The burgeoning “entry luxury” class of automobiles has seen many changes since its inception, with shoppers struggling to understand exactly what constitutes a true “entry level luxury car.” Is it the amount of space...
Driving the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD
Driving the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD
We recently had the opportunity to drive a 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD. I have to say I walked away from the experience impressed. The Highlander looks sharp, drives great, has tons of storage, and manages to sip gasoline to the tune of 35 miles to the gallon. It is like Toyota got into my mind and built a car to match my needs.
We are a family of 5 that takes road trips and for us, that means any vehicle that we use has to meet a pretty lengthy list of “must haves”. There needs to be plenty of seating and it needs to be comfortable. There has to be storage available even with all of the seats in use. We need usb ports to charge devices and the vehicle has to deliver this stuff while simultaneously offering world class safety and efficiency. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD delivers on every single one of these needs PLUS it manages to do it with style and class.
Toyota is a company that thrives on setting impossible goals and they have been that way since day one. Way back in 1937, Kiichiro Toyoda decided that he wanted to produce a vehicle in Japan using only Japanese technology. This was considered impossible at the time but Kiichiro Toyoda didn't let that deter him from his dream. He figured it out and managed to make the impossible reality and that drive to achieve the impossible is to this day a driving force within Toyota.
You can see this philosophy in practice when you drive a Toyota vehicle. The Hybrid technology that propels you down the road while saving gasoline is one example and the Safety Sense system is another. Both of these technologies offer features that would have been considered impossible not all that long ago. Toyota redefines the driving experience with the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD combining history and technology together in the perfect package.
Step inside the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD
The first thing you will notice when entering the cabin of the Toyota Highlander is the trim. A mix of leather, wood, and chrome please they eye as the captains chair comfortably forms to your body. There is a touch screen control center to your right and there are storage nooks and shelves everywhere. It feels luxurious and it looks fantastic.
The front seats are both heated and vented. Personally I found them to very comfortable. The driver's seat offers powered 10 way adjustment, with full lumbar support built in. In practice the seat allowed me to find the perfect driving position while keeping me supported in all of the right spots.
The Highlander uses a push button start and it takes a moment to get used to vehicle startup. This is because starting the Toyota Highlander is a silent affair. As you press the brake and mash the button the dash comes to life, but there is no sound from the engine compartment. Nothing. It takes a little time to get used to that silence. As a parent, I personally haven't experienced silence in over 17 years. I like this cabin!
The panoramic moonroof on the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD is massive. It stretches the length of the roof and it does a great job of giving passengers that open air feeling. It's about as close as you can get to convertible without actually having a convertible top.
The console in between the driver and passenger is where you will find your drive train controls. In addition to the standard shifter, there are controls here that allow you to change how the vehicle performs. Drive mode offers choices between Eco, Normal, and Sport. The controls do what you might expect; Eco mode conserves gas, Normal is for everyday use and Sport mode offers a bit more acceleration. Additionally, there are buttons for EV and Trail mode. EV mode allows the vehicle to travel short distances while only using the electric motor while trail mode provides extra traction.
Rear Seating and Storage
The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum offers a second row of captain seats, both heated. Behind that is the third row seating. Passengers in the back have their own cupholders, usb ports, and climate controls. Leg room is ample in the second row, but a bit cramped in the third row.
Storage is impressive even with the third row in use. As you can see from the photo above, there is plenty of room for luggage or groceries with the third row in use. This was a big plus for our family because road trips can be comfortable with a full car of people and luggage.
Entertainment is controlled via the 12.3 inch touch screen located in the center of the dash. Music comes to life thanks to an 11 speaker JBL sound system. SiriusXM is built in and the vehicle is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Alexa. The touch screen also houses the Dynamic Navigation System to get you around town and in our testing it performed quite well. The system knew about potential slow downs in our route and worked to minimize time lost.
On of the features that we really loved on the Toyota Highlander was one you don't look at all that often; the engine. The Hybrid powertrain mates a 2.5-Liter Double Overhead Cam with an electric motor and Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence. So what does that mean in plain English? It means you get a 7 passenger SUV that delivers 35 miles to the gallon of gas, and you don't sacrifice much at all in the way of performance. This is a great example of Toyota making the impossible possible and it is one of the things that makes this vehicle special. You cannot buy a comparably priced and equipped competitor that delivers 35 miles to the gallon of gas.
The Toyota Highlander Driving Experience
On the road, the Highlander is a pleasure. The steering is tight and accurate and pickup is good; this SUV wants to go where you point it. The vehicle gets up to highway speed quickly and there is more than enough passing power left should it be needed. Engine noise is fairly quiet although you can hear the gasoline power plant in the cabin if pushed hard. On long trips, features like Dynamic Cruise Control and Lane Departure Alert keep everyone safe and sound.
The Hybrid Platinum edition of the Highlander also includes a Color Heads Up Display (HUD). This system projects critical information onto the windshield in front of the driver, and is capable of showing speed, direction, navigational information, speed limit, and more. In practice, I found myself glancing at the actual dash of the car much less thanks to the HUD; that meant my eyes were on the road where they belong. I like that!
Toyota has created a perfect family SUV. It has the looks, features, safety systems, and performance that really meet the day to day needs of a family; especially my family. Overall the Highlander is a fantastic package with the base Highlander (all gas) starts at around $34,600, and the Hybrid models start at $38,200. The line maxes out with the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD, which comes in at just over $50,000. Note that all of the vehicles include Toyota's Safety Sense so they all have features like Dynamic Cruise Control, Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert, and more.
Bottom line, if you are in the market for a crossover SUV that can seat 7 while offering storage, comfort, efficiency, and performance, you need to test drive the 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD. It's worth the look. And if you do buy a Highlander, be sure to check out our Car Cleaning Hacks to keep your vehicle looking new.
A Girls Guide to Cars Conference
A Girls Guide to Cars brings together the insights and views of writers and reviewers who share their unbiased, honest, and personal narratives about cars and their lives in cars. Their mission is to empower women to be smarter, happier car owners.
A Girls Guide to Cars will be holding their annual conference virtually this year. The conference is free and the first 200 attendees who attend at least three conference sessions will receive a physical swag bag filled with goodies from our amazing sponsors in the mail. Click HERE to register.
This is a sponsored post but the opinions expressed are my own.