A Look At The 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Improvements are constantly being made to Hybrid cars on the market, and the 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is no exception. The Highlander Hybrid has improvements outside, inside and under the hood to provide better performance and visual appeal for the consumer.

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Exterior

The Highlander Hybrid has an estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon. Permanent magnet motors to drive all four wheels, a sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack and an electronically maintained, continuously shifting transmission work with a 3.5-litre V-6 engine to provide a total of 280 horsepower. Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid electronically varies the torque throughout the car depending on present traction conditions. Also, with motors independently driving the front and rear axles, the need for a driveshaft connection between the two axles is negated. Also, a switch on the front middle console permits the operator to opt for operation using only the electric power in the vehicle.

The first motor generator in the Highlander Hybrid handles the generator, engine starter and transmission ratio control, with maximum voltage at 650V. The second motor generator drives the front wheels and provides 247 lb.-ft of torque, while the third rear motor generator that drives the rear wheels provides 96 lb.-ft of torque.

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Synergy Drive

The Highlander Hybrid is available in both a Base package and a Limited package. The Limited package adds multiple-stage heated front seats, a Smart Key system with push button start and remote illuminated entry, a steering wheel featuring leather trim and audio, climate, phone and voice control buttons, more leather trim and a rearview mirror with auto-dimming features.

The Highlander Hybrid comes in Predawn Gray Mica, Shoreline Blue Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Sizzling Crimson Mica, Blizzard Pearl and Black. The interior seats seven and offers fabric-trimmed seats with the ability to fold seats flat, slide to adjust as necessary and adjust headrests. The first row middle console holds up to six cups and has a storage area for the second row Center Stow seat or Center Stow center console. An overhead console includes a conversation mirror, map lights and a sunglasses holder.

In addition to attractive color schemes, the exterior of the Hybrid has a rear window with electric defogger, an in-glass antenna on the rear quarter panel window, projector-beam headlamps with an auto on/off feature that are blue-tinted, fog lamps, black roof rails and a lift-up glass hatch. Aluminum alloy wheels with all-season steel-belted radial tires add to the visual appeal and the handling of the vehicle. Color-keyed bumpers, door handles along with a rear spoiler that also has an LED center high-mount stop lamp continue the theme of style and utility. Outside mirrors are heated with a folding feature, and in the Limited package, the mirrors are also color-keyed. The Limited package adds chrome accents and bigger wheels (19-inch, 10 spoke, in contrast to the 17-inch, seven spoke alloy wheels on the Base model). A power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade and Smart Entry, as well as a power liftgate, add additional appeal to the Limited package in terms of ease of entry.

For entertainment in the Highlander Hybrid, the 6.1-inch Display Audio is standard for the Entune, a connection to Pandora, Bing and programs to make dinner reservations or snag those last two movie tickets, all while on the move. The display also shows footage from the back-up camera, which comes standard. The Limited package adds a three-month trial subscription to the XM Select Package of Sirius Satellite Radio for additional listening options, and it also has a back-row DVD entertainment package featuring a nine-inch display, back seat audio and two headphones. This makes a great distraction for younger travelers when the miles start adding up.

2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Interior

Six speakers in the Base package and nine JBL speakers in the Limited package provide quality sound throughout the vehicle. Music streaming via Bluetooth is an option, as is the use of an iPod through the USB port. The Limited package also has the option of HD Radio TM with iTunes tagging. The need to find a new station numerous times throughout a family vacation or long business trip has become a distant memory.

Integrated speakers, a storage pocket and 10 cupholders and four bottle holders make the doors more than just the entry and exit points. The second row seating has reading lamps, and there is a front and rear air conditioning system that has a filter and vents for the second and third-row seats.

All Highlander models come standard with a back-up camera and Hill Start Assist Control, as well as the standard Traction Control system, electronic steering, ABS, intelligent stop system and Vehicle Stability Control. Three-point seatbelts at all seating positions, triple-row roll-sensing side curtain airbags and LATCH system locations on the 2nd row seating keeps passengers of all ages secure during transit. An Advanced Airbag System, a driver’s knee airbag and driver and passenger seat-installed sidebar airbags add to the measures intended to prevent serious injury in case of an accident. Active head rests for both driver and front passenger and a collapsible steering column also are included to contribute to passenger protection.

In addition, a Direct-type Tire Pressure Monitor System, driver and front passenger seatbelt pretensioners that feature force limiters, side impact door beams and front and back row impact-absorbing crumple zones and energy-dissipating interior trim all work toward avoiding an accident or providing the best protection available in the case that an accident occurs. Meanwhile, an anti-theft system with an alarm and engine immobilizer protect against potential theft and vehicle loss both at home and away.

The Hybrid comes with On-Demand four-wheel drive with intelligence (4WD-i), 4-wheel independent strut suspension featuring front and back stabilizer bars, Electric Power Steering and an Electronically Controlled Braking System with power-assisted ventilated front brakes and solid rear disc brakes. These features mean not only assistance for the driver but also the reassurance that traveling in electric mode won’t affect any areas of the vehicle’s performance.

