Expert Reviews

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
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It’s easy to tell where consumer tastes lie these days.

The fight for SUV supremacy is hotter than ever as automakers attempt to win consumers over with their offerings. Plenty of resources are being poured into making them astonishingly refined, luxurious, and well equipped for the task of family transportation, and it seems like there are new contenders around every corner.

After pitting Honda’s redesigned Pilot against the award-winning Kia Telluride, a head-to-head in which the former emerged victorious, it looked like there was a new favourite in the three-row segment. Fast forward a few short months and the Pilot might well be swept aside by the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander – an SUV that offers more space (and style) than its namesake.

Styling: 7.5/10

There are only so many ways designers can massage the silhouette of an oversized sport utility, so if the Grand Highlander’s profile looks a bit derivative, well, that’s just reality. Even so, it’s a successful design that looks purposeful without being disproportionate. Yes, it’s tall and boxy, but it’s not ungainly.

It’s also unmistakably a Toyota up front, with the oversized grille treatment being particularly familiar. It very much looks like a mash-up of the smaller RAV4 and the large-and-in-charge Sequoia, which is appropriate since that’s also where the Grand Highlander fits in the lineup.

The interior is styled similarly to most contemporary Toyotas, which translates to sensibly so. There’s very little that’s flamboyant or artful about the interior (in contrast to, say, the all-new Mazda CX-90), but it’s impeccably assembled with a dash-top infotainment screen residing above traditional climate controls, and a centre console with a proper gear selector and big cup holders.

User-Friendliness: 10/10

Climbing into the cabin is easy enough, with the ride height being neither too high nor too low, plus the doors open plenty wide. Once inside, the sightlines are quite good, with the A-pillars being notably thin compared to some SUVs out there.

But it’s the wealth of little details that Toyota’s designers and engineers have sweated over that will make this a machine that’s very easy to get used to and to live with. Auto up/down window switches all around, proximity sensors on all four doors, and a centralized close and lock button on the power tailgate are but a few of the highlights.

Of the few nits to pick, phones will easily slide off the wireless charging pad, while it’s a bit tedious that there’s a separate button inside the cabin to release the fuel filler door. Alas, not every vehicle can be perfect.

Features: 9/10

There are seven USB-C ports inside the Grand Highlander. But beyond how many there are is their strategic placement throughout the cabin to be of the most use to occupants. For instance, directly ahead of the front passenger seat is a tidy shelf that’s wide enough to hold a modern smartphone, and at the right side of that shelf is a USB port. Equally clever is the console that sits between the two second-row (heated) seats in this Limited trim, with enormous cup holders and two rubberized slots to safely hold a tablet.

Up front, the power leather seats aren’t just heated but ventilated. The driver faces a configurable 12.3-inch instrument display, while the primary infotainment screen spans the same area and is bright and crisp – compliments that wouldn’t be given to some of this SUV’s predecessors. There’s cloud-based navigation that requires a paid subscription, but also wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections to run Google (or Apple) Maps or Waze.

Safety: 9/10

The extensive feature count carries over on the safety front, too. There are parking sensors, a surround-view, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, plus automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. The forward collision warning system can spot pedestrians and cyclists, and keep an eye out for oncoming traffic when turning left.

Separate from the pre-collision system that works with the adaptive cruise is the a “Proactive Driving Assist” that utilizes the forward-facing camera and radar to provide subtle braking and steering assistance to maintain safe speeds heading into curves or to help keep a safe distance from preceding traffic. The braking was fairly obtrusive during testing, often feeling like the aggressive regenerative braking of a hybrid or electric vehicle (EV). The same issue was noticed in the all-new Toyota Crown, too.

Comfort: 9/10

The well-shaped seats are the basis for a comfortable cabin, but the Grand Highlander’s ride also contributes to its luxurious feel. It’s a smooth operator, and especially when cruising at highway speeds, it absorbs all but the nastiest of bumps. Wind and road noise are very well hushed, with only the gruffness of the four-cylinder engine making its way inside when goaded with heavy throttle input.

Practicality: 9/10

The slightly smaller Highlander is a decent enough machine, but its rearmost seats and modest cargo space have long been its biggest sore spots. That’s where the Grand Highlander really shines, with a wheelbase that’s 100 mm (3.9 in) longer and an overall length that’s 164 mm (6.5 in) more generous. Both passenger and luggage room swell as a result, with enough of both to compete with the best in the segment.

While the Limited trim tested here features a pair of second-row captain’s chairs, the XLE trim’s second row bench allows the Grand Highlander to shuttle around as many as eight occupants. Like the Highlander, the Grand Highlander tops out at towing 2,268 kg (5,000 lb), which is competitive within the segment.

Power: 7.5/10

The non-hybrid Grand Highlander tested here was powered by Toyota’s increasingly familiar 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It has ample torque (310 lb-ft) that peaks at a very low 1,700 rpm to give it enough oomph to zip around town with plenty of pep. Amazingly, despite being bigger in every dimension, the Grand Highlander is only 50 kg (110 lb) heavier than its smaller sibling, which means when it comes to accelerating to highway speeds or passing slower traffic, the big Toyota manages just fine.

Those wanting a lot more gusto can opt for the so-called Hybrid Max versions that bump that torque to 400 lb-ft. Meanwhile, those seeking a more efficient ride will want to opt for the conventional hybrid.

Fuel Economy: 7.5/10

Although the government hadn’t yet published official fuel consumption figures as of this writing, an indicated average of 9.8 L/100 km during this test is right where Toyota’s claims suggest it should be. The Hybrid Max is expected to shave at least 1.0 L/100 km from that figure, and the conventional hybrid should be around the 7.0 mark.

Driving Feel: 7.5/10

The Grand Highlander’s steering is quick and precise (if numb in feel) for such a large vehicle. Body roll is well managed considering how comfortable its ride is, suggesting its suspension engineers deserve some praise for the tuning. Even the turning circle is manageable in suburban parking lots. No complaints about the Grand Highlander’s brakes, either, with good bite and progressive pedal feel even under panic stop scenarios.

Value: 7/10

The 2024 Grand Highlander Limited is well-equipped and smartly laid out for family-hauling duties, and feels like a good value at its $57,690 suggested retail price. Meanwhile, the XLE represents the entry point to the Grand Highlander lineup and starts at a little more than $50,000.

Still, Toyota faces very strong competition in this segment with the similarly-equipped Honda Pilot EX-L and Kia Telluride SX squeaking in just below the Grand Highlander Limited, but each offering smoother V6 engines. There’s also the new Mazda CX-90 that relies on a powerful inline six-cylinder and carries a price tag that’s cheaper than this Toyota’s.

The Verdict

Buyers in the three-row segment face the daunting task of choosing the right vehicle for their needs. The 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander represents a pragmatic choice with a wonderfully user-friendly cabin, comfortable ride, and good equipment levels for the price. It’s well-rounded enough to make it a solid choice within the segment, and one that warrants a shopper’s careful consideration.

Engine Displacement 2.4L
Engine Cylinders Turbo I4
Peak Horsepower 265 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Peak Torque 310 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
Fuel Economy 11.2 / 8.6 / 10.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 583 / 1,640 / 2,761 L behind 3rd/2nd/1st row
Model Tested 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Limited AWD
Base Price $57,690
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,930
Price as Tested $59,975
Optional Equipment
$255 – Ruby Flare Pearl paint, $255