

  • Comprehensive Toyota Safety Sense active safety technologies fitted as standard across the model range
  • Pre-Collision System (PCS) with day and night pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection
  • Daytime Oncoming Vehicle Detection, Emergency Steering Assist and Intersection Turn assistance
  • Full Range Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Curve Speed Reduction and Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beam (AHB)

The new Highlander Hybrid is equipped with the latest range of ‘Toyota Safety Sense’ active safety technologies, designed to help prevent or mitigate collisions across a wide range of traffic situations.

The Highlander’s Toyota Safety Sense package includes a Pre-Collision System (PCS) with day and night pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection, Full Range Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).

Several new features have been added to the Pre-Collision System (PCS). They include daytime front-to-front oncoming vehicle detection; Emergency Steering Assist (ESA) linked to daytime pedestrian and cyclist detection; and Intersection Turn Assistance.

Additional driver support and safety enhancing systems include Full Range Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Curve Speed Reduction, and an improved Lane Trace Assist (LTA) system.

Updated Pre-Collision System (PCS)

When the PCS automatically activates Pre-Collision Braking during the possibility of a collision with a pedestrian, cyclist or another vehicle, Emergency Steering Assist (ESA) is simultaneous activated.

The ESA function offers steering support in the form of additional torque when the driver makes a sudden swerve to avoid the obstacle, helping enhance vehicle stability. After collision avoidance, ESA will offer deviation restraint to prevent the vehicle leaving its own lane.

Intersection Turn Assistance provides a warning and automatic braking if the driver turns left or right in front of an oncoming vehicle in the opposite lane, or a pedestrian crossing the road from the opposite direction after the turning.

Full Range Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Curve Speed Reduction

The Highlander Hybrid’s ACC system features steering wheel-mounted switchgear for maximum ease of operation whilst driving, Turn signal-linked Control, a Road Sign Assist (RSA) link and a Curve Speed Reduction function.

If the turn signal on the overtaking lane side is operated while ACC is activated Turn signal-linked Control, preliminary acceleration is applied within the current lane to shorten the distance to the preceding vehicle in preparation for changing lanes. After changing lanes, the preliminary acceleration continues, slowly accelerating to the preset vehicle speed when the vehicle returns to constant speed driving.

The RSA link enables the ACC vehicle speed setting to be easily reset in accordance with a changing speed limit. And Curve Speed Reduction will slow the vehicle when it determines that the vehicle speed needs to be suppressed during a curve.

Lane Trace Assist (LTA)

With greater capabilities than the current Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Lane Trace Assist (LTA) provides uninterrupted support for smooth driving even on motorways with frequent curves and in heavy traffic congestion.

When the system judges that there is a possibility of the vehicle’s deviating from its current lane, in addition to activating the LDA function it will also apply force to the steering in order to assist the driver in avoiding lane departure.

Whilst ACC is activated, a Lane Centering function assists the driver with some of the steering necessary maintaining a central position in the current lane.

Additional improvements to the LTA system include a faster reactivation time after a lane change; an increased counter steer angle to contrast air turbulence when overtaking big trucks and give more straight line stability; earlier notice of a curve radius ahead to acute for the system to cope with; and increased steering wheel force in order to keep LTA active at higher vehicle speeds.

Rear Seats Occupant Alert

A relevant safety function is the Rear Seats Occupant Alert, where sensors placed in all the rear seats (second and third rows) notify in case one the seats is still occupied.