The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a sleek new look in place of the previous-generation’s boxier styling. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a sleek new look in place of the previous-generation’s boxier styling. (Manufacturer photo)

Toyota Highlander Hybrid midsize SUV is all new for 2020

Fuel efficiency is increased by 24 percent over the previous model, and safety features abound.

Toyota’s midsize Highlander SUV is completely revamped for 2020, and the hybrid version is especially worthy of attention.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has an impressive 24-percent increase in fuel efficiency over the previous model, and is available for the first time with a choice of two-wheel or all-wheel drive. The previous Highlander Hybrid’s combined rating was 29 mpg but the 2020 version has a combined rating of 36 mpg for 2WD and 35 mpg for AWD.

Total horsepower rating for Highlander Hybrid’s 2020 powertrain is reduced to 243, but there’s still enough punch to keep the car well above reproach, especially given the boost in fuel efficiency, which hybrid buyers are more interested in anyway.

Exterior styling has been sculpted to turn the Highlander Hybrid into a sleek eye-catching vehicle in place of a boxy SUV. Interior styling follows suit. The cabin of the 2020 Highlander Hybrid Platinum model I drove could have come from a luxury brand costing thousands more.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is available in four trim levels: LE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum, with front-drive and all-wheel drive offered on every trim. Pricing ranges from $39,320 for a 2WD LE to $51,320 for an AWD Platinum. This includes a $1,120 destination charge.

An infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen is the centerpiece of the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum model’s interior. (Manufacturer photo)

An infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen is the centerpiece of the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum model’s interior. (Manufacturer photo)

Eight-passenger seating with a middle row bench seat is standard on the LE. All other trims come standard with captain’s chairs in the middle row, reducing seating capacity to seven but making access to the third row much easier. A middle row bench is available as an option on XLE and LTD models. The Platinum trim is available only in seven-passenger configuration.

The list of up-to-date safety and driver assistance technologies is long and inclusive across the board.

LE and XLE trims come standard with an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility, and SiriusXM satellite radio. The Limited trim adds navigation and a more sophisticated audio system.

Platinum models upgrade to a premium system with a 12.3-inch touchscreen that is the centerpiece of the Highlander Hybrid’s interior.

Highway cruising in the smooth and quiet 2020 Highlander Hybrid is dreamy. It handles well on Snohomish County’s woodsy winding backroads too, but is guilty of leaning – just a little bit – on some of the tighter turns.

Overall, this new Highlander Hybrid is best described as outstanding.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)

2020 TOYOTA HIGHLANDER HYBRID PLATINUM AWD

Base price, including destination charge: $51,320

Price as driven: $52,512

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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