The 2023 Toyota Highlander Adds Torque, But It's Still Pricey And Cramped

– Northridge, California

The Toyota Highlander was one of the first three-row crossovers to market, and as one of the segment’s elder statesmen, it’s a popular choice for buyers. This mid-size offering may be shorter and less spacious than the Honda Pilot and Kia Telluride, but luckily, the 2023 model has a new, turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that offers more torque than both its predecessor and some key rivals.

The 265 horsepower underhood may seem like a letdown relative to the 2022 Highlander’s 295, but the turbo makes a healthy 311 pound-feet of torque, a number that the groaning old V6 could only dream of. The new crossover also gets Toyota’s latest infotainment system – another massive upgrade compared to 2022 – with carryover interior quality and driving refinement. But it’s hard to ignore the Highlander’s relatively high price, as well as the scant rear-seat headroom and iffy cargo capacity with all seats in place.

Quick Stats2023 Toyota Highlander Limited AWD
EngineTurbocharged 2.4-Liter Four-Cylinder
Output265 Horsepower / 310 Pound-Feet
Cargo Volume16.0 / 48.4 / 84.3 Cubic Feet
Price As Tested$50,210
On SaleNow

Despite a drop in power, the 2023 Highlander’s new turbocharged four-banger is much more enjoyable.

The Good: Although I liked the pre-facelift Highlander’s styling and quality interior, its dated V6 and indecisive eight-speed transmission made it a frustrating mount for freeway inclines and two-lane passing zones. That’s no longer the case. Despite a drop in power, the 2023 Highlander’s new turbocharged four-banger is much more enjoyable. It has an 47 extra units of torque. Best of all, the engine hits that 310-lb-ft peak at just 1,700 rpm, which gave me more confidence when merging than the old Highlander did. It’s also more efficient and cleaner-burning than the old V6, and a 5,000-pound tow rating is standard.

The transmission, retuned to take advantage of the new engine, also exhibits better behavior. Smoother downshifts on acceleration and less hunting when climbing a grade make the new Highlander a lot more comfortable.

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Interior Dashboard 2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Interior Infotainment

Speaking of comfort, the Highlander retains its impressive fit and finish relative to the class, with soft-touch cabin materials everywhere I was likely to contact. The padded knee bolsters and lower door panels are an especially nice touch – some cars cheap out down low, but not the Highlander. There are also lots of places to stash phones and wallets, including two slim shelves on the dashboard and hearty, Stanley-sized cupholders.

And the old Highlander’s Entune infotainment system is finally dead, with the newest Toyota software taking its place. In the case of my Limited tester, the new multimedia system shows up on a crisp, bright 12.3-inch center touchscreen, with an identically sized digital instrument cluster. The steering wheel buttons used to control the gauges are a bit confusing, but the center display is responsive and much improved over Entune. One complaint: I wish the toolbar on the left side of the screen didn’t disappear when using wireless Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Better yet, just give me a home button.

Headroom for anyone in the second or third rows is a bit tight due to the Highlander’s slinky-for-its-class roofline.

The Bad: There’s just 16.0 cubic feet of cargo room with all seats in place, which is down on the Kia Telluride by 5.0 and the Honda Pilot by 2.6. Headroom for anyone in the second or third rows is a bit tight due to the Highlander’s slinky-for-its-class roofline. The sleek design also pinches the side windows to the detriment of both outward visibility and passenger claustrophobia.

That wouldn’t be a huge deal if the Highlander weren’t also one of the most expensive offerings in the segment. Its $38,015 starting price with destination is right in line with the likes of the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and Kia Telluride, but prices go up precipitously as you add features. The Limited I drove cost $50,210 with an optional 360-degree camera, which is more you’d spend on the Telluride SX that comes with niceties like heated and ventilated second-row seats and dual sunroofs.

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited Interior Rear Seat

The Verdict: Toyota knows the Highlander is a bit too small for families that use their third rows regularly, which is why the Grand Highlander exists. But some folks may value the smaller crossover’s more parking-friendly size and flowing design. Add in a pleasant interior, much-improved technology, and newfound everyday muscle, and it’s not hard to see why the 2023 Toyota Highlander is such a stalwart.

The Three-Row Alternatives

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum Review: The Right Path
One Big Thing About The 2023 Kia Telluride: Rugged Good Looks

Competitors

Ford Explorer Honda Pilot Hyundai Palisade Kia Telluride Nissan Pathfinder

FAQs

Is The 2023 Toyota Highlander A Hybrid?

