Toyota Highlander goes third-gen

Toyota, from the floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show, has unveiled the third generation of itsHighlander Hybrid. It has bumped up in starting price for the 2014 model from the previous year significantly, reflecting what seems to be the new design and technology touches going into this latest iteration.

Whereas the 2013 MSRP for a basic Highlander Hybrid was $40,170, the 2014 edition drops in at a hefty $47,300. This new value is, in fact, outlined as being for the “Limited” trim, which last year was priced at $46,370. A more expensive “Limited Platinum” offering slides in as well at $49,790.

image via Toyota

So, one has to ask, what do you get for a $7,000+ jump in price? A new exterior design, for one thing.As Toyota puts it the vehicle now “features a progressive silhouette, flush-mounted roof rails for improved aerodynamics, and sculptured side-door panels.  The exterior has grown in length by approximately three inches while width is increased one-half inch, conveying a sleek and strong appearance.”

The interior, meanwhile, has increased “spaciousness for seven people, and numerous standard comfort, convenience and technology features.” These features include a newly designed 4.2-inch color LCD information display; perforated leather-trim seats in the first two rows and a panoramic moonroof.

Fuel economy numbers, in comparison to last year, haven’t really improved. One gets 27/28/28 city/highway/combined miles per gallon ratings from a hybrid drivetrain consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine coupled with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator that all total delivers 280 horsepower.

For those curious about the new “Platinum” package, it will offer some driver technology enhancements which include a subscription based safety service, pre-collision system and lane departure warnings with automatic high beam headlights. Both this and the more basic offering will hit Toyota showrooms starting this coming February after being manufactured at Toyota’s upgraded Indiana plant.

* Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling