Toyota is expanding its SUV range for 2024 with the new Grand Highlander, a more spacious alternative to the three-row Highlander that has been on sale since 2020 in its current form. While the two models may share a name, there are many distinguishing features that set the new Grand Highlander apart from its smaller sibling.
The most obvious difference is the design. Not only is the Grand Highlander bigger—stretching 6.5 inches longer, 2.0 inches longer and 2.3 inches wider—but the new crossover also benefits from unique styling. The slick front end of the Highlander has been swapped for a more upright, boxier look dominated by straight lines and sharp angles. The rear end is also fresh, with a D-pillar and taillights more reminiscent of the compact RAV4 than the mid-size Highlander. While the regular Highlander has a trendy blacked-out A-pillar and a slight slope to the roofline, the Grand Highlander model sticks to a more traditional roofline.
An extra four inches in the wheelbase improves interior space, with the third row adding 5.5 inches of legroom, an inch of headroom and more than 2 inches of shoulder room. Not only is the third row now actually comfortable for adults, but rear passengers are also treated to a USB-C port, absent in the standard Highlander. Both crossovers have dual cupholders in the third row.
The Grand Highlander also differentiates itself by offering ventilated captain’s chairs for the second row in the top Platinum trim. The Grand’s added length is also a boon for cargo space, with five more cubic feet behind the third row or an extra 14 cubic feet with the two rear rows folded away.
The dashboard has been tweaked with a more streamlined design, but like the more expensive Highlander trims, the Grand has both a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12.3-inch central touchscreen. As with the standard Highlander, you’ll need to upgrade to the top-of-the-line Platinum model if you want goodies like a heads-up display and a digital rearview mirror.
The Grand Highlander will be offered with three powertrain choices. The headliner is the Hybrid Max setup, which first appeared in the Crown last summer. A turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four works with two electric motors—one driving the rear axle and the other between the engine and the six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain has been revamped for use in the Grand Highlander, producing a combined 362 horsepower—up from 340 ponies in the Crown—and 400 pound-feet of torque. Toyota also says it’s been tweaked to help the Grand Highlander achieve a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is equal to the maximum for the standard Highlander.
The Grand also comes with two smaller powertrains, both of which are found in the smaller Highlander. Toyota didn’t specify outputs, but said that little has changed other than tuning differences to account for the Grand’s, well, larger size. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four mated to an eight-speed automatic, producing 265 hp in the standard Highlander. A hybrid setup that combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors and CVT transmission for a total of 243 hp is also available in both SUVs. Just like in the original Highlander, these powertrains are offered in the Grand with front- or all-wheel drive, but the Hybrid Max is all-wheel drive only thanks to the electric motor on the rear axles.
Chassis and suspension
The Grand Highlander, unsurprisingly, shares its TNGA-K platform with the standard Highlander, but Toyota hasn’t left the Grand’s structure untouched. The automaker says the body is stronger and stiffer thanks to more spot welds and extra adhesives. These upgrades are also said to keep the cabin quieter and better insulate the occupants from vibrations or bumps in the road. Contributing to this smoother, quieter ride is a revised rear suspension that allows the multilink setup to be redesigned to increase third-row and boot roominess.
As is the case with most new car reveals, Toyota is not yet disclosing the price of the 2024 Grand Highlander. We predict the enlarged crossover will start at $43,000, with the top Platinum trim opening around $56,000. That would put it about $4000 to $6000 higher than the regular Highlander, and we expect the Hybrid Max to be offered only on the Limited and Platinum, with the XLE receiving only the base engine and less powerful hybrid setup.