After a two-year hiatus thanks to the pandemic, the Canadian International Auto Show is back. We love that it has made a triumphant return, even if it is slightly different- and smaller- than it was in the Before times. Where else can you go to kick tires of the cars you’re shopping for all under one roof?
We media types get excited at the new product reveals that take place this time of year, and so we were jazzed when Toyota invited us out to the historic Steamwhistle Roundhouse in downtown Toronto the day before the show opens to eager consumers and gearheads alike. They were excited to pull the wraps off of the newest member of its SUV family: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like you to meet the 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander.
Lest you think all Toyota did was stretch the wheelbase of the current Highlander and call it a day, there’s more to the Grand Highlander than a simple enlargement. There are various interior and technology upgrades, including Toyota’s latest and vastly improved infotainment system and the ability to use your smartphone as a key. The biggest story is surely the increased roominess that passengers will relish. To see how the size increase measured up, we took a seat in the third row and came away impressed at the generous accommodations back there. Normally, settling in for a long journey out back was akin to a punishment for adult sized humans, but not anymore.
There’s also a new lineup of powertrains. On one end, you have the same 2.5 litre coupled with electric motors currently motivating the similar but smaller Highlander Hybrid. In the middle exists a turbocharged 2.4 litre four cylinder engine that is also borrowed from the regular Highlander. At the top of the heap is a powertrain exclusive to the Grand Highlander which has the Hybrid Max branding we’ve seen on the Tundra and Sequoia models. That one is positioned as the choice for those ‘performance seeking’ customers, as Toyota puts it. We don’t have all the details just yet, but we do know the range topper will make 362 horsepower and 400 pounds feet of torque which should make the Grand Highlander amongst the fleetest in its segment.
Toyota currently sells a whole lot of Highlander models in its familiar guise and having a plus-sized option for larger families or for those who just want as much space as possible, the Grand Highlander will be sure to attract all kinds of attention. Who knows, it may give its smaller stablemate a run for its money once the sales figures start rolling in.
This event wasn’t just about the Grand Highlander’s Canadian debut- Toyota Canada President and CEO Larry Hutchinson delivered a rousing speech on the company’s dedication to selling the most electrified products throughout the industry, and the need to proliferate the technology throughout its entire lineup as a means to stem the tide of climate change and damage to our already fragile planet. “Complex problems do not lend themselves to simple solutions… and climate change is a very complex problem”, he warned. “If a technology can help Canada reduce its overall carbon emissions, shouldn’t it be considered?” The exclamation point on his presentation was this: “We’re not waiting to take further action.”
We’re taking Larry at his word, seeing as how roughly 40% of the vehicles Toyota sells in Canada offer some degree of electrification, a number that will continue to trend upward in the coming years. One point struck a chord with us that tied together Toyota’s climate change strategy with the launch of the Grand Highlander- in Hybrid trim, it returns the same efficiency figures as a 2022 Corolla powered by the 1.8 litre engine. That’s an impactful statistic that clearly shows bigger, family sized vehicles and frugal fuel consumption need not be mutually exclusive concepts.
Head over to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from February 17th to February 26th, 2023. Be sure to check out the latest and greatest machinery from across the industry as well as some attractions for geared towards enthusiasts; there’s even some exhibits that will keep the kids entertained.
We hope to see you there!