The Highlander offers a hybrid powertrain, consisting of a 2.5-liter inline-four and an eCVT, with all-wheel-drive models adding an electric motor to the rear axle. It gets 35 miles per gallon combined in either form. The base Highlander engine is a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four that makes 265 horsepower and gets 23 mpg combined.

How Many Seats Does The 2023 Highlander Have?

The Toyota Highlander seats up to eight with a second-row bench. Go for the optional second-row buckets and it still has seating for seven.

What Is The Toyota Highlander’s Luggage Space?

With all seats up, the Highlander has 16.0 cubic feet of cargo volume. Fold the third row flat and that number goes up to 48.4, and with all seats folded, the Highlander can hold 84.3 cubic feet of cargo.

2023 Toyota Highlander Limited AWD
EngineTurbocharged 2.4-Liter Four-Cylinder
Output265 Horsepower / 310 Pound-Feet
TransmissionEight-Speed Automatic
Drive TypeAll-Wheel Drive
Efficiency21 City / 28 Highway / 23 Combined
Weight4,453 Pounds
Towing5,000 Pounds
Seating Capacity7
Cargo Volume16.0 / 48.4 / 84.3 Cubic Feet
Base Price$36,620 + $1,335 Destination
Trim Base Price$49,360
As-Tested Price$50,210
Best Air Filter for a Mazda RX-7

Air filters are one of the easiest performance mods you can make to your car. Here’s a collection of some of the best air filters for the Mazda RX-7.

Air is just as important for the health and performance of your car, as it is for you. So, do your RX-7 a favor and keep on top of its air filter. There’s a lot of uncertainty about the true merit of air filters as a performance upgrade, but given the age of these cars, a fresh one will inevitably be positive.

So, if you want to get your RX-7 breathing better than ever, here are some of the top aftermarket options on the market…

Best Air Filter for the Mazda RX-7 FC

Pandem FC RX-7 fuelling tuning

Replacement Panel Filters

The FC RX-7 comes with a panel filter as standard, and as such, replacing that dusty old one with a new high-performance panel is super simple. All you have to do is remove the old one from the car’s air box, and place the new filter in its place. Job done!

The idea behind performance panel air filters is that they’ll do better at collecting contaminants, while also improving air flow. And as air is crucial to power, this is meant to improve your car’s performance. However, the reality is that any gains are likely to be minimal at best. Still, it’s a good idea to keep on top of the quality of your car’s air filter, as you don’t want hot or dirty air getting into the mix. K&N are often the go-to air filter brand, and as an added bonus, their products are washable, meaning that if the filter gets dirty you can clean it and re-use it. HKS’s Super Air Filter ($36) is a much cheaper alternative.

Cone Filters

Open-air cone filters replace the standard air box and panel filter. Visually, they look a bit more sporty in the engine bay, and theoretically the filter’s larger surface area should back that identity up. However, it’s worth noting that an open-air cone filter will be exposed to higher engine bay temperatures, compared to a panel filter tucked away in its airbox. And unfortunately, hot air is detrimental to performance. Ensuring good cold air flow into the engine bay is therefore vital if you want to run a cone filter.

A popular example of this for the RX-7 FC is the APEXi Power Intake ($69).

Closed Cold Air Induction Kits

To take things to the next level, you might want to invest in a full-on induction kit replacement, rather than a simple air filter replacement. Before you do that though, make sure to read our induction kit guide.

AutoExe produces a Ram Air kit for the FC-gen RX-7 (and the FD too, actually). If you want the FC-spec one, it’ll cost you $477.

Best Air Filter for the Mazda RX-7 FD

Mazda RX-7 FD Tuning: Intake

Replacement Panel Filters

Like the FC (and most cars, for that matter), the FD RX-7 runs a panel filter as standard. So, replacing the old one with a high-flow panel is super easy.

The HKS Super Air Filter ($25.80) is a good value option, while another popular alternative is the K&N washable & reusable panel.

Cone Filters

Want the more eye-catching look of a cone filter? The APEXi Power Intake ($56.00) is one to consider.

Serious trackday drivers might be interested in a couple of HKS products too. The Super Power Flow ($290.18) intake and Racing Suction Kit ($550.59) are slightly odd looking parts, but claim to increase air intake surface area by 27%.

When weighing up which sort of replacement filter to go for, there are certain form vs function factors to consider. So, be sure to read our panel vs cone guide!

Closed Cold Air Induction Kits

To take things to the next level, you might want to invest in a full-on induction kit replacement, rather than a simple air filter replacement. Before you do that though, make sure to read our induction kit guide.

