Cross-shop the new 2010 Toyota Highlander versus the 2009 one and you'll find them virtually indistinguishable from each other without the help of a window sticker. But there's one very significant change underneath it all: the 2010 Toyota Highlander is American-made. Production of the 2010 Toyota Highlander is ramping up today in Princeton, Indiana. The Highlander joins the Sienna minivan and Sequoia full-size SUV on the production line at Princeton as the twelfth Toyota model to be built in North America.
The move is the result of a $450 million investment in the plant that's part of the company's manufacturing-capacity changes. Previously the Tundra full-size pickup had been built at the plant, but Tundra production was consolidated to San Antonio, Texas, last year.
Assembly of the 2010 Highlander was originally slated for a new factory in Blue Springs, Mississippi, but the market decline and changing model makeup led Toyota to first plan Prius production there instead, then put that plant on hold.
During this capacity-juggling, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI) retained all 4,200 of its workers; it will now allow a boost in production for the West Virginia plant that manufactures V-6 engines used in the Highlander and several other models.
2010 Toyota HighlanderEnlarge Photo
Princeton isn't the only production facility making Toyotas in Indiana. The same Lafayette plant that makes 2010 Subaru Legacy, Outback, and Tribeca models also assembles some Camry models for Toyota.
Beginning last year, Toyota offered a new 187-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder base engine and six-speed automatic transmission on the Highlander for improved fuel economy. Not much else has changed on the 2010 Toyota Highlander versus the 2009 model. The moonroof is now available on the Base Grade, and Base V-6 models can now be equipped with the back-up camera system.