2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD Review: A Vehicle for When You Don't Want a Minivan

2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD Review: A Vehicle for When You Don’t Want a Minivan

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When my three kids were young, I bought a minivan.

It was not by choice. I resisted. I fought.

I tried to convince myself that I could comfortably load my family into a cool sedan more suited to my style.

I could not. Therefore, I accepted my fate.

As I signed the paperwork for the minivan purchase, I felt all of my cool points evaporate. No longer would I be the hip, urban dad I once was. Henceforth, I would be something I never expected – a suburban soccer dad. 

Still, I longed for a vehicle that was less minivan-y.

If you’re experiencing this same predicament, I strongly recommend the 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD. It gives you the space and versatility of a minivan without sacrificing your street cred (even if the streets are in the suburbs).

Over the past few years, Toyota has been actively making changes to their vehicle’s designs and marketing to appeal to men. The Tundra is one of the toughest looking trucks on the road. The Sequoia has enough muscle to tow a trailer loaded with the entire Game of Thrones cast. Even the much-maligned minivan has new appeal thanks to the modern style updates.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD not only looks great, but it also performs well on the road.

Exterior and Interior

toyota highlander

The first thing you notice about the 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD is it’s looks. I must admit that I never really paid much attention to previous Highlander models because they blended in with the other small, boxy SUVs. You can’t help but notice the new Highlander. With its angular body design, bold grille, and 20-inch wheels with a “platinum” finish, the Highlander has more than enough swagger to stand out in this crowded segment.

Although Toyota decided to beef-up the Highlander’s exterior, they took a gentler approach with the interior. The Platinum trim offers a new Glazed Caramel leather color and gives the Highlander’s interior a more luxurious ambiance. The seats are comfortable and offer several adjustment options to give you the perfect fit. The soft-touch materials on the dash and doors and wood-grain trim make the Highlander feel more refined than you’d expect from a vehicle at this price point ($49,692 as tested). 

Second-row seating is excellent in the Platinum edition. The standard Captain’s chairs off lots of legroom and wide cushions. I was able to easily fit my family of five in the 2014 Toyota Highlander. The only downside is the third row. While it is spacious enough for children, adults may start to feel cramped after sitting for long distances. 

The Highlander also comes with all of the creature comforts you’d expect such as a premium infotainment center with a 12.3-inch display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Amazon Alexa, a 1,200-watt JBL premium sound system, backup camera, navigation, and a panoramic sunroof.

Performance

2020 toyota highlander interior

The 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD also gets high marks for drivability. The 3.5-liter V6 engine (295 hp, 263 lb-ft of torque) mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission delivers a nice balance of power and fuel-efficiency. If you want to improve the vehicle’s efficiency, you can switch to the fuel-saving Eco mode. The Sport mode gives you some extra kick when you need it.

The AWD on the Platinum edition is a nice upgrade. The vehicle feels more stable and you notice improvements in acceleration and tire grip.

On the road, you will notice that the Highlander’s cabin is rather quiet. The diminished road noise makes it easier to listen to music or enjoy a quiet drive. 

Fuel efficiency is average at an estimated 20 City / 27 Hwy MPG.

Final Thoughts

toyota highlander

During the week I had the vehicle, I ran errands, shuttled kids to their activities, and took my partner on a date. The 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD handled all of the tasks with style and comfort.

If you’re looking for a minivan alternative, the 2020 Toyota Highlander Platinum AWD is the vehicle for you. It is stylish, roomy, versatile, and fun to drive. You’ll even earn back a few of those cool points.

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