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2014 Toyota Highlander: Toyota’s redesigned hybrid SUV to debut in New York

2013 Toyota Highlander front three quarterThe Toyota Highlander is one of a handful of hybrid SUVs currently on the market, and after seven years a new one is on the way. Toyota will unveil a completely redesigned version of this midsize crossover at the 2013 New York Auto Show at the end of the month.

Toyota is naturally keeping the details quiet until the Highlander’s debut, but like the recently redesigned RAV4, the styling is expected to be more car-like. The next Highlander may look less like a 1980s 4Runner and more like the oversized Camry wagon it truly is.

As with the current and first generation models, the 2014 Highlander will ride on a modified version of the Camry’s platform. That means this crossover won’t be the most exciting thing to drive, but it will still be able to accommodate Toyota’s hybrid powertrain.

The Highlander, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Ford Escape are the only mainstream hybrid SUVs currently available; the rest are luxury models. The Highlander is in a sweet spot between the large Tahoe and the compact Escape.

The 2014 Highlander hybrid is expected to use the same 3.5-liter V6, dual electric motors, and nickel-metal-hydride battery pack as the current car. Total system output is currently 280 horsepower, while fuel economy is 28 mpg in all three EPA categories.

We’ll have to wait for the Highlander’s New York debut to see if those numbers improve. Maybe that less-boxy shape will help with aerodynamics.

The Toyota Highlander was never a vehicle that set the world on fire, but the hybrid option could still be useful for buyers looking to go green, but who still need to move people and things on a regular basis.