Pricing will be announced closer to the launch date.
The transmission is linked to a new 3.5-liter direct-injection V6 engine. Toyota did not announce powertrain specifications.
The new engine is optional on all Highlander gasoline models and standard on the 2016 Highlander Hybrid. All hybrid models will be equipped with a continuously variable transmission.
Toyota said Highlander V6 models, except for the LE grade, will come standard with a new stop-start engine system designed to conserve fuel.
The EPA has not posted official fuel economy numbers on the 2017 Highlander or Highlander Hybrid.
The base 2017 Highlander 4x2 LE gas models will be equipped with the carryover 185-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Toyota also will introduce a new 2017 Highlander SE model that puts the emphasis on sportiness.
It features 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a tuned suspension and a dark paint treatment on the grille. The cabin is equipped with black leather-trimmed seats with silver stitching, a black front tray and matching dash and door inserts.
Standard equipment on the 2017 Highlander includes the Toyota Safety Sense P package that includes automatic pre-collision braking, lane-departure alert and dynamic radar cruise control.
Edmunds says: The 2017 Highlander raises the bar in this crowded segment with several significant updates.