ALISTAIR WEAVER: Hi, Alistair Weaver here for Edmunds with a 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander, which is basically like a Highlander but bigger and says Toyota grander.
In this film, we're going to tell you all about this new family three row. We're going to compare it with great rivals, like the Kia Telluride. We're going to tell you what we like, and just as importantly, we're going to tell you what we don't like. And now, without further ado, let's get on with it.
The Grand sits between the standard Highlander and the gargantuan new Sequoia in Toyota's lineup Priced around 45 to 60 grand, it's built in Indiana and is billed as a proper three row with space in the back for real people and at least some of their luggage.
Welcome to the interior of the Grand Highlander, which is very Toyota, by which I mean it's very practical, very sensible, conservative, but not necessarily the last word in luxury, style, or sophistication. This is the flagship platinum trim, so you're looking at $55,000 worth of SUV. And to be honest, it doesn't quite feel like it.
Kia's done a good job of bridging that gap between mass market and luxury, but to be honest, Toyota hasn't quite got there yet. Some of the plastics still feel a bit hard and cheap. I'm far from convinced by this fake wood, which has clearly been nowhere near a tree. And this has been a long bugbear of mine-- that key would have felt cheap back in the '90s.
But it does work. You have a total of 13 different cup holders littered across the cabin. That's 13 cupholders for up to eight passengers, remember. You also have seven USB-C charging points. You have wireless charging here for your iPhone, and it's also good to see AC plug sockets for charging things like a laptop. So the family should be able to keep themselves entertained.
As you'd expect, there's also tons of ornament space for the kind of family detritus that characterizes my family life-- decent bin here in the middle, door pockets, glovebox, little shelf here, something else going on here, and plenty of stuff in the rear that we'll get to in a moment. This vehicle has been clinic'd, it's been discussed, and it's been built for American family life.
If you're buying one of these, you're going to care just as much about the rear quarters as you are the front. This seat set up for me. I'm 6 foot 4. And as you can see, a decent amount of space here in the middle row.
Also a few little features that I should point out, which I'm quite a big fan of. You actually have a couple of slots here. So each of your pesky kids gets a spot for a different iPad in the backseat. More cupholders, more ornament storage, and data access. You can actually take this out and do something with it. Quite well. I'm not so sure. In theory, you can put it back as well.
What else we got back here? Well, on this flagship model, we've got separate controls for the air conditioning. We've got ventilated seats. We've got heated seats, more USBs. Here's a little AC PowerPoint. I mentioned earlier decent door pockets. Nice to see some blinds as well. I mean, none of this is standout or unusual, but it's nicely put together. And there is a decent amount of space.
These doors are impressively wide. So actually getting into the third row is pretty easy. Let's just pull this down, lock that into place. But slightly frustratingly, that hasn't gone back into the position which it was originally set.
Now by the magic of television, we've actually readjusted the seat back into the position that it was. And as you can see, I actually have got a decent amount of space back here even if my knees are kind of up near my chin. It's also nice that I can shove my feet under the seat in front, which gives you the impression of more legroom than you've actually got. You've got more cupholders, more USB-C charging.
Now this bench is designed. Technically, you have 3, and it would be pretty intimate. But you can genuinely fit two proper sized adults back here. And nice to see I've got headroom, too.
The other thing I should point out is that you sit quite high on this third row of seats. And that's a good thing because you're looking over the top of the middle passengers. You've got a decent view out through these big windows as well. So I've been in a lot of three rows where it starts to feel claustrophobic back here. Not in this Grand Highlander.
Lots of three rows suffer from an absence of luggage space when all the seats are up, and Toyota is making some fairly bold claims that you can fit eight smaller suitcases in here. But to be honest, we're not fully convinced. If you look at the volume figures, there's about 20 cubic feet of space in here. Now that's just over half what you get in the much smaller RAV4. There's probably enough here for a weekly shop. This is a 13 inch MacBook Pro, just for a bit of context. You can also make it feel slightly bigger by adjusting the angle of these rear seats. But if they're that upright, you're going to get lots of complaints from those in the back.
So a weekend away or the weekly shop, no problem at all. But if you're taking seven or eight passengers for a week's vacation, you're going to need a roof box. But if you're willing to ditch grandpa or some of the kids, you can actually turn your Grand Highlander to a pretty effective family [? hold all. ?]
These rear most seats split 60-40 and fold flat. Then, if you fold down the middle row, you've got almost 100 cubic feet of space, which is impressive. It's also nice to see the head rests fold automatically as the seats tip.
Let's talk engines. There are three different options. There's an entry level gas engine with 265 horsepower, a hybrid with 245, and then the flagship hybrid max with 362 horsepower and 400 pounds feet of torque, which is a lot. The gas and base hybrid models are available with either front or all wheel drive. The hybrid max is all wheel drive only. That's the quick overview. But if you want to deep dive all the facts and figures and those of its rivals, head to our dedicated Grand Highlander page on edmunds.com.
Now as you can probably tell from all the glamorous photography, we're actually in Hawaii. Why? No idea. My wife is utterly convinced that I'm actually on vacation. But as you can see, I'm working very hard indeed.
Now nobody's buying a Grand Highlander to have it pose as a sports car, but nor do you want your kids vomiting in the rear seats. And on this twisty stuff, it generally handles itself pretty well. Body roll is well contained, and the steering has a nice, positive feel about it. One thing I do like about this gas version relative to the hybrid is the fact that it's got a proper gearbox, in this case, an eight speed automatic. The hybrid continues with the unloved CVT. But if you go for the hybrid max, that has a different kind of hybrid system. And that allows Toyota to fit a six speed more traditional automatic, which we much, much prefer.
If you want significantly more performance and smoother operation and are willing to pay for it, then the hybrid max is worth a look. We've driven it here in Hawaii. And the 362 horsepower-- it's 100 more than this vehicle-- really makes a difference. It's smoother, it's faster, and the fuel consumption is actually less. 27 miles per gallon combined compared with 22 for this and just 21 for the rival Telluride.
For a family focus vehicle, it's also good to report a pretty impressive array of safety equipment both to protect you should the worst happen and to help you avoid an accident in the first place. There's even a little gadget in front of me that's monitoring me for driver distraction and keeps binging at me on a pretty regular basis. We're not friends at the moment.
Apparently, Toyota thought about giving this SUV an entirely new name, reflecting the fact that it is very different vehicle to the familiar Highlander, different and better in a very Toyota way. Apart from the hybrid options that promise better fuel economy than its rivals, there's little here that's truly different or stand out. What we have is a very sensible, very practical, and, in many ways, very likeable family SUV in the best Toyota tradition. The extra space compared to the standard Highlander is hugely welcome and should help it appeal to families who might otherwise have chosen a minivan. Even Toyota accepts that it might steal sales from the Sienna.
Will this healthy dollop of common sense be enough to see the Toyota topple the Kia Telluride as Edmund's favorite three row? Well, we'll have to wait for the full test to find out. For more on this Toyota and all of its rivals, head to edmunds.com. That's it for now. Goodbye from Hawaii. And thanks for watching.