Will there be a new Toyota Highlander Prime offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain to give us more power and electric driving range?
Toyota has been the world leader in hybrid technology, offering regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid models of several nameplates. One of the most popular is the RAV4 Prime, which is a compact plug-in hybrid SUV that offers good electric driving range, more power than the hybrid variant, and excellent fuel mileage.
Currently, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is one of the most popular hybrid SUVs in the midsize crossover lineup, making a PHEV version the next logical step.
What makes the most sense for this Toyota SUV?
The hybrid Highlander sacrifices some power for fuel mileage, bringing 254 horsepower and 35 mpg. Although this Highlander is popular for its fuel mileage, it could use more power and a PHEV model could enable it to bring more power to the mix.
If the Highlander takes a page out of the RAV4 book, the power could increase to 302 horsepower and the fuel mileage could achieve as much as 38 mpg. Even if the fuel efficiency continues to only reach 35 mpg combined, with power over 300 horsepower, we’ll have a plug-in hybrid SUV that’s much more capable than it is now.
When should a PHEV Highlander arrive?
The 2024 Toyota and Lexus lineups add a pair of three-row midsize SUVs that offer more space than current versions. The Toyota Grand Highlander and Lexus TX enter the market for this new model year, giving consumers more for their driving pleasure. That said, the Highlander generation isn’t due for an upgrade for at least two more years.
We might not see a Toyota Highlander Prime until at least 2026, but it could be passed over by then. It might behoove Toyota to jump on the scarcity of midsize PHEV SUVs in the current market by adding a plug-in hybrid powertrain to this SUV for 2024 or 2025 at the latest.
Plugging in returns the power
Before Toyota switched to a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine as the basis for the hybrid Highlander, this SUV utilized a 3.5-liter V6 engine. This change took power from 308 horsepower to 256, losing more than 50 horsepower in the name of fuel mileage. Adding a PHEV system to the mix could return the horsepower lost and maintain use of the smaller, 4-cylinder engine as the foundation of the hybrid system.
How much electric driving range is expected?
Although we can’t accurately quote electric-only driving range for a vehicle that doesn’t yet exist, we estimate a Toyota Highlander Prime could offer up to 35 miles of electric driving. This is based on using the current hybrid system and comparing it to the Toyota RAV4 Prime, which offered 42 miles of driving range on a single charge. If the Highlander Prime can offer 35 miles, most drivers will be pretty happy with that and know that it has plenty of power to get the job done while returning good fuel mileage results.
If the Highlander is a PHEV, will the Grand Highlander be as well?
Its fair to assume a plug-in Highlander could lead to similar power and performance figures could become part of the new Toyota Grand Highlander. This larger SUV might quickly become the largest plug-in hybrid SUV in the entire market. Of course, Toyota could add the plug-in hybrid powertrain to the Lexus TX first, considering the expected price bump of a PHEV system, which might make much more sense in the short term.
Is the PHEV Highlander a likely addition?
Toyota isn’t shy about entering new markets and doing things differently, especially in areas where Toyota excels. There’s no denying the Prius is the poster child of hybrid driving, and most Toyota models have at least one hybrid powertrain. Although a plug-in hybrid Highlander would be pretty cool, it’s not likely the next step for Toyota. It might show up as part of the next generation for the Highlander, but Toyota might be closer to an EV model than a PHEV model by that time.
Will the Highlander continue with the new Grand Highlander entering the market?
Another concern regarding the Highlander name is whether or not this name will remain part of the Toyota lineup. With the new Grand Highlander launching for the 2024 model year, we should probably be more concerned with whether or not the traditional Highlander will continue and not if a Toyota Highlander Prime will be a reality. Still, a plug-in hybrid Highlander could be a groundbreaking addition to the Toyota SUV lineup.
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