The base price tag for a Highlander Hybrid begins at $39,970. This is comparable to a BMW ActiveHybrid X6 at $88,900 and a Ford Fusion Energi at $38,700.

2013 Honda Insight Review

The 2013 Honda Insight is back at it again after going through a bumper to bumper change in 2010. Similar to the 2012 model, it still has a very spacious interior, a multi-tasking hatchback design, an easy to drive design and a industry-recognized acceptable maintenance and ownership cost. Falling back on further 2012 attributes this model from Honda is still the best hybrid deal on the market in America. The 2013 Honda Insight is also priced the same as the 2012 model, at $18,500, giving you, the consumer, an even better deal for Honda’s hybrid model.

Looking at the 2013 Insight, there are three different trim models, the Base, LX and EX. While the base model is geared towards budget conscious consumers, it is not lacking in any features. The Base model has hands-free climate control, power windows and a generous and rich-sounding 160 watt speaker system. The mid-level, the LX trim model has everything the Base does and adds a console with armrests, a security system, audio controls that are fully adjustable from the steering-wheel, heavy-duty floor mats, cruise control, and a USB port that works to charge electronics or accept data for your audio and GPS systems. The top-of-the-line model, the EX trim, builds on the LX’s features and has a rich six-speaker audio system, mirrors with built-in heaters and lighted turn signals, alloy wheels, Bluetooth ®  for cellphones, navigation systems and even Internet services. The LX also has daytime running headlights, leather-encased steering wheel, a rearview camera, and an optional voice-recognition navigation system that provides operators with on-demand satellite-based directions.

When it comes to the 2013 Honda Insight’s powertrain, power and responsiveness are taken care of perfectly. Since the Insight is a hybrid, its engine features a 1.3-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, capable of producing 98 horsepower and 123 lb-ft or torque. It is complemented by a 10-kilowatt electric engine that is chargeable at home or on the road through passive kinetic energy. Every model features Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), a technologically advanced transmission systems that utilizes a next generation transmissions system with variable pulleys instead of gears found in earlier Honda transmissions. This car is specifically engineered with Honda’s Drive-by-Wire™ proprietary system that works hand in hand with the CVT to give the operator the most efficient drive ratio possible. Customers who choose the EX trim, receive a steering wheel with paddle shifters. This system permits the operator to personally shift through a series of 7 fixed ratios for a comfortable and responsive drive. Customers can also rest easy about the environment and their wallets with the built-in Eco Assist™ that Honda engineers into every 2013 Insight engine.

When it comes to Honda’s 2013 Honda Insight, its body and chassis are not lacking in any respect. Building on improvements from past years, its grill is further refined, featuring a blue accented bar that embodies the Insight’s hybrid soul. It has become more and more aerodynamic because its front wheels have been extended more; this enables air to have less drag on the Insight, giving it better fuel efficiency around the front tires. The engine’s bay design underbody cover was also refined and air diffuser are installed beneath the back bumper to round out airflow at the rear of the car. These adjustments, together, add up to a 2-percent bump in aerodynamic performance. When it comes to the chassis, the Insight is built on a MacPherson strut front suspension and is combined with a torsion-beam rear suspension. This coupling gives occupants of the Insights the most space possible. The Insight also features 15-inch steel wheels that have covers on the Base and LX models, while the EX model has 15-inch alloy wheels. All models have a 36.1-foot turn diameter which gives it responsive maneuverability in the city or the country. All models of the Insight also have electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion power steering (EPS); this offers a reliable and steady steering mechanism. This power steering also enables the Insight to provide its drivers greater fuel efficiency.

Looking inside, you will see the 2013 Honda Insight has not given up one interior comfort or feature. Along with its ability to have the driver and as many as five occupants in the car in comfort, there is still ample cargo room with its 31.5 cubic feet of space. This massive cargo space is due to its back seatbacks that split 60/40. While driving, the operator and front passenger alike will have information on the vehicle’s status with its futuristic and informative instrument panel layout. The Multi-Information Display (MID) permits instant access to all gauges on the dash and through its easy to access steering-wheel mounted controls. The LX trim has top-notch seat fabric, the EX trim features a hybrid faux leather and premium fabric for the upholstery. All trim models have automatically controlled climate control. Optional upgrades on the EX include Honda’s Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ that works on voice commands, has a rearview backup camera and has on-demand navigation system that works with over seven-million destinations all over the United States.

2013 Honda Insight Interior

No matter what Insight trim level you purchase, safety has not been sacrificed. Some notable safety features include two-stage, multi-threshold driver and passenger airbags. It also has front-side airbags with a standard passive passenger-side position detection system. Other standard features include anti-lock brakes, front head restraints, a specially designed front body structure to help minimize pedestrian injuries. There is also a proprietary body design (Honda only) that enables increased passenger and driver protection against different types of car crashes. Further safety features include anti-lock brakes with Honda’s electronic brake distribution (EBD), a side-curtain airbag system, and active head restraints for both the operator and front passenger. The 2013 Honda Insight was also rated a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It earned this rating because it passed the IIHS’ side and front impact tests, its rollover tests and the Insights’s ability to protect against neck injuries in rear impacts. This car earned the “Top Safety Pick” because it rated “good,” which is the best possible rating by this rating agency’s crash tests.


