Car and Driver 10 Best Trucks and SUVs
From the January 2024 issue of Car and driver.
Toyota makes so many SUVs in different shapes and sizes that you could be forgiven for thinking that the new 2024 Grand Highlander is an unnecessary addition to the lineup. There were already seven distinct models spanning every segment imaginable, so what could another three-row crossover bring to the table?
But not only does the Grand Highlander’s superiority legitimize its existence, this new model is so good that it threatens to render some of Toyota’s other offerings irrelevant. It’s much more than just a larger version of the Highlander; It outperforms its competitors, providing the right mix of practicality, refinement and driving satisfaction.
That’s Max power—or more specifically, the Hybrid Max powertrain available on the Limited and Platinum trim levels of the Grand Highlander. While its name may suggest marketing nonsense, this new setup actually takes Toyota’s hybrid prowess to a new level. It sounds a bit complicated: a 2.4-liter turbo four with an electric motor sandwiched between it and a six-speed automatic transmission, plus another motor driving the rear axle. But what it does offer is a winning combination of strong acceleration and miserly fuel economy that evades many hybrids that offer only one or the other and certainly not both at the same time.
In our testing, the 362-hp Grand Highlander Hybrid Max accelerated to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, which is faster than some competitors by a noticeable margin. It also promises an impressive EPA combined fuel economy of 27 mpg, and we came close to that number in real-world driving despite our heavy-duty tendencies. Better yet, many of the Hybrid Max’s components combine in a linear and seamless way, providing smooth power delivery and responsive acceleration. Throttle tip-off is particularly excellent, and the brake pedal doesn’t exhibit the unpredictable crankiness of many other hybrids. On top of all that refinement and performance, the Hybrid Max model can tow up to a competitive 5,000 pounds and comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Other versions include the base XLE model with the same 2.4-liter turbocharged electric inline-four or a lesser hybrid powertrain with the more affordable 2.5-liter engine and is rated at a meaner 34 to 36 mpg combined. It may not be quite as powerful as the top Hybrid Max models, but it serves to illustrate the inherent strengths of the package. Handsome, well-proportioned, and far less bulky than many other Toyota designs, the Grand Highlander’s body has a carefully considered boxy shape that expertly balances form and function.
The Grand Highlander intelligently divides space between the three rows, and carefully selected materials line the cabin, regardless of trim level. The interior isn’t exactly luxurious (that’s a function of the Grand Highlander’s upscale cousin, the Lexus TX), but the knobs and buttons work logically, and the infotainment screen didn’t bother us in the ways of many competitors’ systems. Storage compartments are plentiful, and the Grand Highlander doesn’t make you choose between carrying passengers or cargo. Even with the third row open, you can place items in the cargo area, and the seats fold easily to increase capacity to a maximum of 98 cubic feet. The Grand Highlander also offers the Party Trim of the available eight-seat configuration, which is not available on every three-row model.
The 2.4-liter hybrid models are very competitively priced, only a few thousand dollars more than the smaller, less expensive standard Highlander, so upgrading to the big version is a no-brainer. Equipped with the highly desirable optional Hybrid Max setup, the Grand Highlander’s Limited and Platinum models are admittedly on the higher end of the three-row SUV price spectrum, approaching $60,000. But we’d happily pay extra for such a powerful powertrain and its unparalleled combination of power, efficiency and refinement – especially when installed in such an all-around SUV.
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Toyota Grand Highlander 2024
187 hp 2.5L-4 + 2 or 3 AC engines (245 hp combined), 265 hp turbo 2.4L -4, 265 hp turbo 2.4L -4 + 2 AC (362 hp) combined) ); Continuously variable automatic, Continuously variable automatic/direct drive, 8-speed automatic, 6-speed automatic/direct drive
Base: $44,465 – $55,435
grandfather Test Results (2.4T AWD/Hybrid Max)
60 mph: 5.6-7.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.3-15.3 seconds
Top speed: 113-117 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 184-187 ft
Road Holder, 300ft Skateboard: 0.80g
EPA Combo/City/Highway: 22–36/20–37/26–34 mpg
Despite growing up on a steady diet of base-model Hondas and Toyotas—or perhaps because of it—Joey Caparella had an obsession with the automobile industry throughout his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee. He found a way to write about cars for the school newspaper during his college years at Rice University, which eventually led him to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to start his first professional auto writing gig at Rice University. Car magazine. It was part of Car and driver Team since 2016 and now lives in New York City.