Toyota already dabbled in long-wheelbase versions of its crossovers.
There’s a certain company out there — not to name-drop anyone (Jeep) — who brought one ideology to the core of its crossover ambitions. Want a bigger SUV? Take a name you already use and put “Grand” in front of it. That signals a certain level of scale and poshness. Think about the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the forthcoming Grand Wagoneer, and now…the Toyota Highlander?
Yes, according to a new trademark filing discovered by the folks over at GR86 forums, the Toyota “Grand Highlander” could be a reality. According to the document filed December 28, 2020, the name is meant for “automobiles and structural parts thereof”, per the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is an early trademark filing, and in its current status the document is no more specific than that. However, given what we already know about the state of Toyota’s SUV lineup, this could mean one of a few scenarios in the coming years.
First, Toyota (or more specifically, Lexus) already dabbles in more commodious versions of its existing models. The Lexus RX has an “L” version, offering slightly more space to those seeking a three-row crossover. The Toyota Highlander already is a three-row crossover, and currently the best seller in its class. That said, the back seat is cramped, as Nathan shows in the video below.
Bringing a Grand Highlander to the mix might stretch the wheelbase a bit, offering better third-row legroom and, when those seats are folded, better cargo capacity.
Could a Toyota Grand Highlander replace another SUV?
An interesting commenter on that post has another theory (and I do want to stress that this is a theory at this point). That is, Toyota could replace the aging, truck-based Sequoia SUV with a more accommodating Highlander. With its blocky design, thirsty V8 and relatively high price tag, let’s face it: The big bruiser does desperately need an update.
If Toyota were to ax the Sequoia — again, big “if” at this point — the company could feasibly expand manufacturing to build a bigger Highlander. The automaker manufactures the Sequoia, Highlander, and Highlander Hybrid at its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant. Toyota’s 3.5-liter V6 engine is also a much more efficient (if not quite as powerful) engine than the old warhorse’s 5.7-liter V8.
On the other hand, a small yet devoted base actually wants a truck-based SUV, and as far as we know Toyota is planning another generation for the Sequoia. Toyota will likely build that SUV alongside the new Tundra in Texas, as the automaker shifts all Tacoma production to Mexico. With that capacity freed up, Toyota could have its cake and eat it by introducing a “Grand Highlander” without killing the Sequoia.
What do you think?
Would you consider a larger Toyota Grand Highlander, if the trademark actually translates to a production model? Would you take a Sequoia (or something else entirely) instead?