Every auto brand is adding SUVs these days. Toyota appears posed to do the same according to a new trademark filing. The automaker has applied to use the name ‘Grand Highlander’ in both the U.S. and Canada.
A keen reader over at GR86 forum found that Toyota filed the U.S. trademark application on Dec. 28th. What exactly Toyota has planned for the Grand Highlander name is anyone’s guess. Our guess is that Toyota is planning an extended wheelbase iteration of the Highlander. It’s a formula that is popular amongst the industry; such as the Ford Expedition Max.
The Highlander is facing stiff new competition from the Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade, both of which have a couple additional inches in wheelbase versus the Highlander. It is possible Toyota is wanting to ensure they’re in a prime competitive position by adding a longer version. The Grand Highlander could also be a flagship version designed to compete with the high-end versions of the Telluride and Palisade.
Given the latest Highlander is based on Toyota’s TNGA architecture, a longer version is certainly feasible. The architecture also underpins the latest Toyota Sienna, which has eight additional inches of wheelbase versus Highlander.
Another hallmark of the TNGA architecture is its flexibility in allowing certain regions to have unique products. A prime example is how Toyota has added all-wheel drive to the 2020 Toyota Camry as a means of remaining competitive in the midsize sedan market in the U.S.
News of a possible new Highlander variant also fuel rumors the Sequoia’s days are numbered. The larger Toyota SUV is rumored to end production after the 2021 model year. There is no known replacement for the Sequoia, suggesting a new Highlander variant would fill the void.