Toyota issued a press release last week detailing what the forthcoming 2016 Toyota Highlander will have to offer. Apparently, very little will be changing between model years 2015 and 2016.
The most substantive change will be the addition of the “tow package” to all 6-cylinder models, rather than limiting it to the XLE and above. So buyers of the 6-cylinder LE or the LE Plus will now get the following:
- heavy-duty radiator with engine oil cooler
- 200-watt fan coupling
- supplemental transmission oil cooler
- 150-amp alternator
These enhancements increase the towing capacity to 5,000 lbs from the previous limit of 1,500 lbs.
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The other minor change is the addition of rain-sensing windshield wipers to the Limited Platinum trim level. Other than that, everything appears be the same, though there could be updates related to things like paint colors, wheel finishes, etc.
As for release dates, I had previously predicted “August-ish” and was obviously wrong about that. The rumor mill is now calling for a “late fall” release of the 2016 Highlander.
I can’t say that I’m particularly surprised about the lack of major updates in 2016. This will be the third year (out of an expected six years) for the current generation. Toyota, like most automakers, typically does a mid-generation “refresh,” which typically hits between years 3 and 4, so it’s still too early.
Given the above, I would expect next year (the 2017 model year) to bring some bigger updates and changes, though the overall body style will like remain the same through 2019, with the 4th generation Highlander rolling out in 2020.