Customers in the market for a Toyota Highlander this summer have an interesting choice: Cash in on attractive end-of-cycle discounts on 2019 models or wait for the all-new 2020 fourth-generation Highlander scheduled to drop in December.
The 2020 Highlander will be built on a new platform. It will feature updated safety-tech and telematics features and a bold new body style. Meanwhile, the remaining 2019s represent one of Toyota's most popular models ever and a tried-and-true design that debuted in 2014.
* Model: 2019 Toyota Highlander
* Exterior color: Blizzard Pearl
* Interior color: Graphite
* Engine: 3.5-liter, V-6
* Horsepower: 290
* Transmission: eight-speed automatic
* Fuel economy: 26 mpg highway, 20 mpg city
* Local Dealer: Capital Toyota, Toyota of Cleveland, North Georgia Toyota
* Price (as tested): $44,194
As the year winds down, expect dealerships to offer attractive prices on 2019 Highlanders, which are rarely deeply discounted. Even now, we were able to locate 2019 Highlanders in the area advertised at more than 10 percent off MSRP, including dealer discounts and manufacturers rebates.
Even mid-trim models, like our Blizzard Pearl XLE tester, has near Lexus-level features and room for seven or eight passengers (depending on whether you choose a second-row bench or captain's chairs). The third row is tight though and really only suitable for pre-adolescent children.
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Still, the Highlander is one of the most popular three-row, mid-size SUVs on the market. It competes in the same segment as the Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-9. The Highlander prioritizes comfort, durability and practicality, the trifecta of family-SUV virtues.
Late this week all local dealerships — Capital Toyota, Toyota of Cleveland and North Georgia Toyota — had several dozen 2019 Highlanders in stock ranging in price from about $35,000 to almost $50,000 before discounts.
WHAT IS IT?
The 2019 Toyota Highlander is one of America's most popular mid-size SUVs. Most Highlanders come equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 290 horsepower. All-wheel-drive is optional on most trim levels.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Our tester and XLE model with leather interior and all-wheel drive rings up at $44,194 before discounts. In real life, expect to pay about $5,000 less.
WHAT WE LIKED:
Our list of "likes" includes ultra-comfortable front seats, superb build quality, luminescent metallic paint, strong and smooth V-6, absorbent suspension and 5,000-pound towing capacity.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT:
The $1,810 BluRay DVD system in our tester strikes us as a extravagance whose time has passed. For that money you could buy a tablet computer for everyone onboard and create your own movie multiplex.
The Highlander offers a plush ride and ample acceleration. The all-wheel-drive system has a special snow mode for wintry weather. The power front seats on our tester have a seat bottom extension that reduces fatigue on long trips.
Among the standard features on our XLE tester are 18-inch alloy wheels, radar cruise control, blind-spot monitor, second-row side-window sunshades, SiriusXM radio, three-zone climate control, 12 cup holders and seating for eight.
Whether you jump at a discounted 2019 Highlander or wait for the spanking new 2020 model you'll get a vehicle that has become the gold standard for family transportation.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.