The competition for three-row crossover customers remains fierce, and it’s only going to get hotter. Along with new entries like the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Ford Explorer, the 2020 Toyota Highlander is making a case following its debut at the 2019 New York Auto Show.

Here’s how the updated Toyota stacks up to its newest rivals.

Gallery: 2020 Toyota Highlander


Despite the carryover nature of its gas-only powertrain – this is just last year’s 3.5-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission – the Highlander acquits itself well. Among the newest competition from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Ford, the Highlander is roughly equal on output, towing capacity, and tow rating.

  2020 Toyota Highlander 2020 Kia Telluride 2019 Honda Pilot 2020 Ford Explorer
Base Engine 3.5-liter V6 3.8-liter V6 3.5-liter V6 Turbocharged 2.3-liter I4
Output 295 hp / 263 lb-ft 291 hp / 262 lb-ft 280 hp / 262 lb-ft 300 hp / 310 lb-ft (est)
Transmission 8-Speed Auto 8-Speed Auto 9-Speed Auto 10-Speed Auto
Towing Capacity 5,000 Pounds 5,000 Pounds (est) 5,000 Pounds 5,300 Pounds
Fuel Economy 22 MPG Combined 21 MPG Combined (est) 22 MPG Combined T.B.D.
Hybrid Available Yes No No Yes


But where Toyota distinguishes itself is with its active safety technology, adding the entire Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite to every Highlander as standard equipment. Engineers enhanced last year’s setup, which featured lane departure warning with steering assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and automatic high-beam headlights, by adding traffic sign recognition and lane keeping assist. That should make roadtripping in this new Toyota less stressful on Mom and Dad.

Most of the competition offers a similar level of active safety gear, although they aren’t necessarily available as standard on every trim.

  2020 Toyota Highlander 2020 Kia Telluride 2019 Honda Pilot 2020 Ford Explorer
Automatic Emergency Braking Standard Standard Standard Standard
Pedestrian Detection Standard Standard Standard Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control Standard Standard Standard Available
Blind-Spot Monitoring Standard Standard Available Standard
Lane Departure Warning Standard Standard Standard Standard
Lane Keeping Assist Standard Standard Standard Standard
Automatic High Beams Standard Standard Standard Standard
Rear Seat Reminder N/A Standard N/A N/A


The headlining tech feature on the 2020 Toyota Highlander is unquestionably its new 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Boasting Toyota’s Entune infotainment operating system and paired to a 1,200-watt JBL audio system, the new setup has the goods on paper.

What it also has are redundant, physical buttons, for quick switching between screens. There are also physical knobs for both the volume and tuning.

  2020 Toyota Highlander 2020 Kia Telluride 2019 Honda Pilot 2020 Ford Explorer
Maximum Infotainment Size 12.3 inches 10.3 inches 8.0 inches 10.1 inches
All-Digital Instrument Cluster N/A N/A N/A Available
Top Audio System 11-Speaker JBL 10-speaker Harman Kardon 10-speaker, unbranded 14-speaker B&O
Physical Controls Yes, volume and tune* Yes, volume and tune* Yes, volume* Yes, volume and tune*
Wireless Charging Available Available Available Available
WiFi Hotspot N/A N/A N/A Available
# of USB Ports T.B.D. 6 3 4
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