The Original Toyota Highlander Shared a Platform With a Surprising Car

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Ever since its unveiling at the New York Auto Show back in 2000, the Toyota Highlander has been a smash hit for the Japanese car giant. The first-generation Highlander was praised for its responsive handling, generous interior space, and endurance. It also had a relatively low price tag for a mid-size SUV.
Over two decades later, consumer organizations are still impressed with the Highlander’s value and reliability, and each time a new version is released, critics claim it is the best version yet.
Read on to learn more about the evolution of the Toyota Highlander, and discover which car shared its platform with this popular crossover SUV.
The front end of a 2021 Toyota Highlander on display
The Toyota Highlander has changed quite a bit over the years.

The original Toyota Highlander

The car experts at MotorTrend describe how the original Toyota Highlander sat on a modified Camry platform. This was a pretty radical move from Toyota, because up until that point, most SUVs were based on platforms shared with pickup trucks.
Thanks to the lightweight platform, the 2001 model was a more comfortable ride than other SUVs of the era, and when fitted with a 3.0 liter V6 engine, it was capable of going from 0-60 mph in just 8.3 seconds.
For the second generation Highlander, released in 2007, Toyota stuck with the Camry platform, but made the car longer, wider, and taller.
A 3.5 liter V6 came as standard, enabling the SUV to reach 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds. This potent combination of power, agility, and comfort was proving to be a winning formula.

The Toyota Highlander keeps growing

In 2014, an even larger, third-generation Highlander appeared on the market, boasting a distinctive large grille and modern exterior design. This latest version could seat eight people, up from seven in previous generations.
The engine remained the same, as did the Camry platform. The vehicle sold well, and was generally well-received by critics, but for the first time ever, some drivers began to complain that it felt unwieldy and sluggish.
The fourth gen saw the Highlander grow once again, gaining 2.4 inches in length, a little more width, and offering more cargo room than ever before.
In response to customer feedback, Toyota finally swapped out the Camry platform that served the Highlander so well for so many years.
The latest models sit atop the more rigid TNGA-K platform, which is capable of supporting such a hefty vehicle, without having to compromise on ride and handling.

The Toyota Camry connection

While the modern Toyota Camry is clearly a mid-size sedan, the ‘90s Camry was a compact car, making the fact that it shared its platform with the bulky Highlander a tad surprising.
But the Camry platform, officially called the Toyota K platform, was extremely versatile, and underpinned many minivans, crossovers, and luxury sedans from 1999 until 2017, when TNGA-K came along and replaced it.
Compared to some other automakers, Toyota uses very few platforms across its entire lineup of new cars. This is an attempt to simplify the vehicles being produced, streamline manufacturing, and also make the sourcing of replacement parts easier if the vehicle ever needs them.
Some car fans worry this will restrict design options, making all Toyota cars look and feel alike. But as the Toyota Highlander proves, you can’t judge a car by its platform.

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