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2017 Toyota Highlander gets a new look, 8-speed transmission

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Gene J. Puskar/AP/File

(Read caption) This is the Toyota logo on the grill of a 2016 Toyota Tacoma on display at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show in Pittsburgh Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.

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If you’re looking for a reliable and somewhat roomy SUV with third-row seats, the Toyota Highlander is a worthy option. The model, which is closely related to the Lexus RX, also won’t bust the budget like so many of the more premium offerings in this segment.

The current Highlander arrived on the scene as a 2014 model. For the 2017 model year it receives some updates that include revised styling, an 8-speed automatic transmission, engine stop-start, and the addition of a sporty SE variant.

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Before you get excited about the SE, note that it is just a trim. Opting for the SE adds things like 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, stiffened suspension, black elements around the exterior, and black leather trim in the cabin.

The standard powertrain for the 2017 Highlander remains a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder, rated at 185 horsepower. This engine is still mated to a 6-speed auto. Above this is Toyota’s familiar 3.5-liter V-6, which is rated at 270 hp and comes standard with the 8-speed auto. At the top of the range is the Highlander Hybrid, which uses the V-6 as its internal combustion component and has a combined output of 280 hp. This model relies on an electronically-controlled CVT.

The 2017 Highlander makes its debut next week at the 2016 New York Auto Show and will be in showrooms this fall. Pricing information will be announced closer to the market launch but we can expect the starting figure to remain under $30k.

To learn about other vehicles debuting at the New York Auto Show, head to our dedicated hub. And for more on the Highlander, read the in-depth reviews over atThe Car Connection.