Toyota Highlander Hybrid Extended Review

Jun 26, 2008

Handling and Performance

When wanting power, the delivery of the power in a Highlander hybrid is pretty fast, near instantaneous, and the actual performance level of the vehicle is pretty close to being the best of any SUV on the market, regardless of hybrid or conventional engines. The power train in the Highlander is much closer to the Lexus RX 400h's, and the V6 engine has been modified to assist air conditioning and power steering, as well as being dual-cam. Both of the engines, electric and gas-powered together, give a combined horsepower of 167, as well as giving 247 lb-ft torque.

As for the gasoline engine itself, it is 3.3-liter V6, which is found in another one of Toyota's luxury vehicles, the RX 330. This particular engine is fantastic, being able to produce a horsepower of up to 268, and when it is given support by the two electric motors, it's only more impressive. As for the electric motor in front with the gasoline engine, the two together are definitely able to handle any driving conditions. The rear electrical motors are only used in the event that the front wheels may begin to lose traction or helping the acceleration achieve full-throttle.......

As for the gasoline engine, it has the same feature as many hybrids to simply turn off whenever the Hybrid is decelerating or stopping, so that the electric motor can take over.

The hybrid can reach 60 mph in about 8 seconds, and that is certainly considerably faster than a conventional Highlander. Not to forget, though, the Highlander only has to consume around the same amount of gas as a compact sedan.

As for the handling, the vehicle is tight and composed. With the 300 lbs of extra weight added by the electric motor in back, the Highlander settles on the ground much better than others. Other than that, the strut suspension, of the MacPherson variety, is along the front stabilizer bars and wit rear, making the vehicle much easier to put on rough roads.

Gas Mileage and the Green Factor

Toyota Motor Corporation has long focused on this move towards being eco-friendly, and so it is no shock that the Toyota Highlander is another in a long line of Econ and EV driving vehicles. The green quality of this vehicle is impossible to ignore, as this is a vehicle that actually limits what exactly the throttle can do in order to secure a more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly car. While that makes it more difficult for the engine to truly reach its full capacity, the EV mode still makes the vehicle more efficient.

The US EPA had a rating of 27 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg in highway driving, which is amazing in comparison to other hybrid sedans on the market, much less SUVs. In looking at the ratings, it is quite obvious that because the electric motor operates so often while driving in city conditions, the mileage is much better.

Finally, the Highlander is a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle, also known as an SULEV. This particular SUV is fairly straightforward, as the toxins and harmful emissions from this particular vehicle are even less than someone smoking a cigar. It sounds amazing, but it is true, as there is 80% less pollution from the Highlander than from a conventional, average-sized SUV. As a result, this vehicle is the perfect suburban vehicle.

Additional Features

Already previously mentioned, the Highlander is the only SUV currently on the market that actively offers a third-row seat. As opposed to the RX 400h or Ford's Escape hybrid, even the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, this vehicle is still hands down better than the competition for room.

As for safety features, the air-bags are strategically placed, as well as there being a reinforced body and an electronic brake force distribution. The brake systems are anti-lock, as well as there being a star safety system. There are also daytime running lights, helpful in the event that there is fog or other inclement weather. Finally, there is a theft-deterrent system in place that also causes an immobilization of the engine.

The warranty from Toyota is not as spectacular as the vehicle itself, mainly because it only covers the first 3 years, or for mileage up to 36,000 mi. The actual warranty for the power train is 60 months, or, of course, 60,000 miles, and that isn't quite as long as some of the other warranties Toyota offers for vehicles.

Although, given all of what has been talked about, the Highlander is a pretty amazing vehicle overall. The features and the description of the exterior are definitely in support of the opinion that this vehicle is the best hybrid SUV on the market now. When you're someone who doesn't normally like to buy SUVs, but you have a concern for the environment and may need to get an SUV, this is definitely the car for you.


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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Extended Review


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