If you need some empirical evidence that petroleum-fueled vehicles aren’t ready for the ash heap of automotive history just yet, consider this: The Toyota Highlander has been a sales leader in the midsize SUV segment for six years now, mostly with hydrocarbon horsepower, even though hybrid variants of the Highlander are also offered with both two- and four-wheel drive. This is a big country and, like the metaphor of doing a U-turn in a washbasin with an aircraft carrier, gasoline-fueled vehicles are not going to simply disappear anytime soon. To that end, Toyota has amped the 2023 version of the Highlander with a new four-cylinder engine option that’s both highly efficient and highly turbocharged.
At its heart, the Highlander will now boast a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine that employs dual balance shafts for internal smoothness. It’s rated at 265 horsepower, plus an eye-opening 310-lbs.ft. of torque, a genuinely impressive measure of oomph from an engine of this size, normally aspirated or not. It represents a 17 percent improvement in output over the previous 3.5-liter V-6 that the turbo engine replaces in the Highlander. Despite that, combined fuel economy is EPA-certified at 24 MPG. Naturally, for those who prefer them, the hybrid Highlanders will continue.