Will there be a 2017 Toyota Highlander SE in 2017? And would it matter?

2014 Toyota Highlander Limited AWD

The exhaust is barely visible on the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited. Would dual exhaust matter?

What do you think? Should Toyota build a Highlander SE? We think that something like that might be in the works.

We’re not mentioning names, just in case, but were we told by someone high enough in Toyota to know that Toyota would need something for its mid-cycle refresh, and what, we were asked, about dual exhaust?

Yeah, we said, that would be nice, stifling a yawn. The new 2014 Toyota Highlander has single exhaust, and it doesn’t even look like it has that. But what would dual exhaust bring to the party.

And sportier trim, he said. A spoiler, perhaps?

Again, we were underwhelmed.

So we added, if you’re going to make it sportier—thinking yeah, the Highlander is sexy as a PTA meeting—how about doing something with the suspension. You know, maybe shorter, stiffer springs. Maybe shocks. That could be done without a lot of trouble and expense.

Well, he says, how about direct injection?

Direct injection? You could do that?

Sure.

Now, we know there’s a lot to getting a new engine certified for use in the U.S., not only the design and engineering but the emissions testing that the vehicle has to go through is extensive and expensive. Which is one reason any manufacturer has a limited number of engines from which to choose.

So we say, really?

Yes.

Well, OK. That would be neat.

But then it occurs to us later, the 3.5-liter V-6 in the 2014 Toyota Highlander already has direct injection.

So, we were talking a Toyota Highlander with dual exhaust, a bit of trim and maybe a suspension tweak or tow? Would a Toyota Highlander SE, let’s call it, be worth celebrating, any more than a Toyota Camry SE or perhaps a Dodge Grand Caravan R/T?

A 2017 Toyota Highlander SE, or whatever it might be called, is it already in development? And does it matter?