The 2021 Toyota Highlander has made its official launch debut in Europe, with the seven-seat SUV being offered exclusively by a full hybrid powertrain in the region. The fourth-generation model first broke cover during the 2019 New York International Auto Show and rides on the TNGA-K platform, which is also used by the latest Camry, Harrier, Sienna and RAV4.

Said powertrain that includes a A25A-FXS 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that is rated at 190 PS (187 hp) at 6,000 rpm and 239 Nm of torque from 4,300 to 4,500 rpm. The Dynamic Force mill is paired with an e-CVT and an electric motor with 182 PS (180 hp or 134 kW) and 270 Nm for a total system output of 248 PS (244 hp).

As part of the Highlander Hybrid’s AWD-i (All-Wheel Drive-intelligent) system, there’s no driveshaft linking the front and rear axles – this setup is also used by the RAV4 Hybrid. Instead, a rear electric motor operates independently, providing 121 Nm when needed, like during acceleration and in slippery road conditions.

Both motors draw power from a 6.5 Ah nickel-metal hydride battery and can bring the XU70 Highlander up to speeds of 125 km/h on electricity alone, after which the 2.5 litre engine takes over up to 180 km/h; the zero to 100 km/h time is 8.3 seconds. Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption of as low as 6.6 l/100 km (15.15 km/l) following the WLTP, along with CO2 emissions of 149 g/km.

That’s pretty decent considering the SUV has a kerb weight of between 2,015 and 2,130 kg, with a length of 4,966 mm, width of 1,930 mm, height of 1,755 mm and wheelbase spanning 2,850 mm. The large footprint comes with plenty of practicality, including a second row bench that has 180 mm of sliding range, 332 litres of boot space with the seats in their default positions, 27 litres of underfloor storage and 1,909 litres with all seats folded down.

In terms of equipment, keyless entry, LED headlamps, three-zone air-conditioning, heated seats and a wireless phone charger are standard. Other items include 18- or 20-inch wheels, a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster display, an eight- or 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, a blind spot monitor, a powered tailgate, blue ambient lighting, leather upholstery, powered seats, a 10.1-inch head-up display, an 11-speaker JBL sound system, panoramic sunroof and Toyota Safety Sense.

On the last item, the suite includes Pre-Collision System (PCS) with day and night pedestrian detection and daytime bicyclist detection, Full Range Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Road Sign Assist (RSA).