Given that my wife’s car is a Toyota Highlander, it was a pleasure to test drive the hybrid EV version of the car; especially the Limited version which is plush as can be with all the bells and whistles.
I like that it’s assembled at Toyota’s Motor Manufacturing Princeton, Ind., facility, the Highlander is a three-row crossover that offers a choice between four-cylinder and V6 power, front-wheel drive (FWD) and full-time four-wheel drive (4WD). The Highlander Hybrid got 32 mpg city/28 mpg highway.
The available 3.5-liter V6 (standard on SE and Limited) produces 270 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 RPM. The V6 is also equipped with dual VVT-i and a variable intake manifold. A five-speed, electronically controlled automatic transmission (ECT) offers selectable manual sequential shifting.
The Highlander Hybrid model’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system had a V6 gasoline engine with a high-torque electric drive motor-generator for total system output of 280 net horsepower. The 4WD Highlander Hybrid uniquely generates rear-wheel power with a separate electric motor that provides additional drive torque on demand. Thus, the Highlander Hybrid 4WD-i system does not require power-transfer gearing or a driveshaft from the front. The system electronically varies front and rear torque distribution depending on traction conditions.
Activating an EV-mode switch located on the front center console allows the driver to operate strictly in electric-mode under certain conditions for a limited distance at low speeds, or in some stop-and-go driving conditions. An ECON drive-mode switch activates a throttle-control program that adjusts the throttle response during acceleration, enhancing fuel economy. The Hybrid System Indicator in the instrument gauge panel provides the driver with a guideline to help optimize fuel consumption.
The Limited came with the Leather Premium Package, a power tilt/slide moonroof; leather-trimmed front and second-row seats and leatherette-trimmed third-row seat; multi-stage heated front seats; HomeLink® universal transceiver; auto-dimming rear-view mirror; leather-trimmed steering wheel with metallic accents and Bluetooth voice controls; leather-trimmed, chrome-accented shift lever with metallic inlay; metallic interior trim, and an engine immobilizer added to the security system.
Newly standard on the 2013 Highlander Hybrid, the Display Audio system integrates Navigation and the Toyota Entune multi-media system. The steering wheel gains controls for the audio, Multi-Information Display and Bluetooth hands-free phone capability.
To that, the Highlander Hybrid Limited grade adds the JBL® Premium Audio system, automatic climate control for the rear and offers perforated leather seating surfaces.
Awards awards awards
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid garnered category honors back in March of 2013 as part of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Cars for Families awards. The 2013 Highlander Hybrid won the Best Hybrid SUV for Families award for the third year in a row.
The Best Cars for Families awards combine quality, size and family-friendly features into a composite score. Quality is measured using a weighted average of scores from the U.S. News rankings at the time the awards are published. The rankings compare cars on the basis of safety, reliability and a consensus of automotive critics’ opinions. Size is based on a vehicle’s seating capacity and interior space. For family-friendly features, the U.S. News editors factor in the availability of features deemed to be helpful to families.