Toyota Highlander History: Four Generations Of The Family Crossover SUV

The Toyota Highlander, also known as the Toyota Kluger in some markets, is a mid-size crossover SUV that has become a staple in Toyota’s lineup. Shortly after its launch in 2000, it became Toyota’s best-selling model and it remained Toyota’s best-seller until 2006. Sharing its platform with the Lexus RX, the Toyota Highlander is known as the crossover version of the Toyota 4Runner.

Over the years, the Highlander has undergone several transformations, adapting to the changing needs of consumers while maintaining its reputation for reliability and comfort. This article delves into the history and generations of the Toyota Highlander, exploring each of its four generations.

Origins Of The Toyota Highlander

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a significant shift in the automotive industry towards crossover SUVs. Consumers were seeking vehicles that combined traditional SUVs’ ruggedness with passenger cars’ comfort and drivability. Toyota had first-hand experience in this segment, as it launched the first-ever series production crossover SUV — the Toyota RAV4 in 1994. Read all about the Toyota RAV4 and its generations here

Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 was designed for the adventurous soul. However, Toyota looked at producing a larger crossover for families. The result was the Toyota Highlander, built on a unibody platform, distinguishing it from Toyota’s other SUVs. 

First Generation | 2000 – 2007

The first-generation Toyota Highlander debuted at the New York International Auto Show in April 2000 and went on sale in January 2001 for the 2001 model year. This initial model set the tone for what the Highlander would become: a versatile, family-friendly vehicle with a focus on comfort and practicality.

first gen toyota highlander

The first-generation Highlander featured a simple, yet functional design. A 2.4-litre inline-4 powered the base trims. A 3.0-litre or a 3.3-litre V6 engine powered the higher trims. Buyers could choose between a 4-speed automatic gearbox and a 5-speed CVT.

Second Generation | 2007 – 2013

In 2007, Toyota introduced the second-generation Highlander, marking a significant evolution in the model’s design and capabilities. It featured a more substantial and refined design, with a larger body and a more prominent grille. 

Second Gen Toyota Highlander

This generation introduced a third row of seating, increasing the vehicle’s capacity to seven passengers. Notable additions included a touchscreen infotainment system, tri-zone automatic climate control, and an optional rear-seat entertainment system. 

The engine options for the second-generation Highlander included a 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine and a more powerful 3.5-litre V6 engine. A hybrid version of the 3.5-litre V6 was an option in certain markets. The SUV was made in Japan, China, and the USA.

Third Generation | 2013 – 2021

Introduced at the 2013 New York International Auto Show, the third-generation Highlander showcased a more aggressive and stylish exterior design, with a bold front grille, sleek lines, and a more aerodynamic profile. This generation brought forth a larger touchscreen infotainment system, and enhanced connectivity options.

Third Gen Toyota Highlander

It retained the engine options of the previous generation. However, a new 2.0-litre turbo-petrol inline-4 was introduced. This engine was specific to the Chinese market. This generation offered Toyota’s Safety Sense package, which comprised pre-collision warning, lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. 

Fourth Generation | 2020 – Present

The fourth-generation Highlander, introduced in 2020, represents the latest evolution of this popular crossover SUV. It features a more modern and sophisticated design, with a sleek exterior, a more prominent front grille, and sharper lines. With premium materials, a spacious cabin, and advanced technology, it has a refined interior .

Fourth Gen Toyota Highlander

Notable features include a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital rear view mirror, and a 10-inch color head-up display. The fourth-generation Highlander offers a range of powertrain options, including a 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid engine and a 3.5-liter V6 engine. 

The Fourth-Gen Toyota Highlander is among the more popular SUVs in the UAE. Buyers love the combination of efficiency, practicality, and reliability offered by the Highlander. The third generation of the Highlander too, is a common sight on UAE’s roads.

Toyota Highlander Prices In The UAE

Prices for a new Toyota Highlander for sale in the UAE range from AED 138,000 to AED 205,000. Prices for a used Toyota Highlander for sale in the UAE range from AED 49,000 to AED 185,000 depending on the model, year of manufacture, and condition.

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