NEW YORK — Toyota unveiled a redesigned version of its Highlander SUV on Wednesday as competition heats up for three-row family vehicles.
The 2020 Highlander is making its debut at the New York Auto Show. The gas engine model will be available for sale in December and the hybrid version will hit dealerships in February.
Toyota did not release pricing for the redesigned Highlander, but the 2019 model ranges from $31,330 to $47,010, according to car-buying advice site Edmunds.
With millions of consumers transitioning from passenger cars to SUVs and pickups, the Highlander has become an increasingly essential part of the Toyota lineup.
“We’re going to sell a whole bunch of these babies,” Toyota general manager Jack Hollis said.
But with the Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Subaru Ascent and Volkswagen Atlas recently joining the category of three-row SUVs, Toyota will be under pressure to maintain the allegiance of its family-oriented customers. Other category stalwarts include the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse.
IHS Markit auto analysts projected that Toyota’s share of the segment would drop from 11 percent in 2018 to 9 percent in 2023.
First introduced in 2001, the Highlander has mushroomed into one of Toyota’s most important vehicles. In 2018, it outside the Toyota Prius, Avalon, Sienna and Yaris combined.
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The latest redesigned marks the fourth iteration of the the SUV.
The gas model gets a 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder, 295-horsepower stop-start engine and average fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon. The 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder hybrid gets 34 mpg and 240 horsepower using two electric motors.
The Highlander will be sold in five trim levels, including a Platinum version that gets a 12.3-inch touchscreen display.
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Designers aimed for a “chiseled” aura and a “powerful stance,” Toyota said.
The vehicle is available in 7-seat or 8-seat configurations.
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An available package has 5,000-pound towing capacity, trailer sway control and a heavy-duty radiator.
The vehicle is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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