AutoExe produces a Ram Air kit for the FD-gen RX-7, but at $744 it’s quite an investment. For the money, you get significantly improved airflow, filtration, and engine response, while the carbon airbox will be a nice visual addition the car’s engine bay. Oh, and expect some added induction noise too.

A Mazda RX-7 FC fitted with a headlight duct.

Pop-Up Headlight Duct

Although admittedly not an air filter per se, the KSP ATTAIN pop-up headlight duct is another sort of performance upgrade you could opt for to aid your car’s intake flow. And, as an added draw, it’s got a certain visual quality too.

The idea is that air will flow through the small duct in the headlight casing, towards the intake. KSP suggests that cone filters mounted near the lights will benefit the most from such a design, as it’ll ensure they receive cold air despite being without an airbox.

A headlight duct for the FC RX-7 is priced at $106, whereas the FD part is a little more expensive ($124). Alternatively, Fujita Engineering produces a similar product for the FD for $141.

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Best Honda Civic Type R Wheels

With an abundance of tuning options available for the Honda Civic Type R, we pick out the best aftermarket wheels for each generation to help you modify your car. 

Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter which of these five generations of Honda Civic Type R you prefer, the Type R models all have one thing in common – they were built to be driven… hard! And while the purists may prefer to run their Type Rs on the same diameter wheels the car left the factory with, don’t rule out an upgrade in diameter, especially if you fancy running a lower profile tire.

Similarly, even if you’re intending to stick with the OEM diameter wheel, opting for a wider or lighter hoop is almost a must if you’re planning on the odd track day or even just driving enthusiastically on your favorite local B-road.

Below, we’ve listed our 5 of the best wheels for the Honda Civic Type R and each of the 5 generations. We know, there are now 6 generations of Type R, but the FL5 Type R is too new for us to include, yet. So, that’s basically 25 awesome wheels for you to ogle over. From fully-forged mono blocs right through to three-piece splits, whether you’ve got mega bucks to spend or you’re on a tight budget, there’s something here for everybody. Which is your favorite, though?

Honda Civic Type R EP3 drive by shot

Best wheels for Honda Civic Type R EK9

First launched way back in 1997 the EK9 left the factory on 6x15in wheels, but it didn’t take long for people to start upping the anti in the diameter department. While the hardcore B-road blasting folk or track day fans will still stick with a 15in wheel – and a decent-sized sidewall – the show guys prefer a 16in wheel or even a 17in upgrade on a lower-profile tire.

As we explained in our EK9 Tuning Guide, when it comes to wheel brands, the purists will likely stick with JDM brands like Rays, Weds and Enkei, while those not so brand conscious – or with shallower pockets – can opt for something from the Rota or Japan Racing stables. Either way, just be sure to look for a low wheel weight so as not to affect the fine handling balance. As for your favorite design; well, you won’t go far wrong with any of the below…

Spoon Sports SW388 Civic Type R wheels

Spoon Sports SW388

The SW388 by Spoon is available in 15in to 18in diameter and is probably our preferred choice for the EK9 thanks to its simple, timeless five-spoke design. That being said, the fully forged wheel is by no means cheap, but it is also one of the lightest and strongest wheels here.

Advan RG-D2 Civic Type R Wheels

Advan RG-D2

Advan’s RG-D2 is another motorsport-inspired wheel that’s available in diameters ranging from 15in all the way to 18in. The flow-formed wheel is a middle of the road option in terms of budget and features an open six-spoke design with a nice little dish, too.

Side shot of an EG Civic

SSR Type X

If it’s rare and iconic wheel designs you’re after then you won’t find more rare – or more iconic – than SSR’s Type X. These split four-spoke wheels seem to look great in 15in fitment and, if you can find a set, will no doubt cost you a fair few quid to purchase. Definitely a good long-term investment, though.

WORK Equip 03 CTR wheels

WORK Equip 03

If it’s multi-piece wheels you prefer and you’re looking for a bit of bling, then the WORK Equip 03 ticks all the boxes. Available in both two- and three-piece construction, plus a number of various widths, this retro-look wheel will always turn heads, no matter what color center you choose to opt for.

Japan Racing JR10 wheels

Japan Racing JR10

If you want to turn heads but are working to a budget, then the JR10 should be right up your street, especially as it’s available in 15in-19in diameters, plus a whole host of widths and finishes. Personally, we like the simple silver centers with a polished lip.

