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.
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.
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.
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.