Toyota Grand Highlander expands its hybrid crossover lineup

Toyota Grand Highlander expands its hybrid crossover lineup

  • Toyota Motor Company is expanding its crossover lineup with the new 2024 Grand Highlander.
  • The vehicle is the latest of automakers trying to expand and test their pricing power as consumers spend record amounts on new cars.
  • The SUV will be offered with three different powertrains, including two hybrid powertrains, setting it apart from many of its top competitors like the Ford Explorer and Kia Telluride.

Toyota Grand Highlander 2024

Toyota

CHICAGO – Toyota Motor Co. is expanding its class-leading three-row crossover lineup with the new 2024 Grand Highlander, including two gas-powered hybrid offerings.

The automaker unveiled the vehicle as a bigger sibling to the Toyota Highlander midsize SUV/crossover on Wednesday evening. It’s longer and wider than the Highlander and offers 13.2 cubic feet of additional cargo volume, according to Toyota.

The car is the latest example of automakers trying to expand and test their pricing power as consumers spend record amounts on new cars. The average price paid for a new car this year has reached nearly $50,000, as automakers prioritize high-end models over entry-level models amid persistent and improving supply chain issues.

Toyota hasn’t announced pricing for the Grand Highlander, but analysts expect it to be higher than similar regular models, which start from $36,000 to $51,000. It will be offered in three trim levels when it arrives at dealerships this summer.

Toyota Grand Highlander 2024

Toyota

The average price paid for a current Highlander was more than $46,600 — $48,801 for a hybrid — during the fourth quarter of last year, according to Edmunds.

The Grand Highlander adds to the growing three-row midsize crossover segment in the U.S., which has expanded from 12 nameplates in 2018 to 16 vehicles in 2023, including the Grand Highlander, Edmunds reports. Other recent additions include the Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride.

The Grand Highlander will compete with those vehicles as well as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse and other popular large midsize SUVs/crossovers. Such vehicles have become increasingly popular — with sales up 4% from 2018 to 2022 — as Americans turn away from large sedans and other vehicles.

Consumers are increasingly looking at three-row crossovers as alternatives to minivans, which are comfortable but have faced stigmas of being uncool, said Evan Drury, Edmunds’ director of insights, said.

“Everyone wants a pickup truck but no one wants to admit it,” he said. “People want third rows even if they don’t use them.”

Toyota Grand Highlander 2024

Toyota

The Grand Highlander was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show this week. Many car brands such as Jeep and Volkswagen are expected to unveil special models that will likely lead to a price hike.

Although the Grand Highlander is larger than the standard Highlander, it will be smaller than Toyota’s Sequoia SUV, which is produced through a truck-based, or “body-on-frame” process. This assembly provides greater utility but less comfort on the road than the “unibody” process used in cars and crossovers like Highlander models.

“The current Highlander is a little smaller than the Palisade or Traverse,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal auto analyst at S&P Global Mobility. “You have room for this. And it’s not a ‘truck’ like the Sequoia.”

The Highlander was one of Toyota’s best-selling cars last year, with nearly 223,000 cars sold. It was sold only through the Toyota RAV4 small crossover and Camry sedan. Brinley doesn’t expect the Grand Highlander to be a mass product, but he said it “completes” Toyota’s crossover lineup and gives customers more choices.

Edmunds reported that the Highlander was the best-selling three-row midsize crossover/SUV in the U.S. last year, beating out the Ford Explorer, Grand Cherokee L and Toyota 4Runner. It’s also one of the most frequently shopped vehicles by consumers in the segment, according to Edmunds.

Toyota Grand Highlander 2024

Toyota

Toyota says the Grand Highlander will offer a host of active safety and convenience features as well as 13 cup holders and seven USB-C charging ports across the vehicle’s three rows.

The SUV will be offered with three different engines, including two hybrid powertrains, setting it apart from many of its top competitors. An entry-level turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine and a hybrid V6 are currently available on the Highlander. Toyota said the advanced V6 Hybrid MAX engine will produce 362 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque.

The Grand Highlander Hybrid follows Toyota’s overall strategy of offering a mix of conventional gas engines, hybrids and all-electric vehicles in its pursuit of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“This three-row model takes the Highlander’s heritage into a whole new space while also keeping our promise of electrification,” Lisa Materazzo, group vice president of Toyota Marketing, said in a statement.

Toyota’s U.S. lineup includes 10 hybrids, two hybrid electric vehicles, the all-electric bZ4X and the fuel-cell Mirai.

The Japanese automaker has been criticized by some investors and environmental groups for not moving to fully electric vehicles more quickly. The company said that not all consumers will switch to electric cars at the same time, and that it could produce dozens of hybrid cars with the same amount of carbon emissions as one all-electric car.

Toyota plans to invest nearly $70 billion in electric vehicles, including $35 billion in all-electric battery technologies, over nine years. It plans to offer about 70 electric models globally by 2025.

Toyota – the world’s largest automaker – plans to sell about 3.5 million fully electric vehicles annually by 2030, which is only a third of its current annual sales.

(tags for translation) Breaking News: Business

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