Toyota Stretches SUV Line-Up with World Debut of Grand Highlander

Three powertrains and three rows of roominess are offered in the 2024 Grand Highlander.

The 2024 Grand Highlander has three rows of seating and three available propulsion choices. (Toyota)

The new Grand Highlander is a three-row midsize SUV, just like Highlander. So it’s not surprising that the Toyota siblings share two powertrains. “Although the core 2.4-L turbo and 2.5-L HEV engines are common, they are uniquely tuned and calibrated for each vehicle,” asserted Craig Payne, chief engineer of the 2024 Grand Highlander, which made its global debut on Feb. 8 in conjunction with the 2023 Chicago Auto Show.

Grand Highlander’s controls are centered around a standard 12.3-in multimedia display. (Toyota)

But unlike the 2-row Highlander, the Grand Highlander also offers a high-performance hybrid powertrain. Producing an estimated 362 hp and 400 lb-ft torque with standard all-wheel drive, the Hybrid MAX propulsion system pairs electric motors with a 2.4-L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder. The Hybrid MAX system, which U.S.-debuted for Toyota’s 2023 Crown sedan, is fitted with dual exhaust on the Grand Highlander. The performance powertrain also delivers a 5,000-lb (2268-kg) towing capacity.

Grand Highlander has up to 98 cubic feet of cargo space with both third-row seats folded. (Toyota)

All three Grand Highlander propulsion options provide three selectable drive modes (sport, eco and normal). Three additional driving modes (mud & sand, rock & dirt andsnow) are provided by the multi-terrain select system that is offered with models powered by the 2.4-L turbocharged engine or the Hybrid MAX powertrain.

The Highlander and Grand Highlander share platform attributes. “Both vehicles are developed considering the TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) architecture; however, the vehicles differ based on interior packaging, rear suspension and the Grand Highlander offers the Hybrid Max powertrain,” noted Payne.

In the U.S. market, three-row SUVs reflect a burgeoning competitive segment that includes Toyota Highlander and Grand Highlander, Jeep Grand Wagoneer, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Hyundai Palisade, and Kia Telluride. “When you compare with other vehicles, the Grand Highlander has a long distance between A-off point to back-door trim,” Payne noted. Grand Highlander has approximately 98 cubic feet of space with seats folded down. From a third-row seating perspective, Grand Highlander is a stretched version of Highlander. “Due to the new multi-link rear suspension, the floor was able to be lowered, which has increased the heel-hip dimension,” according to Payne. The wheelbase increased approximately 6.5-in. (165 mm) from the 2023 Highlander’s 112.2 in. (2850 mm). That in turn increased Grand Highlander’s second- and third-row couple distance (distance between the hip point of occupants in the second and third row) by approximately 3.74 in. (95 mm). “We have also increased the third-row headroom compared to the Highlander by approximately 0.94-in. (24 mm),” noted Payne.

A feeling of roominess applies to occupants in all three seating rows. “We achieved this by creating a roof headlining that connects smoothly from front to rear,” Payne noted.

The Grand Highlander’s third-row seating. (Toyota)

The 2024 Grand Highlander is equipped with the next-generation Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 3.0). The suite of technologies includes lane departure alert with steering assist (enabling detection of certain 3D objects, such as guardrails), and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control (adding a fourth following distance setting from the previously available three settings). TSS 3.0 also adds a new feature, proactive driving assist. When certain conditions are met, the proactive driving assist provides gentle braking into curves, or gentle braking and/or steering to support distance control between a vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist.

Assembly of the 2024 Grand Highlander will be at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing plant in Princeton, Indiana. The Grand Highlander will be offered in three grades (XLE, Limited, Platinum). Pricing and sale date will be announced in late summer.