City driving with its stop and go traffic patterns is where the Hybrid shines. Compared with the Honda Pilot, the Highlander hybrid fuel savings are nearly eight miles per gallon better.
Hybrid SUV’s are available in two models, Base and Limited with prices ranging from the mid $30s to the low $40s. The Limited model I drove for a week was loaded with what I call the ‘journalist package’, nearly every option available from the manufacturer. It does allow reporters to try the latest equipment. It also kicks up the bottom line to more than $50 large.
Interior amenities include full leather, multi-adjustable front seats, sliding and reclining second row seats and a vinyl covered third row seat suitable for children that stows flat when not in use. Available cargo storage space inside the Highlander is just over 94 cubic feet.
Adding to the driving experience is a DVD-based navigation touch screen, backup camera, JBL sound system and full connectivity package including two wireless headphones for the rear-screen entertainment system.
There is no argument that the Highlander hybrid is good for the environment. Consumers will need to do the math to determine if the purchase price makes sense for their daily commute and pocketbook. Go green.
Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI News Service. Contact him at email@example.com)
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2012 Toyota Highlander Limited, 4WD
Engines: 3.5-liter V6 and three electric motors.
EPA mileage per gallon of regular unleaded fuel: 28 city, 28 highway, 28 combined
Base price: $44,195
Model as tested: $50,262
Assembled: The Highlander is built at Toyota Motor Kyushu (TMK), Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan at a modernized hybrid facility. All parts content including engine and transmission are from Japan.
Crash test ratings: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Toyota Highlander Hybrid its highest rating of ‘Good” in frontal offset, side impact and rollover protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Highlander Hybrid four stars, out of a possible five, for overall, frontal crash and rollover protection and five stars for front and rear side-impact protection.
Warranty: 8-year/100,000 mile hybrid component coverage; 3-year/36,000 mile basic; 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain; 2-year/25,000 mile scheduled maintenance.