Toyota Highlander vs. Subaru Ascent: Two Three-Row SUVs Not Sold in Japan

Three-row SUV is a genre that has been gaining popularity recently. Many models in that genre are increasing in Japan too, but some models are not available in Japan even they are built in Japan. In this article, we would like to compare the Toyota Highlander and the Subaru Ascent.

Japanese three-rows not in Japan

In the recent Japanese market, three-row SUVs are getting popular. But not many people use the third row since it’s considered to be for emergency use.

However, in the United States, the demand for those types of SUVs is high due to the country being large. This genre is being a battlefield for many carmakers.

Japanese makers are no exception to this market. Toyota sells the Highlander SUV, with its rival being the Ascent from Subaru. So how are they similar and different?

The Toyota Highlander and the Subaru Ascent, both not available in Japan
The Toyota Highlander and the Subaru Ascent, both not available in Japan

In Japan, Toyota has prepared the RAV4 and the Harrier as a selection for the large-size SUV market.

But actually, the Highlander is based on the GA-K platform from the TNGA platform family, which the two SUVs also use.

The RAV4 is the oldest among the three models, with its sales started in 2018 for the North American market. Next comes the Highlander which launched in 2019, and the latest Harrier (Venza in the North American market) in 2020.

By the way, the first-generation Highlander was sold as the Kluger in the Japanese market. And when the second generation appeared in 2007 with having developed on a Camry platform, the model was discontinued in Japan.

Instead, the Vanguard, which was based on the third generation RAV4, was introduced in 2007 for the Japanese market. The second-generation Highlander became an SUV mainly for North America and China.

Highlander’s body dimensions are 4950 mm x 1930 mm x 1730 mm (194.8 in. x 75.9 in. x 68.1 in.), and it has three rows of seats in a 5-meter-long body.

3.5-liter V6 gasoline and 2.5-liter I4 hybrid are selectable. And for the top-tier gasoline model, Toyota has added “Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD” just like the RAV4. Comparing to the previous model, the front and rear suspensions have been tuned for agility and turning performance, as well as a smoother and quieter ride.

Teiichi Saeki, Chief Engineer for the Highlander, talks about his car.

“We have designed the Highlander to be used by women. In North America, there are some cases where moms let their kids ride in the second or third-row seat, and then head straight to work. That’s why we focused on the mobility part.”

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The 2020 Highlander starts from $34,600 to $48,250.

NEXT PAGE So how’s the Subaru counterpart doing?


Compare Highlander & Ascent!