Toyota moves up to Grand Highlander

The new Grand Highlander crowds midsize SUV market. (Bud Wells photos)

Another major player – the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander 4WD Platinum Hybrid sport ute – has driven right into the middle of the burgeoning, 3-row midsize SUV competitors.

The price range for this red-hot market is $30,000 to $60,000, and this big, loaded-up Grand Highlander qualifies – by $122. Sticker price of the one delivered to me is $59,878.

Among the many midsizers are the new Mazda CX-90 and relatively new Jeep Grand Cherokee L, the Acura MDX, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Expedition and Explorer, GMC Yukon, Honda Pilot, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, Subaru Ascent, Volkswagen Atlas and many others.

Toyota insists the Grand entry is much more than a stretched version of the Highlander of the past 20-plus years. The traditional Highlanders and Grand are built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. From there, though, the Grand is much larger, with upgrades structurally and in styling. The rigid platform gets it down the road with excellent control. The Grand Highlander’s 116-inch wheelbase and 201 overall length are 4 inches longer in wheelbase and 6 inches longer overall, with its 4,870 curb weight 400 pounds more than the regular Highlander.

2001 Toyota Highlander at First Christian Church of Wray.

The original Highlander was unveiled at the 2000 New York Auto Show; I drove one of the first to arrive in Denver to the 100th anniversary celebration of the First Christian Church at Wray in 2001. Today’s Grand Highlander is almost 1½ feet longer than the 2001 model.

Toyota has excelled in its production of numerous gas/electric hybrid vehicles, and the Grand was no exception in smoothness of acceleration, handling and braking. A big disappointment was its overall fuel mileage of 22.6 mpg. EPA estimated fuel economy for the Grand Highlander Hybrid is 26-27 mpg.

The review model’s top-end Platinum trim brings the turbocharged 2.4-liter Hybrid Max 4-cylinder with 362 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Tow capacity is 5,000 pounds. The Grand rides on Yokohama Geolander 255/55R20 tires.  Available in a lesser trim is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and two electric motors for a combined 243 horsepower.

The Grand is spacious, with 20.6 cubic feet behind a third row of seating, with room for three adults, plus two bucket seats in the middle row, the normal two up front for seven-passenger total.

Those front seats are heated and ventilated, the second row pair is heated and further highlighting the interior is JBL audio, with wireless AppleCarplay and Android Auto compatibility. The Grand Highlander is built at Princeton, Ind.