Head on shot of silver Honda Civic Type R EP3 with carbon fibre bonnet

Best Honda Civic Type R EP3 wheels

It wasn’t until 2001 that Honda launched the EP3 Type R, which actually came as standard on 17in wheels. While most tuners choose to stick was the OEM diameter, a tire upgrade from the stock 205/45/17s to a wider 215 (or even 225) is often recommended, perhaps with a slightly lower profile tire wall.

As we stated in our EP3 Tuning Guide, the standard 17in wheels are actually quite light, so there is no enormous need to change them, but if you wish to, especially when going for a 225 wide tire, 8x17s can fit quite easily, as long as you stick to no lower than a ET35 offset. When it comes to your preferred wheel of choice, then we’d suggest one of the below which work well with the car’s wedge like appearance. 

Enkei RPF1 EP3 wheels

Enkei RPF1

Enkei’s sexy RPF1 reminds us of a 90’s Formula One wheel which, when you consider Enkei made F1 wheels back then and F1 is part of the wheel’s name, that sort of makes sense. Available in dimensions ranging from 14in to 17in the split six-spoke single-piece design is simply stunning.

Work Emotion CR 2P Civic Type R Wheels

Work Emotion CR 2P

If ever there was a wheel that screamed ‘JDM’ then it’s WORK’s Emotion CR 2P. This deep, two-piece split-rim is available in a multitude of sizes and finishes, plus it works for either a show car or track day application. So, that’s a win, win in our book!

Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 wheels on EP3

Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2

If it’s a hardcore race-look you’re after then you can’t go far wrong with Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2. This 12-spoke, single piece wheel was inspired by the BTCC and is said to be heat treated and also super light. Available in 15in, 17in and 18”, plus a number of widths and finishes, this wheel is a no brainer for us.

Spoon Sports CR93 civic type r wheels

Spoon Sports CR93

Spoon’s CR93 has a real OEM look to it and works especially well on the EP3 Type R. In 8.5x17in fitment the wheel tips the scales at just 21.45 lbs and the spoke design is intended to clear larger aftermarket brake calipers.

Mitsubishi Evo 8 Enkei wheels

Mitsubishi Evo 8 Enkei

If it’s an OEM+ option you’re after, then a lot of people fit factory Enkei wheels that came as standard on the Mitsubishi Evo 8. This simple six-spoke designed wheel is both strong, light and affordable, plus it will clear a large caliper.

A close up front right shot of white Honda Civic FN2 TYPE-R TURBO 00 driving in city with blurred lights behind

Best Honda Civic Type R FN2 wheels

Over here in Europe the third-generation of Civic Type R, Honda’s FN2, was released in 2007,  thankfully still in hatchback form (in Japan they got the saloon-bodied FD2). The FN2 was a much larger car than its predecessors, which was available as stock with an 18in wheel or even an optional 19in. Obviously, the benefit of this is that there are plenty of aftermarket options available for the car. As we mentioned in our FN2 Tuning Guide, the stock offset of ET55 does mean the wheels tuck in the arches a tad too much; ET40 fills the arches much better and still avoids clearance issues, even on an 8.0in rim. As for the type of wheel that suits this car, well it was quite a radical design which you either loved or hated. Those that bought and modified one soon realized that the simple, less fussy designed wheels worked better.

Rays VOLK CE28 wheels

Rays VOLK CE28

The CE28 is a ten-spoke single-piece wheel available in 17in and 18in diameter, plus a number of widths and fitments. The JDM-style design features a pronounced lip and we’d say a 18in fitment finished in bronze is about as good as it gets, especially if you’re after a wheel that both looks good and performs well.

Rota Force wheels

Rota Force

If you’re on a tight budget then Rota’s ten-spoke Force is a great looking wheel for a fraction of the cost of many other higher-profile brands. Available in 17in and 18in diameter, this single-piece wheel also comes in a huge number of fitments, widths and finishes. A great first aftermarket wheel choice.

OZ Racing Alleggerita HLT Civic type r wheels

OZ Racing Alleggerita HLT

Available in 17in and 18in diameters, the Alleggerita features OZ’s HLT (High Light Technology) which offers lightness and resistance, apparently. This nine-spoke motorsport inspired wheel is middle of the road in terms of pricing and is available in a number of widths and finishes.

SSR Professor SP5 wheels

SSR Professor SP5

If you’re after the ultimate show wheel then SSR’s Professor SP5 could well be it. While not cheap, these stunning ten-spoke split rims are available in pretty much any size and fitment you could dream up, not to mention a load of different finishes, too. Stunning!

