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For the latest Toyota Highlander pricing and information: https://www.kbb.com/toyota/highlander/ Yup, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen these things everywhere, but this 4th gen Toyota Highlander receives a few changes for the 2023 model year. So strap in, sit back and relax with your favorite cup of Joe while I drop off this relaxed review… that isn’t about a midcycle refresh so relax on the graphics mr. editor. For those who have growing families and are looking to avoid that minivan life, the Highlander is a viable option. With bold, muscular styling, seating for up to 8 passengers, and a hybrid option, you can haul the crew in style. There’s no huge changes to the exterior for this model year… …BUT Toyota added a new color. Cypress Green. That’s this! Hmmm… I kinda like it, and if you don’t, relax. You can voice that in the comment section. Opening the large doors of the Highlander reveals it’s modest but functional interior. Ingress and egress are simple, and soft materials line the cabin with plenty of spots to store small items. Comfortable and supportive front seats make it easy to find a relaxed position and the second row provides good legroom and headroom, even for tall guys like me, with standard USB ports. You’ll notice our tester has the bench seating arrangement, but captains’ chairs are available on higher trims. I want to point out that the 3rd row doesn’t have any USB ports on any trim of the Highlander, so plan accordingly. Behind the third row there’s (16 cu-ft.) of cargo room which is a little smaller than the Honda Pilot and a lot smaller than the Chevy Traverse, but if no one is riding way out back, fold the third row for (48.4 cu-ft.) and 2nd and 3rd row folded yields (84.3 cu-ft.). A couple things back here that may ruin a relaxed day is that there should be an easier way to fold down the seats. And second, there’s no close & lock button for the rear hatch. I think almost every SUV could use that. To get my mind off of the rear let’s go to the front where Toyota finally brings their new multimedia system to the Highlander with an available 12.3 inch screen. A 12-inch digital gauge cluster is also available, and wireless charging has been moved from the center console box to under the center dashboard for easier access. While trying to realign my chakras thanks to that volume knob, I’ll continue to focus on the new. Like this new 2.4L turbo 4-cylinder linked to an 8 speed automatic transmission (graphic: Turbo 4-cylinder 265 hp/ 310 lb-ft, Outgoing V6 295 hp/ 263 lb-ft) that now replaces the outgoing V6. Horsepower takes a ding but relax, torque gets a big bump which allows this 4 banger to tow up to 5,000 pounds, and this new powertrain is more environmentally conscious with an improvement in CO2 emissions. Along with added torque, this new powertrain improves fuel economy (2023 4-cylinder 22 city/ 29 hwy. 2022 V6 21 city/ 29 hwy). Yeah not by MUCH but adding AWD only penalizes efficiency by 1 mpg, so let’s count the small wins. These numbers are on par with this segment but if you’re looking for more efficiency, the Highlander Hybrid will put out a combined 36 mpg, with the same 1 mpg ding if you opt for AWD. This is definitely an easy vehicle to drive. Visibility outward is good, the seats are comfy, and the cabin doesn’t have much road noise coming in. Driving around town the Highlander carries itself well and doesn’t feel like a heavy SUV. Brakes are a little squishy but you get used to it. Steering is light which is just fine because driving this should be a relaxing experience. One way to change that is the drive modes. All Highlanders come with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ which includes pre-collision with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, and lane tracing assist. Blind spot warning is also available on all but the lowest base trim. Pricing for a base Highlander starts at ($36,420) plus destination, and that includes 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, smart key access with push button start, cloth seating for 8 passengers with power adjustable driver’s seat, 8-inch touchscreen with wireless phone connectivity, tri-zone climate control, and 5 USB ports. Competitors in the midsize 3-row SUV segment are vast and include the aforementioned Honda Pilot and Chevy Traverse, the new Mazda CX-90, Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, and if you’re in need of more 3rd row space the Toyota Grand Highlander will be available soon. So, so many midsize 3-row SUVs to choose from. But Toyota gives the Highlander a way to stand out with different powertrains, practicality, and that Toyota reliability and resale value that may help ownership be… a relaxing experience. I’m out of coffee. 00:00 2023 Toyota Highlander 0:40 Exterior 1:07 Interior 4:50 Engine 5:10 Driving Impressions 9:15 Competitors