The stowaway wireless charger in the 2021 Toyota Highlander is second to none

The 2021 Toyota Highlander driving on a windy, paved road with trees on either side.
Credit: Toyota

There’s an audible angelic choir that sings “ahhhhhhh” when you first open the center console compartment in the 2021 Toyota Highlander to reveal a wireless charging pad. 

A light glows down from the heavens, brighter than a midnight star.

Then, a guy in the backseat narrates the entire event for you. “Yes, John. This is the new wireless charging compartment in the 2021 Toyota Highlander where you can now place your Apple device without the need for cords. Everyone at Toyota thanks you.” 

He sounds a bit like that guy who does Honest Trailers or maybe makes introductions on Deal or No Deal. Sure, it’s a little odd to have a press vehicle that comes with an actual human being sitting in the back who announces a hidden compartment everytime you open it.

So, let me stop right here and say there isn’t actually an angelic choir or the announcer guy, but maybe there should be? Marketing strategy meeting on that, Toyota? And there is actually a light that shines down from the heavens, but it’s a dome reading light and you probably have one in your car. The wireless charging compartment is very cool though. 

I liked being able to open it, stash my phone, and then not worry about someone seeing an expensive iPhone (that I don’t actually own and is on a press loan from Apple, natch) sitting out in the open when I forget to put it somewhere safe. It’s a nod to how technology is really becoming even more important in our lives. No need for a place to put books or a wallet, but if we can safely stow and charge a phone, that’s the biggest win.

And then there’s the overall interior styling. Toyota is on a roll with new vehicles that look like they were living in the future for a while. I like the new Sienna with what is certainly the most appealing center console design I’ve seen in any family car.

As usual, I like to think about what comes next. Hidden compartments are helpful these days when phones cost north of $1,000 and you might have three or four of them in the vehicle at one time. I’d like to see more wireless chargers in the rear compartments, especially if they are in a stowaway holder like this. Someday, backseat passengers will be able to charge wirelessly and even stream to their own speakers using Bluetooth. It’s essentially like having an office or a room in your house you can drive around. I’d like the phones to charge quickly and for passengers to be able to stream video to rear displays as well.

That’s coming for sure. For now, the Toyota Highlander  is a sign of things to come.