By David Undercoffler
6:15 AM PDT, March 27, 2013
Though there were several media preview events earlier this week, Toyota officially kicked off the first of two media days at the 2013 New York International Auto Show on Wednesday morning by introducing the all-new Highlander crossover SUV.
Well, mostly new.
Though the Highlander wears handsome new sheet metal and grows in size noticeably, the heart of the crossover remains largely unchanged.
PHOTOS: Toyota's 2014 Highlander
That means the 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine will be standard and come with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive only. Toyota didn’t release specifics on engine output, but don’t expect much of a change from the current engine’s 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque.
The Highlander’s optional 3.5-liter V-6 also carries over, but gets a six-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous five-speed gearbox. Power will likely be similar to the current V-6 engine’s 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque. This engine will come in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations, and will be able to tow up to 5,000 pounds.
Finally, a hybrid model will also carry over. It will pair a 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor, a continuously variable transmission, and all-wheel-drive.
These mostly-unchanged drivetrains will sit in a new, larger vehicle. The 2014 Highlander is about 3 inches longer than the previous model, and this newfound size more closely aligns the Highlander with other multi-passenger SUVs and crossovers like the Nissan Pathfinder, Dodge Durango and Mazda CX-9.
This new Toyota will seat seven or eight people, a change from the previous Highlander’s six or seven passenger layout. The automaker also says the cargo area behind the third row of seats is up to 34 percent larger than before.
The interior also benefits from eight standard airbags and a standard 6.1-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and voice control.
If all this sounds like your cup of seven or eight passenger tea, you’ll need to wait a bit. Despite debuting to the world in New York on Wednesday, Toyota said the 2014 Highlander won’t reach dealerships until early 2014.
Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date, but don’t expect it to be significantly higher than the current model’s roughly $30,000 base price.
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