By KBB.com Editors
Long considered the gold standard in crossover SUVs, Toyota takes the legendary Highlander one step closer to perfection by offering a hybrid/electric variant that is both fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. More complex than Toyota's other well-know hybrid, the Prius, the Highlander Hybrid utilizes a 3.3-liter V6 engine (the same as used by the gasoline-powered Highlander) teamed to an electric motor. On four-wheel-drive models, Toyota includes another electric motor to power the rear wheels. The Highlander Hybrid sacrifices almost no interior room in accommodating its additional hardware, but when compared with its gasoline-powered equivalent its price tag jumps a hefty seven grand.You'll Like This Car If...
Like fast acceleration but think being green is equally important? Toyota promises zero to 60 miles per hour acceleration in about eight seconds with the two-wheel-drive Highlander Hybrid, and the four-wheel-drive model should be quicker yetdue to that additional electric motor.You May Not Like This Car If...
The base-level Highlander Hybrid costs almost $7,000 more than a comparable gasoline-engine model, though the Hybrid does include some additional equipment. Like other hybrid vehicles, the Highlander might not yield real-world fuel economy at the levels suggested by its EPA ratings.What's Significant About This Car?
A five-passenger model joins the three-row seven-passenger version.Driving It Driving Impressions
From the first instant you step on the accelerator (it's not always the "gas"), the Highlander Hybrid operates precisely as you would like. The drive system is so transparent you can barely tell what's happening. The gasoline engine runs quietly, and the transition between gasoline and electric power is seamlessly smooth.
The Highlander Hybrid offers appealing steering feel and a comfortable ride. Still, an occasional bump can hit harshly, but the Highlander Hybrid is surprisingly agile on curvy mountain roads, accelerating eagerly and effortlessly. Inside, its recessed gauges can be difficult to see on a sunny day. Third-row space is miniscule, but the second row has ample legroom.
Whether you choose a Hybrid for its environmental appeal, to cut down on fuel usage or because it's become a popular thing to do, this one performs in a truly satisfying and amazingly transparent manner.
Consumption Display Screen (if installed)
Half the fun of driving a Hybrid is glancing at the mileage screen now and thenwith care, of course, if you're moving at the time. That's one of many reasons to order a Highlander Hybrid with the optional navigation system.
Three battery packs sit beneath the rear seats, which are 20 millimeters higher than typical. As in all Highlanders, the back seat slides fore and aft. A Power Meter and Information Display sit below the speedometer, replacing the customary tachometer. The meter reads zero-to-200 kilowatts, which is the equivalent of 268 total horsepower sent to the wheels. The gear selector includes a "B" position, which denotes regenerative braking. The Highlander Hybrid has electronic power steering and an electric water pump. An electric air-conditioner compressor control lets the gasoline engine shut off sooner even when the vehicle is underway, and it can cycle off while cruising.Exterior
Visually, you can hardly tell that a Highlander is the Hybrid edition except for its "Hybrid Synergy Drive" badge. Distinctive 17-inch aluminum wheels are another cue. They hold higher-speed-rated tires, attesting to the Highlander Hybrid's performance capability. Full LED brake lights are installed for greater efficiency. Rear privacy glass and a roof rack are standard. All Highlanders have received some cosmetic upgrades for the 2007 model year, and these appear on the Hybrid as well. Based on the Camry platform, the Highlander uses a fully independent suspension.Notable Standard Equipment
Standard equipment includes Toyota's Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) advanced stability control (which includes anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist), seat-mounted side airbags and roll-sensing curtain-type airbags. Each Highlander Hybrid also has daytime running lights, Optitron lighted gauges, cruise control, rear wiper/washer, power windows, a power driver's seat with power lumbar adjustment and a full-size spare tire. The Limited trim adds a six-CD changer, leather-trimmed seats, rear spoiler and automatic climate control. Toyota offers the Highlander with two-wheel drive or "intelligent" four-wheel drive.Notable Optional Equipment
When the optional navigation system is installed, you get a complete Energy Monitor Screen and Fuel Consumption Screen similar to those available on Toyota's Prius hatchback. Other options include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power glass moonroof.Under the Hood
The Highlander's V6 engine and electric drive system are derived from Toyota's years of experience with hybrid technology. Though quite complex, the system works seamlessly and performs even better than the gasoline-powered models.
3.3-liter V6 with Permanent Magnetic Motor
208 horsepower @ 5600 rpm/ 165 horsepower @ 4500 rpm (268 net horsepower)
212 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm/ 247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-1500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/27 (2WD), 31/27 (4WD)
Prices are considerably higher for a Hybrid than a regular gasoline-engine Highlander. In base trim with two-wheel drive, the Highlander Hybrid has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $33,135, while with four-wheel drive it's $34,535. Stepping up to a Limited boosts the outlay to $35,255 with two-wheel drive, or $36,655 with four-wheel drive. In any case, four-wheel drive adds $1,400, and the optional third-row seat adds $540. The Highlander Hybrid's popularity precludes cutting much off the sticker, but to make your best deal be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price. It shows the typical transaction price paid for the Highlander Hybrid in your area. As for resale, Kelley Blue Book expects the Highlander Hybrid to be at the top of its class, holding values even higher than the gasoline-powered Highlander.