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Hot Wheels: Toyota to replace aging Highlander SUV

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm •  Published: March 27, 2013
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INSIDE: Buyers can configure the second-row seats as a three-passenger bench or two captain's chairs. The bench boosts the seating capacity of the new Highlander to eight from seven. Toyota says it went to great lengths to cut vibrations and engine and wind noise by adding insulation in the floor and sound-deadening glass in the windshield. The interior gets softer materials instead of hard plastic as well as silver, satin and chrome-plated accents. The second row of seats also slides more to give people three more inches of room to get back to the third row.

UNDER THE HOOD: The engines remain the same, starting with a 2.7-liter, 187 horsepower, four-cylinder motor teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. There's also a 3.5-liter, 270 horsepower V-6 with a transmission that gets upgraded from a five-speed automatic to six speeds. There's also a V-6 gas-electric hybrid version.

FUEL ECONOMY: Not released yet. Current four-cylinder models get an estimated 20 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway, while the six-cylinder models get 18 in the city and 24 on the highway. Hybrids get 28 in the city and on the freeway.

PRICE: Not released. The Highlander now starts at just over $29,000.

CHEERS: The new version brings the Highlander up to date and makes it more competitive with the Ford and Jeep.

JEERS: Since the engines don't change, don't expect a dramatic increase in fuel economy.