Just before the end of the year, on December 28 to be precise, Toyota filed to trademark the Grand Highlander name. Any time an automaker makes such a move, it gives folks like us permission to speculate on what the company’s plans are for the name. The most obvious question is, Might there be a new model joining the Toyota lineup in the near-future?
Beyond that, we can speculate on the form a Grand Highlander would take, and what segment it could compete in. The current Highlander model sits in the midsize SUV category, and while it does offer seating for seven, compared to other models in the segment the third row of seats is pretty restricted. The Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Volkswagen Atlas and Chevrolet Traverse, notably, offer more breathing room to those sitting in back.
A Grand Highlander that constitutes a stretched version of the Highlander would sit in the Toyota lineup between the latter and the giant Sequoia.
Again, this is just speculation – Toyota has not confirmed any such model is on the way. But according to Car & Driver magazine, a Grand Highlander could be born along with the mid-cycle revision of the Highlander, which is due roughly in 2023-24 (the model’s current generation debuted last year, recall).
A future Grand Highlander could reasonably be expected to inherit the Highlander’s 3.5L V6 engine. Other variants could also eventually join the fray, for instance hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, though that’s really reading a lot into the lea leaves we have in front of us.
Again, all of this is speculation growing out of the trademark filing. But that filing was not done for the pure fun of it by Toyota, we say...