Toyota just introduced its redesigned, Highlander (fourth-generation) utility vehicle, but the automaker is wasting no time fleshing out the lineup. A sportier XSE model is about to hitch the family.
It just debuted on the eve of the 2020 Chicago Auto Show’s first media day, and here are a number of its finer points.
Toyota has built the Highlander for about 20 years, but this is often the primary time it’s offered an XSE model.
Differentiating it from mainstream variants may be a new front fascia including a redesigned grille and a lower spoiler.
Altogether, this provides the family-hauler a more planted and aggressive look.
Unique headlight assemblies complete with black accents and strip-like daytime-running lamps round out the vehicle’s front.
Further, accentuating its looks is special rocker-panel trim and machine-faced 20-inch wheels.
The roof rails, mirror caps, and window moldings are all finished in black, and ’round back, the XSE model is fitted with chrome-plated dual-exhaust tips, another first for the Highlander.
Beneath all that styling, this SUV is fitted with stiffer springs and a starchier rear anti-sway bar.
Working in conjunction with these components is returned, lower-friction shock absorbers.
Taking advantage of those suspension changes, the electrically assisted power-assisted steering has been retuned to feel more engaging.
The Highlander XSE is out there with either front-wheel drive or a Dynamic Torque Vectoring all-wheel-drive system.
This setup can send up to 50 percent of obtainable torque to the rear wheels.
From there, it can shuffle it from side to side counting on conditions or driver demands to deliver better handling.
The seats are wrapped in SofTex, a man-made leather, and further fancied up with fabric inserts.
White ambient lighting sets the mood while a carbon-fiberlike finish on the control panel adds a touch of visual texture.
For drivers that want something different, red-and-black leather is obtainable also, complete with red contrast stitching on the dashboard.
This either makes the Highlander look super sporty or sort of bordello.
Ensuring you are always connected, XSE models accompany Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and even Amazon Alexa.
The 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE is slated to travel on sale this fall. The automaker expects it to account for about 12 percent of this nameplate’s overall sales. Pricing has not been released.