Chicago Auto Show 2020

Toyota adding Highlander XSE to lineup for 2021

Toyota has introduced a new Highlander grade.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The Toyota Highlander is one of the best-selling SUVs in the country. Toyota is looking tp draw in even more customers by offering a high level sport grade to its Highlander lineup.

For the 2020 model year, the three-row SUV underwent a complete redesign giving it better passenger space, more high-tech features, and a cost-effective hybrid variant. This new trim level adds another sport-driven variation for customers to choose with a long list of enhancements. It is positioned between the XLE and Limited grades.

2021 Toyota Highlader XSE

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The exterior of the Highlander XSE features machined-faced 20-inch wheels with black accents; a fresh front fascia, grille, and lower spoiler; and headlamps with black accents and light-strip daytime running lights. Black mirror caps, roof rails, and winndow moldings add to the look. There are also unique rocker panels and the first dual-tip exhaust on a Highlander.

The new model features the same power plat that is in the rest of the non-Hybrid models in the Highlander lineup, a 3.5-liter V6 that achieves 295 horsepower and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota will offer the model with standard front-wheel drive and make it available with all-wheel drive. Drivers will be able to choose the SUV's drive mode via the Multi-Terrain Select dial on the center console.

Its underpinnings feature higher-rate springs, a rear stabilizer bar, and shock absorbers that have been re-tuned for lower friction. The midsize SUV's steering has also be re-tuned to deliver a sportier steering feel. Toyota says that the enhancements allow the Highlander to keep its comfortable ride quality.

Inside are black Softex-trimmed seats with fabric inserts. Ambient lighting and carbon-fiber accents on the instrument panel are standard. A two-tone black and red leather is available and comes complete with a red-stitched instrument panel.

Like the other Highladers in Toyota's lineup, the XSE grade features Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. There are five USB ports in the model and an available 11-speaker JBL sound system.

Toyota says that other updates to the 2021 Highlander will be announced later, but the XSE is slated for launch this fall. Pricing is expected to be announced closer to the model's on-sale date.

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The Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group offers factory-backed half-door comfort, style, and safety.
Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep Wrangler owners who want an open-air experience but don't want the complete doors-off look have a new from-the-factory option. Jeep Performance Parts and Mopar have worked together to create new half-doors for the iconic SUV.

The new Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group features two factory engineered, tested, and backed half-door options that offer owners the option to have production-level styling, security, and occupancy protection in addition to improved visibility.

Available for both two- and four-door Jeep Wrangler models through the Mopar Custom Shop, as part of an original new-vehicle purchase in the U.S. and Canada, the new Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group includes both full and half doors. Full-steel production doors are installed on the vehicle while matching body-color half doors are packaged within the vehicle.

    Jeep Wrangler Dual-Door Group

    Photo courtesy of Stellantis

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    With production-level materials and build quality, new half doors are designed to work when equipped with any of the following features: power mirrors, blind-spot detection, passive and non-passive entry handles, and power locks. A quick and easy swap from full doors to half doors can be accomplished within minutes using the existing hinge locations and the exact same wiring connections.

    The newly developed upper-window assemblies are designed to have a weather-tight sealant feature zippered plastic windows. Two materials are offered for the assemblies: base-model vinyl that matches the production soft-top roof or premium acrylic that matches the premium soft-top roof.

    Each upper-door frame section uses an easy, tool-free, dual-guide post feature for easy installation and removal.

    The Dual-Door Group is now available on two- and four-door Jeep Wrangler Sport, Rubicon; Sahara, Rubicon 392, and 4xe models. Factory-option pricing for the U.S.s tarts at $2,350 for the two-door's Dual-Door Group with base-model upper-window assembles while the four-door costs $3,995. Checking the box for the more premium version of the upper-window assemblies moves the price tag up to $2,550 for the two-door and $4,395 for the four-door.

    Warranty coverage for each Dual-Door Group option is included as part of the new-vehicle warranty of three years/36,000 miles.

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    Toyota is mobilizing, putting its money where its mouth is to help Texas affected by severe winter weather.

    Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

    Winter Storm Uri impacted nearly every single one of Texas's 254 counties. North Texas-based Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) has pledged $1 million in relief for those affected by the storm. The aid is slated to serve both Toyota and Lexus customers and a variety of Texas-based non-profit organizations.

    Over 60 Texas counties were part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) recent Texas Severe Winter Storms (DR-4586-TX). It is currently categorized as an active disaster.

    "We take our role as community leaders seriously, so when winter storms affected millions right in our back yard, our top priority became helping Texas get back on its feet after this ordeal," said Sean Suggs, group vice president of Social Innovation, TMNA. "Texans have supported our company in myriad ways, and we want to help our neighbors emerge from this storm stronger than ever."

    The $1 million relief effort includes:

    North Texas/DFW Metroplex

    • United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, in support of North Texas Cares and West Dallas nonprofits to quickly distribute funds to grassroots organizations: $450,000
    • North Texas Food Bank: $100,000
    • The Family Place and Genesis Women's Shelter to fund hotel rooms, food, and transportation for their clients: $30,000
    • Toyota employees will be able to support the needs of four North Texas community partners significantly impacted by the storms by purchasing items from their Amazon Wish Lists.

    San Antonio

    • SAWS Community Pipe Repair Fund, through the San Antonio Area Foundation to assist individuals and families stay in their homes safely with funds for plumbing repairs: $100,000
    • Let's Help SA Fund to provide food, water and shelter: $200,000

    Houston

    • United Way of Greater Houston to support the Greater Houston 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund that supports local home repairs: $50,000
    • Houston Food Bank: $50,000
    • CrowdSource Rescue to provide food, water and fuel: $20,000

    Additionally, Toyota will match up to $10,000 in individual employee contributions to nonprofit organizations recovering from the storm.

    Toyota and Lexus Financial Services customers who are looking for loan and lease payment relief, and were impacted by the storm, may be able to receive assistance under a new Toyota program that has a variety of options for clients.

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