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

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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New minivan

Honda announces new Odyssey Sport

Sport is a new trim for the Odyssey minivan.

Honda

The Honda Odyssey may not be the most exciting vehicle in the world, but it's getting a new Sport model that at least makes it look the part. Honda will release the model for the 2023 model year, and the Odyssey line overall will be offered with a new Honda Service Pass, which includes two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance.

The Odyssey Sport slots into the Honda catalog between the EX-L and Touring trims. It comes with gloss-black exterior trim and black 19-inch wheels outside, and black leather with red stitching inside. The cabin comes with red accent lighting on the dash and in the footwells, and the roof pillars and headliner are both black. Under the hood, the Odyssey Sport gets the same 3.5-liter V6 from years past. It makes 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with a ten=speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

2023 Honda Odyssey SportThe Sport comes with dark exterior trim and unique leather upholstery with red stitching inside. Honda

All Odyssey models come with Honda Sensing safety equipment, which includes adaptive cruise control and pedestrian detection. The 2023 van hasn't been crash-tested yet, but the 2022 model earned a Top Safety Pick + award, so it's likely the new model will be rated similarly.

Honda Service Pass is a new program for 2023+ Honda vehicles. It covers routine scheduled maintenance for up to two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Under the program, buyers get free oil changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections.

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The Supra finally gets a manual transmission for 2023.

Toyota

After an almost nonstop chorus of enthusiasts and journalists asking for a manual transmission in the new Supra, Toyota has gone and done it. The car will get an available six-speed manual transmission that will be available on both variants of the GR Supra 3.0, plus a limited-edition model on the U.S. market next year.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTToyota had to modify the car's interior for the new gearbox. Toyota

The A91-MT Edition Supra will be limited to 500 units, and gets two exterior colors with an exclusive Cognac leather interior. All 2023 Supras come with a 3.0-liter straight-six engine that makes 382 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Toyota says the six-speed manual has been specially tuned to work with the car's engine, and notes that it modified an existing transmission housing to come up with the design. The gearbox's final drive ratio is shortened to improve response and take-off.

Toyota had to modify the car's interior to accommodate a gearshift lever, so the iDrive controller and other buttons had to be relocated. The automaker says that it focused on the feeling of shifting, from the weight of the knob to the ergonomics and location of the component.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTThe limited-edition A91-MT trim gets an exclusive cognac leather interior.Toyota

A Supra with a manual gearbox is reason to celebrate, but availability is limited to the top Supra 3.0. The "base" Supra 2.0 won't get the transmission. Toyota says pricing and other information will be available later this year.

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