Expert Insights

Road Test: 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander

Laurance Yap
October 6, 2023
Since its introduction, Toyota has sold over 3 million Highlander SUVs, many of them fuel-sipping hybrids. Now, there is a new Grand Highlander with even more space - and it offers a choice of two hybrid powertrains.
2024 Toyota Grand Highlander parked by a beach, front exterior view

All-New Three-Row SUV With Three Powertrain Choices

Building on the success of the successful, spacious Highlander SUV, Toyota has introduced an all-new Grand Highlander for the 2024 model year. Larger and even more versatile than the Highlander, the Grand Highlander adds extra space for second- and third-row passengers, substantial cargo capacity, and a bold new look to the Highlander package, without sacrificing Toyota’s traditional virtues of reliability, quality, and fuel economy. Indeed, the Grand Highlander offers the option of three drivetrains, including two hybrid variations designed to deliver effortless performance as well as impressive efficiency.

2024 Toyota Highlander: Gasoline, Hybrid, or Hybrid Max Choices

The base powertrain for the all-new Grand Highlander is a 2.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that offers a strong 265 hp and a 0-60 mph time of just 7.5 seconds; the EPA estimates rates it at 24 mpg combined. While that’s not an impressive figure in itself, it’s very good for a vehicle this large with this much space.

More interesting are the two hybrid choices. Drivers most concerned about efficiency will want to choose the 245-hp hybrid powertrain, which combines a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with electric motors. The Grand Highlander Hybrid will dash to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, while also offering an impressive 36 mpg combined, according to the EPA estimates.

While offering slightly less fuel economy, at 27 mpg EPA estimated combined, the Hybrid Max option offers the most impressive specs. The most powerful midsize SUV Toyota has ever offered, the Grand Highlander Hybrid Max has 362 combined horsepower, 400 lb-ft of torque, and a rapid 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds. It also has 5,000 pounds of towing capacity, more than enough for most families to haul a trailer, boat, or a couple of motorcycles.

Uniting all three powertrains are a choice of three drive modes (eco, normal, and sport) which allow drivers to adjust the Grand Highlander’s behavior to suit their needs. Gasoline all-wheel drive models and the Hybrid Max (which offers standard all-wheel drive) also offer additional modes for mud/sand, rock/dirt, and snow for increased safety and capability. Electronic control for the all-wheel drive system can vary torque between the front and rear wheels automatically to provide the best balance between poor-weather traction and fuel economy. The Hybrid Max version goes even further by solely utilizing electric motors for the rear axle, making it even more responsive and stable.

Toyota Grand Highlander front exterior view

Toyota Grand Highlander: Safety Built In

All 2024 Grand Highlander models come with a full suite of safety systems to keep families safe. The latest generation of Toyota Safety Sense, TSS 3.0, includes:

  • Pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, which can detect vehicles or pedestrians, warning the driver audio-visually, and even applying the brakes when necessary. New sensors make the system even better for the new 2024 Grand Highlander, which can now detect motorcycles.
  • Lane departure alert with steering assist can detect lane markings and road boundaries at speed, and provides an audible and visual warning when the driver strays from the lane. The system can also gently steer back into the lane.
  • Adaptive cruise control can be set at speed above 20 mph, and maintains a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. It has been enhanced with even better vehicle detection features, and can now sense vehicles in adjacent lanes to provide smoother and more natural speed control. A lane tracing assist feature detects lines on the road and can keep the vehicle centered in the lane when the cruise control is engaged.
  • Traffic jam assist on Platinum-grade models uses radar and cameras on limited-access roads to operate the steering, gas, and brake pedals hands-free below 25 mph.

New for the 2024 Grand Highlander is a new proactive driving assist system. Under certain conditions, the proactive driving assist can use the vehicle’s cameras and radar to provide gentle braking into curves and automatic steering to make driving easier and safer. There is also a new emergency driving stop function which detects when the driver is inattentive or non-responsive, and can bring the vehicle to a safe stop if the driver doesn’t respond to alerts to take control.

Spacious, Thoughtfully-Designed Interior

Of course, the biggest selling feature of the Grand Highlander is its huge, spacious cabin. The front and rear doors open wide, giving exceptional access to three rows of seats, and the large windows provide a great view out for all occupants, while providing the driver with increased confidence maneuvering in the city.

The Grand Highlander’s third row of seats is substantially larger than the optional third row of the conventional Highlander, and has enough space for full-size adults; the second row has also been expanded, and offers the choice of captain’s chairs or a three-person bench. The cargo area is huge; Toyota claims that it can easily hold seven carry-on suitcases when the third row of seats is up. Fold the second and third row of seats down, and there’s a whopping 97.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

We really like the design of the Grand Highlander’s interior, which combines luxury with ruggedness and ease of use. Up front, the instrument panel is soft-padded, and there’s a nice functional tray integrated between the two levels of the dashboard. The huge center console has separate armrests for both the driver and front passengers, giving them independent access to storage areas. Second-row riders have their own air conditioning control panel, individual USB ports, cupholders, smartphone storage slots, and storage areas in the doors. Third-row passengers also get smartphone and tablet storage, cupholders, and two USB ports.

close up of 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander interior technology

2024 Grand Highlander: Technology

In the past, Toyota has lagged behind the industry with its infotainment features, but the Grand Highlander features an all-new generation of in-car features that are right up to date, and focused on a large central touchscreen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are standard, along with Bluetooth connectivity for your phone; there is also an available wi-fi hotspot that supports up to five devices. Audio choices include HD Radio, USB, and SiriusXM satellite radio, along with integrated Apple Music and Amazon Music streaming, if you have a subscription. Audiophiles will love the available JBL premium audio system that has 11 speakers, with stunning clarity and power.

There is also a suite of useful connected services available in the Grand Highlander. An SOS button connects drivers to emergency assistance or enhanced 24/7 roadside assistance. The same function is automatically triggered when the vehicle senses it has been in a collision. Additional functions include a stolen vehicle locator, automated vehicle health reports, maintenance alerts, and more, which allow you to easily stay on top of the Grand Highlander’s service and maintenance needs.

The Toyota App also offers Grand Highlander owners numerous remote features. Drivers can activate the headlights, lock or unlock the vehicle’s doors, remotely start the vehicle, or check its status, including receiving reminder notifications. The driver’s smartphone can also function as the vehicle’s key.

Other available convenience features include a heated steering wheel, power-folding mirrors, heated and ventilated front and second-row seats, a hands-free power liftgate, and high-power, 1,500-watt power outlets on some hybrid models.

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander back exterior view

Toyota Grand Highlander: Pricing and Availability

Built in Princeton, Indiana, the Toyota Grand Highlander has a starting TSRP of $43,070 for a gasoline-powered front-wheel drive model. The Grand Highlander Hybrid has a starting TSRP of $44,670, while the all-wheel drive Hybrid Max version has a starting TSRP of $54,070.

Three trim levels are offered for each of the available powertrains: base (XLE on the gasoline Grand Highlander), Limited, and Platinum. Adding to the substantial list of standard equipment, Limited models add 20-inch alloy wheels, power-folding mirrors, and LED lighting outside; leather, heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, and ambient lighting on the inside, as well as a larger touchscreen premium audio, hands-free power liftgate, and power assist with automatic braking. Platinum models add a panoramic moonroof, paddle shifters, heads-up display, panoramic view monitor, digital rear-view mirror, and traffic jam assist.