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Highlander vs. Grand Highlander: What Are the Differences?

We compare the Highlander and Grand Highlander in terms of cargo room, passenger space, performance and more

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander front
  • The Toyota Highlander and Grand Highlander have much in common, but it's the Grand Highlander that delivers more space inside.
  • Each is available with a turbocharged four-cylinder or hybrid powertrain.
  • The Grand Highlander is also available with the Hybrid Max, a turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an electric motor that produces 362 horsepower.
  • Let's take a look at the key differences between these family-friendly Toyota SUVs.

The Toyota Highlander is a three-row midsize SUV that remains one of the most popular models in a highly competitive field. The Highlander is notable for its quiet and comfortable ride, along with impressive fuel economy and long roster of standard safety features. Yet the Highlander has a couple of drawbacks, and that’s where the 2024 Grand Highlander factors into the equation.

Revealed at this year's Chicago Auto Show, this larger version of the Highlander delivers two key things lacking in the standard model: adult-friendly third-row seating and cargo space to match roomier competitors. The Grand Highlander also features a potent hybrid powertrain that’s not available in the regular Highlander.

Here's how these two Toyota SUVs compare in terms of price, size, cabin space and other factors that are important to SUV shoppers.

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2023 Toyota Highlander front

Pricing: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

The Highlander is the clear winner if you don't want to pay a premium for a three-row Toyota SUV. Available in six trims, the Highlander starts at the budget-friendly Highlander L level, which carries a starting price of $37,775 including destination fees. In range-topping Platinum trim, when equipped with all-wheel drive and with the optional hybrid four-cylinder engine, the price jumps to $53,960.

As you’d expect — and not simply because it has “Grand” in its name — the XL-sized Grand Highlander commands a premium over its smaller sibling. At the time of writing, Toyota has not confirmed exact pricing details, though we do know the Grand Highlander skips the Highlander's lower L and LE trim levels.

In total, the Grand Highlander will come in three trims, XLE, XSE and Platinum. We expect the base model to start around $45,000, while a fully loaded model should come in at roughly $57,000.

2024 Toyota Grand HIghlander profile

Exterior dimensions: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

Both the Highlander and Grand Highlander have an upright design that bodes well for providing plenty of headroom and excellent outward visibility. The Grand Highlander has a notably blunter front end with a larger grille, however.

At 201.4 inches in length, the Grand Highlander is about 6 inches longer than the regular model. It’s also approximately 2 inches taller and 2 inches wider. For comparison, the three-row 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is 204.9 inches long, while the 2023 Kia Telluride comes in at 196.9 inches.

Performance and powertrains: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

The Highlander and Grand Highlander each come standard with a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 265 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Starting with the Highlander's 2023 model year, this engine replaces a 3.5-liter V6 that previously served as the base powertrain.

Next is the Highlander Hybrid and Grand Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder coupled to an electric motor. Together, this gas-electric powertrain churns out 243 combined horsepower. Like the non-hybrid turbo-four, this engine is available in front- or all-wheel-drive format. Yet with the hybrid, the eight-speed automatic is replaced by a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Unique to the Grand Highlander is a performance-tuned powertrain dubbed the Hybrid Max. This combines the turbocharged four with the hybrid’s electric motor to produce 362 horsepower. According to Toyota, this powertrain hustles the Grand Highlander from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.

2023 Toyota Highlander profile

Fuel economy: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

Because EPA estimates for the Grand Highlander are not yet available, we’ll use the standard Highlander as our fuel economy guide. If mpg is your top priority, know the Highlander Hybrid in front-wheel-drive format is the best fuel-sipper of the bunch, with an EPA-estimated 36 mpg in combined driving (36 city/35 highway).

At its thirstiest, the Highlander equipped with the base turbo-four and all-wheel drive returns 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). Because of its larger size and heftier curb weight, we expect the Grand Highlander with these same powertrains will be slightly thirstier.

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander cargo

Cargo capacity: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

If you’re one for bag-intensive shopping sprees, or you hate packing light for travel, the Grand Highlander scores an easy win. That’s because it boasts an expansive 20.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row. That might not seem a dramatic jump from the 16 cubic feet afforded in the regular Highlander, but it's a major win-win once you factor in that the rear seats in the Grand Highlander are far roomier.

With both the second and third-row seats folded, Toyota says the Grand Highlander delivers 98 cubic feet of cargo capacity compared to 84.3 cubes in the Highlander.

Towing capacity: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

The Toyota Highlander has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is about average for a midsize three-row SUV. This dips to 3,500 pounds if you choose the hybrid engine.

Despite having the stout Hybrid Max as an engine option, Toyota says the Grand Highlander has the same max towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. Again, while this is competitive, it’s worth noting rivals like the Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee L offer higher tow ratings.

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander dashboard

Interior: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

From the viewpoint of the first and second rows, there is little to separate the Highlander from the Grand Highlander. Each has a commanding view of the road and good outward visibility, and the materials used throughout the cabin feel durable rather than supremely supple. Granted, we’ve noted some competitors like the Kia Telluride and Jeep Grand Cherokee L have a more premium look to their interiors.

The big news, quite literally, is the additional 5.5 inches of legroom in the Grand Highlander's third row. Where the Highlander’s rearmost seats are best left for kids, the ones in the Grand Highlander accommodate adults too. With its slightly higher roof and increase in width, the Grand Highlander holds a clear advantage if you plan on routinely traveling with a full complement of passengers.

Technology: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

In the Highlander's L and LE trims, you’re greeted by an 8-inch touchscreen and standard features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, five USB ports and satellite radio. Starting from the XLE trim, the Highlander is available with a larger 12.3-inch screen that we’ve found easy to use after only a few minutes of practice.

The Grand Highlander's base XLE model comes standard with this larger infotainment screen, along with the other tech touches found in the Highlander. Options on each SUV include an upgraded JBL audio system, wireless device charging, navigation and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster.

Standard safety equipment is ample on both the Highlander and Grand Highlander, though you do have to opt for the Highlander LE to match the safety features present on the Grand Highlander XLE.

2023 Toyota Highlander rear

Driving impressions: Highlander vs. Grand Highlander

Until we’ve had the chance to spend time behind the wheel of the Grand Highlander, we’ll have to focus our driving impressions on the regular Highlander. During previous test drives, we’ve found the Highlander to be relaxed and comfortable, with light steering that makes it easy to maneuver. While the newly standard turbo four-cylinder is responsive, we’ve noted it gets much noisier under hard acceleration compared to the outgoing standard V6.

The same holds pretty much true with the 243-horsepower Highlander Hybrid. We’ve called its ride “plush” and admired its composed handling. The smooth progress of the brakes also inspires confidence in the dynamics of this midsize SUV.

Be sure to check back soon for our take on the Grand Highlander, including impressions of its punchy Hybrid Max powertrain.

Edmunds says

The Grand Highlander answers our two main complaints about the standard Highlander’s limited cargo space and kids-only third-row seating. While pricing has not been confirmed yet, we don't believe it will be dramatically more expensive than a comparable Highlander.