2013 Hybrid Vehicles

The 2013 model year for hybrid vehicles is certainly showing much more innovation and growth within this budding and sometimes questioned market. The following article is going to first define what a hybrid vehicle is and then segue into some past highlights of the evolution of hybrid vehicles. It will then focus on some 2013 hybrid vehicle models, note some highlights and touch on some speculation for what the future holds for hybrid vehicles.

How a hybrid car works

To learn about the 2013 models, it is essential to learn what exactly a hybrid vehicle is. A hybrid-electric vehicle features the best attributes of a gasoline engine and an electric motor to give the owner the best possible utilization of fuel. The engine gives the hybrid vehicle the vast majority of its power, while the electric motor provides a complimentary source of power when needed. Complimentary power is used for things such as for passing cars and accelerating the car. This hybrid design enables a normal size car to have a more fuel-efficient utilization. The electric power is generated through regenerative braking and from the power generated from the gasoline engine; this enables a hybrid car to benefit from the added electricity, but saves the user from having to plug it in at home or at a charging station.

If you think hybrid vehicles are a new innovation, you would be surprised that hybrid vehicles have had their start over 300 years, starting in 1665. However, you have only heard of hybrid vehicles in the last 15 to 20 years because they have become economically viable and profitable in this time-frame. Toyota and Honda were the trailblazers of the modern hybrid car movement with the Insight and Prius respectively. These two models established hybrids in the modern age and still are popular, relatively speaking, in the hybrid market. Today, more than 20 years later, Toyota and Honda are still leaders in innovation in the hybrid market, including their respective models for the 2013 model year. Almost a decade later, in 2005, Ford introduced and still produces the Ford Escape Hybrid as the industry’s first large-scale hybrid sport utility vehicle. Industry insiders credit Ford and Toyota swapping patents for their hybrid technology and diesel engine technology respectively. Therefore, Toyota, through the innovations at Ford, has continually impacted the hybrid market.

Before highlighting some of 2013’s hybrid models, it is essential to give a primer on the general background of, the different aspects and the attributes to think about before deciding which hybrid vehicle to purchase. When looking for a hybrid vehicle, you will have your option of a tiny two-seater all the way up to a massive nine-passenger SUV. Depending on which model you look at, it might be a spin-off of an existing conventional model or it might be a totally organic design unique to the entire auto market.

Similar to conventional cars, prices for hybrid cars vary quite extensively. On average, a hybrid vehicle might cost you more than 20 percent more than a conventional gas engine car. However, there are various federal and/or state tax credits, so there might not be as much sticker shock if you are aware of this. Depending on the make, model, features and general automotive attributes, a hybrid cost can run you anywhere from the low $20,000s to well above $100,000.

When it comes to hybrids’ engines and their respective fuel economy, there are two competing types of engines. With pure hybrids, there is an increased level of gas mileage of approximately 40 to 50 miles per gallon. The other type of hybrid is a mild hybrid. A mild hybrid delivers less fuel efficiency because it has less efficient hybrid technology.

Comparing safety of hybrid cars to conventional gas engine cars, there is virtually no difference when it comes to safety issues. Hybrids do have a slightly increased risk of chemical spills and electric shocks after a car is involved in an accident. Yet, since consumers have been driving hybrids for many years now, there have been no real world experience with either potential hybrid-related risk. Normally, a hybrid loses between three to five cubic feet of trunk space because the battery bank is normally placed in that area. Additionally, storage space beneath the cargo floor will be lost because of the battery pack too.

Now that we have covered the basics and some specific information related to different attributes and segments of 2013 hybrid models, we can now segue into discussing some 2013 models. Since the Toyota Prius started the hybrid craze, it is only right to pay homage to the 2013 Toyota Prius. The top pick by industry insiders and car enthusiasts alike is the 2013 Toyota Prius. The 2013 model still gets the best fuel economy rating of 51 and 48 miles per gallon in the city and on the highway respectively. Its hatchback design gives the driver ample room for both passengers and storage space – you also get rear-seat legroom! Drawbacks include ultra-responsive steering and soft-handling attributes. The price, along with the federal and/or state tax credits, makes the Prius an overall good value.

2013 Toyota Prius

A domestic competitor to the Prius is the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Drivers of this car get a spacious and cost effective vehicle that still gets a reasonable, but less than the Prius’ fuel economy rating. The Fusion hybrid only gets 41 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway. Additional features include its Sync voice-directed system, climate control and rear park-assist system. While there is enough room to fit a piece of luggage or two in the back, the batter pack in the trunk hinders maximum trunk capacity.

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

As one can see, hybrids are the next generation of cars, especially when it comes to fuel efficiency. Only time will tell if hybrids will be a car of the future or simply a stepping stone to a complete electric car. While we don’t know what the future holds, hybrid cards certainly offer the consumer a more fuel efficient option for only a bit more than a conventional car.