Bola B1 wheels

Bola B1

If you’re after a definitive JDM-look wheel on an absolute budget then Bola’s B1 is the perfect choice for your FN2. Available in 17in to 19in diameter and in a number of widths, the B1 is a six-spoke stunner than comes in a large array of finishes.

Civic Type r fk2 driving shot

Best Honda Civic Type R FK2 wheels

The 2015 FK2 was based on the ninth generation Civic and featured flared, touring car-inspired wheel arches, which meant plenty of room for wider wheels. While it actually came on 19in wheels as stock, the low-profile tires meant an extra firm ride so we’d suggest dropping down to 18in and fitting a tire with a deeper tire wall. As we mentioned in our FK2 Tuning Guide, a high offset of ET60 pushes the wheels well into the arches and you get a hell of a lot of arch gap which really doesn’t help the aesthetics, however, a set of 20mm spaces can sort this. Thankfully, the choice of aftermarket wheels on offer, due to its 5×120 fitment, is massive.

OZ Ultralegerra fk2 wheels

OZ Ultralegerra

Motorsport-inspired wheels don’t come much more iconic than OZ’s Ultralegerra which, let’s be honest, looks good on pretty much anything but particularly suits the FK2 Type R. Made in Italy the wheel features six double spokes and comes in a huge number of diameters, fitments and finishes.

Rota P1 Civic type r wheels

Rota P1

The Rota P1, in an 18in diameter, is about as good as it gets if you’re after a budget wheel for your FK2. This nine-spoke motorsport-inspired wheel looks particular good in the Gunmetal finish, too. Well, we think so, anyway…

Japan Racing JR29 wheels

Japan Racing JR29

Considering how reasonably priced the JR29 is, it has a really great look thanks to its split five-spoke design. This wheel is available in probably more configuration choices than any other here, but we’d take the 8.5x18in in Matt Bronze.

SSR GTX01

SSR GTX01

Wheel designs don’t come much more aggressive than SSR’s GTX01. Another flow formed wheel from SSR, the GTX01 has a chunky looking design that features 10-spokes and is available with a choice of three different face types (Standard, Medium and Deep Concave).

WORK Emotion D9R

WORK Emotion D9R

The D9R by WORK is a wheel that’s extremely popular with the drift crowd, but which also looks amazing on front-wheel drive cars, like the FK2 Type R. The wheel’s lower offset gives plenty of lip and the D9R us available in a number of fits and finishes.

Modified Honda Civic Type R FK8 front right shot

Best Honda Civic Type R FK8 wheels

The final model we’re looking at here is the 2017 FK8 Honda Civic Type R which was the first to come on whopping 20in wheels as standard (until the Sport Line was launched on 19in rims). In our FK8 Tuning Guide, we concluded that whatever diameter wheel you choose to run on your FK8, you’ll want a lightweight wheel, something flow-formed from the likes of APEX, or something forged (if you’re feeling flush), like the legendary TE37. Funny we should mention that…

Rays VOLK RACING TE37

Rays VOLK RACING TE37

When it comes to probably the most popular and highly regarded choices for FK8 wheel upgrades then the Rays Volk Racing TE37 has got to be up there. Let’s face it, these wheels look good on pretty much everything. The race-inspired wheel comes in a simple six-spoke design and works in pretty much any color. A no brainier if you’re after a timeless wheel that will always look good.  

Apex EC-7 civic type r wheels  

Apex EC-7

The EC-7 is another iconic JDM wheel that comes in a choice of three increasingly concaved faces. No matter what the concave you choose, the spokes are designed to clear most aftermarket upgraded calipers. Quality really is order of the day here, but then that is reflected in the price.

 

WedsSport TC105X

WedsSport TC105X

Light, strong and stunning, that’s probably the best way to describe the WedsSport TC105X. Developed on track, the ten-spoke TC105X comes in a number of dimensions ranging from 15in up to 18in. Amazingly, even the largest sized 11×18” wheel tips the scales at just 8.6kg!

Vossen HF-5 FK8 wheels

Vossen HF-5

There’s just something about the futuristic look of Vossen’s HF-5 which doesn’t just scream JDM… it also shouts FK8 Type R at the same time. The Hybrid Forged (yes, that’s the HF part of the name) wheel is available in diameters ranging from 19in to 24in and widths of 8.5in to 12in.

Desmond Regamaster Evo II Civic type r wheels

Desmond Regamaster Evo II

Finally, Desmond’s timeless five-spoke Regamaster Evo II is a fully-forged monobloc made in Japan that features a nice sized (45mm) dish and in 9.5x18in fitment that tips the scales at just 8.12kg. While sizes are quite limited, these are available in a number of colors.

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