2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid review: Astonishingly efficient

Like a bountiful harvest pouring forth from a horn of a good deal, there is

Like a bountiful harvest pouring forth from a horn of a good deal, there is no lack of 3-row SUVs out there now. The Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are well known options, to title a couple of, but there is also the Mazda CX-nine, Subaru Ascent and even Volkswagen’s updated 2021 Atlas. Of system, Chevrolet will also fortunately offer you a Traverse. But if compact motor vehicle-rivaling gasoline mileage is a priority then Toyota’s built issues easy. The Japanese automaker’s Highlander Hybrid is definitely the only option. 


  • Lexus-like refinement
  • Luxurious inside
  • Exceptional efficiency

Never Like

  • Curious placement of wireless charger
  • Uninspired infotainment process
  • Compact third-row seat

The most important figures

Just how affordable is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid? Effectively, engineers built this most up-to-date model close to twenty% far more effective than the preceding generation, which interprets to 36 miles per gallon metropolis and 35 mpg freeway for a entrance-push model. Array-topping Platinum-trim variants with all-wheel push are slightly significantly less effective, however the big difference is, actually, negligible. My evaluation unit stickers at 35 mpg metropolis, 34 mpg freeway and 35 mpg put together. In actual-world use, the excursion pc indicated 31 mpg and change for the duration of screening, which I acquired without even making an attempt. If you push in a far more conservative manner, you may well even be ready to beat people EPA estimates. 

How dominating is the Highlander Hybrid’s gasoline-economic climate general performance? Effectively, in comparison, a rear-push Ford Explorer Hybrid, arguably its only immediate rival, returns a claimed 27 mpg metropolis, 29 mpg freeway and 28 mpg put together. Grab four-wheel push and people figures are even reduce, producing this Toyota’s efficiency scores glance all the far more impressive.

There is a great deal of sculpting alongside the system sides.

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Two motors, a person motor

Enabling this SUV to sip gasoline like when you get that to start with, tongue-scalding slurp of piping-very hot coffee is a familiar drivetrain. Guiding that broad, smiling grille you can discover a two-motor hybrid process crafted close to a two.five-liter four-cylinder motor. That gasoline-burner is matched to a pair of electrical motor-turbines that, amid other issues, function as a consistently variable transmission. Full process output clocks in at 243 horsepower, a far more-than-ample determine, if barely a thrilling a person.

It’s genuine, I desire the Highlander Hybrid experienced a minimal far more giddy-up. That drivetrain is primarily easy and tranquil, however you do know when it truly is straining. Give this motor vehicle the spurs and unmistakable four-cylinder thrum will become obvious. No, it truly is not obtrusive, particularly in Confined and Platinum types, which feature laminated entrance-window glass for an even quieter cabin, but you can hear that combustion motor churning absent at sure periods.

Highlander Hybrids can tow a modest 3,500 pounds. That need to be adequate for a modest boat or a couple of grime bikes, stuff like that. Non-hybrid types are a bit far more capable, ready to drag up to five,000 pounds.

When shedding velocity, the Highlander Hybrid’s brakes are easy to modulate and the pedal feels very good below your tootsies. Regenerative braking, which puts electrons back into the battery pack for use later on, is easy, and the changeover to friction braking just about seamless.

Because it truly is a hybrid, this SUV can also be pushed shorter distances in electrical-only method — emphasis on shorter. This is not a plug-in hybrid, so EV array is not a actual component, but the Highlander can silently motor down your block or waft into the garage without disturbing anyone. 

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

Apart from hoses and cables, there is not considerably to see below.

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The softer aspect

The Highlander’s cabin is very nicely completed. Even however its dashboard is oddly asymmetrical, the elements used and total flexibility are excellent. My tester has a good deal of tender leather, rendered in a hue identified as Glazed Caramel. It’s prosperous wanting and exceptional to the array-topping Platinum model.

Beyond all that, there is no lack of USB ports, the storage cubbies on the dashboard are super useful and the center-console bin is borderline cavernous, with a caveat. Another person assumed it was a very good strategy to set the wireless-charging plate underneath the center armrest, which slides absent like the lid on a roll-leading desk. Not only does this structure block obtain to that center bin, the pad itself is too modest to accommodate bigger handsets in situations. My Apple iphone eight Plus doesn’t healthy in the recess, however it nevertheless rates though tipped up at a slight angle. I have so a lot of thoughts about this style decision.

For the most portion, passenger comfort and ease in the Highlander is a potent issue. Its entrance buckets supply La-Z-Boy concentrations of cushiness and the second row ain’t too negative, either. Sadly, the third row is a disappointment. Just about no automobiles in this course will easily accommodate adult travellers in their rear-most seats for any significant length of time. But this Toyota’s third-row legroom is the tightest amid big opponents. According to maker-posted figures, it has approximately 6 fewer inches of legroom than a Chevy Traverse, and that is a enormous big difference.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

The Highlander Hybrid’s cabin is properly made and nicely crafted.

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In retaining with the Highlander Hybrid’s polished and properly trimmed cabin, it only will take you about 10 seconds driving the wheel to realize how refined it is. It’s tranquil, easy and, in a great deal of strategies, feels like a Lexus. This vehicle’s ride excellent is supple and the steering is light-weight to the touch but rapid adequate to make the Highlander seem at minimum a minimal bit agile.

Technically talking

An infotainment process with a 12.3-inch touchscreen is out there. It can be experienced in Confined types, however it truly is typical equipment on the Highlander Platinum. Apart from built-in navigation, it also receives you an eleven-speaker JBL audio process, which is loud and apparent.

That display screen is quite pleasant, each crisp and colorful, but I am not a lover of the computer software that operates on it. Toyota’s multimedia choices have a tendency to have outdated consumer interfaces and puzzling menus. While it truly is not terrible, the Highlander’s infotainment array is far more of the very same. I discover it a bit too difficult, it truly is not quite really and then there is a strange smattering of mismatched physical buttons underneath the monitor. At minimum Amazon Alexa compatibility as nicely as Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are typical across the array, so you only have to use Toyota’s infotainment choices for as extensive as it will take to plug your cellular phone in.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

This is not my favored infotainment process around 

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Guarding each individual Highlander operator, no make a difference their funds, Toyota Protection Sense two. is typical across all trim concentrations. This contains issues like automatic higher beams, adaptive cruise management, website traffic indicator recognition and lane-departure warning with steering guide. This previous merchandise properly retains the Highlander centered in its lane of travel. It’s quite very good, however it appears a very small bit significantly less correct than Honda or Nissan programs these days. Keyless entry with pushbutton get started is typical across the board, ditto LED foglights and taillamps. 

Illuminating the darkness, Platinum types arrive with super-vivid LED adaptive headlights. Not only are they self-leveling, they swivel as you change the steering wheel to help improve visibility. Rain-sensing windshield wipers are typical as nicely.

Judgement rendered

The Highlander Hybrid is made available in four trim concentrations, each of which can be experienced with either entrance- or all-wheel push. An entry-degree LE model, the most inexpensive presenting in the array, is priced at $39,320, which include $1,a hundred and twenty for destination. As for my leading-of-the-line Platinum model, it checks out for $fifty two,512, a considerably steeper determine.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

You could do far even worse than the Toyota Highlander.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Correct now, the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are the shining stars in the 3-row utility-motor vehicle section. They are upscale and refined, versatile and elegant, additionally they provide hundreds of tech. These corporate twins are very good at just about almost everything and, in some strategies, improved than this Toyota, even without out there hybrid energy.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is an excellent 3-row crossover, surely a person of the best out there now, particularly in hybrid type, which features unbeatable gasoline efficiency.