There are 11 trim levels available for the upcoming season, and five of them are powered by a hybrid engine. But, there is no setup with the plug-in system. The 2024 Toyota Highlander Prime would be a great addition if the company decides to build it.
The mid-size SUV was the only three-row model with a hybrid engine. When the competition started to catch up with Toyota’s vehicles, the carmaker launched the new edition. The sacrifice of the power leads to stunning gas mileage. Now, the 2024 Toyota Highlander Prime is about to restore that power and to keep the fuel economy at the highest level.
The Prime package is not the only novelty we expect in the lineup. A long-wheelbase version called Grand Highlander is also on the way. It is part of the new lineup, which will also include a premium Lexus TX. However, those two vehicles we are going to review in separate articles.
2024 Toyota Highlander Prime Plug-In Hybrid Specs
The Prime badge is not new to the Toyota lineup. This package is already available with the Rav4 crossover. It is a plug-in hybrid version of the vehicle, making it both powerful and fuel-friendly. The arrival of the 2024 Toyota Highlander Prime is a logical move by the company.
Toyota is a leader in the hybrid segment. As we said, Highlander was the first three-row hybrid SUV. Also, the Rav4 is the first crossover that returned 40 mpg. Now, the new Highlander is available only with a four-cylinder drivetrain, instead of the V6 we used to see. Engineers sacrificed power to gain better gas mileage. So, the SUV returns 254 hp and 35 mpg. However, such a big vehicle needs more power.
That is where the 2024 Toyota Highlander Prime steps in. For the Rav4 crossover, the base hybrid version is producing 200 hp and returns 40 mpg. The PHEV configuration keeps the gas mileage at the highest level – 38 mpg, but additional electric support helps it gain more power, reaching 302 hp. Such outputs would be perfect for the mid-size SUV. Anyway, due to its size and weight, the same configuration is not going to be able to keep the fuel economy so close to the 40 mpg mark. Anyway, 300 ponies and anything close to 35 miles per gallon would blow the competition away.
Is Toyota Going to Make a Highlander Prime?
Many enthusiasts already expected an official statement about the 2024 Toyota Highlander Prime. However, the company is currently developing some other projects, such as Grand Highlander and Lexus TX. Those are not going to spoil the debut of the Highlander PHEV.
This is a logical sequence of events is to make the next level of the hybrid vehicle. That is the plug-in system. We believe that the company will use the Prime nameplate again, although the mid-size SUV could be called different. All in all, the arrival of the PHEV setup is not in doubts. The only question is when it will become official part of Toyota’s future plans.
PHEV vs Hybrid
Previously, the SUV used a 3.5-liter V6 as the base for the hybrid system. The power output jumped from 290 to 308 horsepower and the gas mileage of 30/28 mpg. For a mid-size three-row vehicle, this was impressive. Plus, no other company combined such an engine with such an SUV.
Ford Explorer and Kia Sorento were the first models after Highlander to be hybridized. When experts thought the competition is there, Toyota did the next step, bringing the hybrid system centered around a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It cut off more than 50 hp. But, the gas mileage of the new Highlander hybrid is 35 miles per gallon. Many compact crossovers can’t do that, and there is only a handful of models that can beat this fuel economy.
At the same time, the carmaker also launched the PHEV version of the Rav4. The same 2.5-liter engine was enhanced with electric batteries to boost the power output to 302 hp. The gas mileage remains at a high level for this class. So, if we compare what happened there with the Highlander, the fuel economy should be just a bit worse than with the regular hybrid.
2024 Toyota Highlander Prime Price
Again, comparing the SUV to the crossover, we can make estimations about the price. The Prime version of the Rav4 is a $10,000 upgrade compared to the regular hybrid. So, the Highlander starts off at $36,000 and a hybrid engine costs nearly $4,000 more. The 2024 Toyota Highlander Prime will settle around $50,000 if it brings a similar power output upgrade. Also, there are other factors, such as trim levels and other potential configurations. But, more about the Highlander Prime will be known in 2023, when the company announces the first concepts and declares plans for the future lineup.