Chicago Auto Show 2020
Toyota adding Highlander XSE to lineup for 2021
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.
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.