Our initial driving impressions with both the regular-gas Highlander and hybrid included a bit more about what is new, Toyotas engineering, and the 2023 Toyota Highlanders design.
Despite offering fewer trim levels, the new 2023 RAV4 Hybrid includes more quality across the line-up–especially in terms of safety.
The 2023 Toyota Highlander is not the kind of athlete you would find in, say, the Mazda CX-9, and we suspect that even the new Highlander XSE does not move the dial much, but the Highlander does balance comfort with confidence-inspiring ride quality against the rest of its family-hauling peers.
While the midsize Highlander is more efficient than many other midsize SUVs, it does not quite match the RAV4s EPA-rated best-in-class fuel economy.
In fact, the 2023 Toyota Highlander is very similar to the 2023 Honda Pilot, and many buyers are considering those two models as the last two choices for an SUV.
The 2023 Honda Pilot comes with a spectacular 3.5-liter V6 engine, making 285 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. The 2023 Toyota Highlander has a smaller, inline-four, 16-valve engine that makes 265 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Smaller in size and equipped with the four-cylinder, the Toyota RAV4 is more fuel-efficient than the Toyota Highlander.
While both SUVs offer an improved four-wheel-drive system, 2023 Toyota RAV4 is better for use on rugged terrain. The gasoline-powered RAV4 has rated fuel economy up to 30 combined miles per gallon, and the hybrid-powered RAV4 has gas mileage of up to 40 combined miles per gallon.
Depending on the trim, the FWD-equipped Toyota RAV4 models return as high as 28/35 mpg in city/highway, and at its lowest, the AWD-equipped TRD Off Road gets 25/32 mpg.
The estimated 36 mpg is a 13-mpg increase in city driving, and a six-mpg increase in the high-speed driving, over Toyotas Highlander. The 243 hp is not a lot in this segment, but then, no big crossover with three rows comes anywhere near Toyota Highlanders fuel economy for 2023.
Model comparison New 2023 RAV4 Hybrid The 2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid starting MSRP* $30,225 $40,220 Engine 2.5-liter quad-cylinder 2.0-liter quad-cylinder Horsepower 219 243 MPG Estimate* 41/38 36/35 Seating Capacity Up to 5 Up to 8 Front-wheel drive Not Available Available All-Wheel Drive Available Available Standard Available Towing capacity 1,750 pounds.
For comparison, the 2022 RAV4 has five seats and total passenger volume of 98.9 cubic feet. Additionally, the Highlander offers more cargo room, with maximum cargo volume of 84.3 cubic feet. Plus, the Highlander offers more cargo room, with maximum cargo volume of 84.3 cubic feet. One of the only affordable compact SUVs available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain is still the Toyota RAV4 Prime.