Review for Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Your Pick for Safety and comfort
By Kathy Chin Leong
A winter trip to Lake Tahoe for our family of four was a grand expedition. We were anticipating the snow, we were anticipating the s’mores, and we were anticipating the journey while test driving the latest Highlander Hybrid, a $47,870 All Wheel Drive SUV.
As we eventually hit the wet road, the car was sure and steady. I felt safe, confident we would not be sliding or slipping on the road. Meanwhile, the kids felt giddy with the outlets and gadgetry they had at their fingertips. With leather seats for the whole tribe, the comfort level was ideal along this five-hour stretch of highways and roads. Our bottoms and backs were in good shape when we finished our drive.
And when we arrived, our gas tank was still half full. Taking in regular unleaded gas, it features a 17.1 gallon or 65 liter tank, so that can take you quite far. Furthermore, the 2016 Highlander hybrid version gives you 27 to 28 mph which is far better than its nonelectric predecessor that gives you 20 to 25 mph. It generates electricity each time you pump the breaks. There's no plugging in to get electricity for this one.
This 7-passenger SUV has got a double moon roof so everyone can get plenty of natural light and fresh air.
Keyless entry is quite typical nowadays. And with this model, you need only to be near the car with keys in pocket to unlock the door. And you lock it by sliding your finger on the ribbed lines on the door handle. The car comes with four doors and a lift back that can be automatically adjusted. This feature is excellent for short garages where you can easily set the liftback so that it opens partially instead of all the way. And, if you don't want all the world to see your stuff after parking in a public place, you can customize the hatch to open to the degree you feel comfortable.
If you have been paranoid to zip up mountains and weave switchbacks alone, you can overcome your fears with this solid behemoth. This SUV grips the dirt and angles delicately. It flows! The steering wheel is designed so that it is not too loose to the touch and not too sensitive either. Braking is natural and not too touchy.
If you plan to nail plenty of long trips, do take advantage of the BSM or Blind Side monitoring option. On this feature icons on the left or right view mirror will light up when someone drives too closely. This way you will be alerted so you can move into another lane safely or know to get out of your lane if that other driver gets too close for comfort.
And here's another safety benefit: Lane Departure Alert or LDA. When you drift too much to the left or right, the car will beep repeatedly. This is excellent on long treks when you are tired and start getting sloppy. Driving assists include: anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control that kicks in when you need to control skidding, and traction control (TRAC) that prevent wheels from spinning during acceleration on slippery roads.
A pre-collision warning light flashes and activates on when the car detects you may crash. In dire situations the brake comes on and is automatically activated. The extra wide Screen for the GPS and other apps is of great value when your eyes are not always keen to small details.
Comfort and Electronics
If you are an audiophile, note the nice entertainment system with JBL speakers, CD player, and the capability to play your own music from your phone. Looking for plugs? There are three 12v/120v outlets but only one USB port below the navigation screen. For the amount of electronics one family has, this is a serious limitation!
As for the comfort of the driver, the driver side provides a myriad of seat controls including auto front/back and controllable lumbar support. It also provides saved controls for two drivers. On the dash, an extra wide shelf holds your cell phone and features a tiny hole made to thread your connector cord for recharging.
Seat warmers provided in the front and the back sure makes passengers feel special. Not only that, the hidden window shades are great for second row observers. The version we drove on Row 2 had arm rests in the captain seats and cup holders that flip out. Other standard second row passenger bennies include: a pocket for papers behind both front row seats, vents for air, and temp control.
For the third row, you can get in and out when you flip the second row seat forward. If there is a weakness to this car, it would be the ease of getting in and out of the last row. It is awkward. If you lose the draw, you sit in the last row! If you need a third row for people all the time, getting a mini van would be better. However, we loved the fact we could fold down the third row flat quite easily and make room for all our bags and foodstuffs.
And don’t forget this is a hybrid car. How are you saving the environment? Well, in eco drive mode, we did get 31.7 mpg on our trip.Anyone can get excellent fuel mileage by abiding to the special ECO MODE meter. Picture a green and white meter, and you want your needle to stay in the green zone to be most fuel efficient.
The vehicle is comfortable and has enough bells and safety whistles to make you dizzy. BTW, love the double panoramic moonroof.
HOWEVER, the third row passengers will be cramped.Furthermore, there should be more USB ports as one is not enough.Other than that, take this info to the dealer to test drive on your own See if it meets your criteria.
Highlander Hybrid SUV