Yes, you read the headline well, and yes, it is happening. Why, you ask? No one knows. The 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE is coming to the markets. XSE or Extreme Sport Edition is a very sporty trim level. Why is this so weird? Because no one expected sports treatment on the family SUV such as Highlander.

However, it is happening. XSE comes with sportier tuning for steering and suspension. Moreover, it adds a more aggressive appearance. However, the engine will remain, so the Highlander XSE will use well-known V6 powertrain. This version will go on sale this fall as a model for 2021.

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE exterior

2021 Highlander XSE Exterior Facelift

After Jeep, Ford and other established manufacturers, Toyota is entering the race for the best sports SUV. The 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE won’t win the gold medal, but it looks cool. The only mystery is why did Toyota choose such a family SUV as Highlander. It is what it is and here’s what XSE treatment will bring. Besides sportier appearance, Highlander XSE will get a performance-tuned suspension and steering.

The new model will look more attractive with a new athletic stance. Some parts are more aggressive, especially the front section with larger lower air intakes. Moreover, headlights are looking sharper. In the back, Highlander XSE will get chrome dual-exhaust tips. However, dual-exhaust is more of a cosmetic upgrade.

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE rear

Interior Gets Minor Upgrades

Inside, changes are less dramatic. The 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE offers a unique color scheme with red leather sits and numerous accents. Besides that, don’t expect significant upgrades. Highlander is a family SUV with three rows of seats and a high level of comfort. A seven-seat version is available as standard. However, you can optionally get an eight-seat layout.

Toyota offers a long list of standard amenities. That includes keyless entry, 6.1-inch touchscreen, two-zone climate control and five USB ports. Optional equipment consists of a moonroof, 8-inch display and leather upholstery. The only other change that could happen is the introduction of the new driver-assistance aids.

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE interior

XSE Trim Level Will Use the Optional V6 Engine

Unfortunately, the Japanese manufacturer won’t offer a new engine. That means the upcoming 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE continues with a standard 3.5-liter V6 displacement. This engine is capable of producing 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. Moreover, the same 8-speed automatic transmission is in the offer. That means the fans of sports cars and manual transmission will be disappointed.

Even the AWD system is optional. In normal circumstances, the XSE trim level offers a standard FWD setup. According to Toyota, the suspension will be tuned thanks to the new stiffer springs and dampers. Additionally, the rear anti-roll bar is available, and steering will be sportier than on the regular Highlander.

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE Price and Release Date

The approaching SUV will go on sale this fall as a model for 2021. New 2021 Toyota Highlander XSE will cost more than the base model, somewhere between $36,000 and $40,000. Toyota clearly plans to expend the available trim levels and enter the sportier SUV segment. Moreover, this could mean we could see the Highlander TRD Sport in the future as well.

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