2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid review: Astonishingly efficient

Matthew N. Henry

Like a bountiful harvest pouring forth from a horn of plenty, there is certainly no shortage of a few-row SUVs accessible nowadays. The Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are well known solutions, to identify a several, but there is certainly also the Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent and even Volkswagen’s updated 2021 Atlas. Of class, Chevrolet will also happily offer you a Traverse. But if compact motor vehicle-rivaling gas mileage is a precedence then Toyota’s made items uncomplicated. The Japanese automaker’s Highlander Hybrid is genuinely the only choice. 


  • Lexus-like refinement
  • Luxurious inside
  • Outstanding performance

Will not Like

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

The most significant figures

Just how cost-effective is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid? Nicely, engineers made this most current design all over twenty% far more effective than the previous technology, which translates to 36 miles for each gallon metropolis and 35 mpg freeway for a entrance-generate design. Vary-topping Platinum-trim variants with all-wheel generate are a little bit fewer effective, though the difference is, truthfully, negligible. My evaluate device stickers at 35 mpg metropolis, 34 mpg freeway and 35 mpg mixed. In serious-environment use, the excursion pc indicated 31 mpg and transform during screening, which I got with out even striving. If you generate in a far more conservative fashion, you may well even be capable to beat individuals EPA estimates. 

How dominating is the Highlander Hybrid’s fuel-economic climate general performance? Nicely, in comparison, a rear-generate Ford Explorer Hybrid, arguably its only immediate rival, returns a claimed 27 mpg metropolis, 29 mpg freeway and 28 mpg mixed. Get four-wheel generate and individuals figures are even lower, generating this Toyota’s performance scores appear all the far more extraordinary.

You can find a lot of sculpting along the body sides.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Two motors, a person engine

Enabling this SUV to sip fuel like when you choose that very first, tongue-scalding slurp of piping-warm espresso is a acquainted drivetrain. Driving that wide, smiling grille you may discover a two-motor hybrid process developed all over a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. That gasoline-burner is matched to a pair of electric motor-generators that, amongst other items, function as a consistently variable transmission. Full process output clocks in at 243 horsepower, a far more-than-sufficient figure, if rarely a thrilling a person.

It truly is true, I want the Highlander Hybrid experienced a minor far more giddy-up. That drivetrain is mainly sleek and tranquil, though you do know when it can be straining. Give this car or truck the spurs and unmistakable four-cylinder thrum becomes obvious. No, it can be not obtrusive, specially in Limited and Platinum designs, which function laminated entrance-window glass for an even quieter cabin, but you can hear that combustion engine churning away at specific moments.

Highlander Hybrids can tow a modest 3,500 lbs. That need to be enough for a little boat or a few of filth bikes, things like that. Non-hybrid designs are a bit far more capable, capable to drag up to 5,000 lbs.

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

Because it can be a hybrid, this SUV can also be pushed brief distances in electric-only method — emphasis on brief. This is not a plug-in hybrid, so EV vary just isn’t a serious element, but the Highlander can silently motor down your block or waft into the garage with out disturbing anybody. 

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

Aside from hoses and cables, there is certainly not much to see right here.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The softer side

The Highlander’s cabin is very well finished. Even though its dashboard is oddly asymmetrical, the components utilised and overall flexibility are exceptional. My tester has plenty of smooth leather-based, rendered in a hue called Glazed Caramel. It truly is wealthy seeking and exceptional to the vary-topping Platinum design.

Further than all that, there is certainly no shortage of USB ports, the storage cubbies on the dashboard are tremendous useful and the middle-console bin is borderline cavernous, with a caveat. Another person considered it was a very good notion to place the wi-fi-charging plate beneath the middle armrest, which slides away like the lid on a roll-top rated desk. Not only does this structure block access to that middle bin, the pad by itself is too little to accommodate greater handsets in conditions. My Apple iphone 8 Furthermore does not in good shape in the recess, though it even now expenses though tipped up at a slight angle. I have so many thoughts about this style conclusion.

For the most aspect, passenger comfort and ease in the Highlander is a potent issue. Its entrance buckets provide La-Z-Boy stages of cushiness and the next row ain’t too poor, both. Regretably, the third row is a disappointment. Pretty much no autos in this class will comfortably accommodate adult passengers in their rear-most seats for any considerable length of time. But this Toyota’s third-row legroom is the tightest amongst important competition. According to producer-revealed figures, it has almost 6 fewer inches of legroom than a Chevy Traverse, and that is a massive difference.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

The Highlander Hybrid’s cabin is properly developed and well developed.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

In maintaining with the Highlander Hybrid’s polished and properly trimmed cabin, it only can take you about 10 seconds at the rear of the wheel to notice how refined it is. It truly is tranquil, sleek and, in a lot of ways, feels like a Lexus. This vehicle’s journey high quality is supple and the steering is light to the contact but fast enough to make the Highlander appear to be at the very least a minor bit agile.

Technically talking

An infotainment process with a twelve.3-inch touchscreen is accessible. It can be experienced in Limited designs, though it can be common products on the Highlander Platinum. Aside from built-in navigation, it also gets you an 11-speaker JBL audio process, which is loud and obvious.

That display is fairly nice, each crisp and colorful, but I’m not a fan of the computer software that runs on it. Toyota’s multimedia offerings tend to have out-of-date person interfaces and perplexing menus. When it can be not awful, the Highlander’s infotainment array is far more of the exact same. I discover it a bit too sophisticated, it can be not really quite and then there is certainly a unusual smattering of mismatched physical buttons beneath the monitor. At the very least Amazon Alexa compatibility as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are common across the vary, so you only have to use Toyota’s infotainment offerings for as long as it can take to plug your cellphone in.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

This is not my most loved infotainment process around 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Shielding each and every Highlander operator, no matter their price range, Toyota Security Perception 2. is common across all trim stages. This consists of items like automatic substantial beams, adaptive cruise command, targeted traffic sign recognition and lane-departure warning with steering aid. This last merchandise properly retains the Highlander centered in its lane of travel. It truly is really very good, though it appears a tiny bit fewer correct than Honda or Nissan techniques these times. Keyless entry with pushbutton start is common across the board, ditto LED foglights and taillamps. 

Illuminating the darkness, Platinum designs appear with tremendous-vibrant LED adaptive headlights. Not only are they self-leveling, they swivel as you turn the steering wheel to help improve visibility. Rain-sensing windshield wipers are common as well.

Judgement rendered

The Highlander Hybrid is available in four trim stages, each of which can be experienced with both entrance- or all-wheel generate. An entry-degree LE version, the most affordable presenting in the vary, is priced at $39,320, such as $1,120 for spot. As for my top rated-of-the-line Platinum design, it checks out for $52,512, a much steeper figure.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum AWD

You could do considerably worse than the Toyota Highlander.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Suitable now, the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are the shining stars in the a few-row utility-car or truck section. They’re upscale and refined, adaptable and attractive, in addition they present hundreds of tech. These corporate twins are very good at just about anything and, in some ways, far better than this Toyota, even with out accessible hybrid electrical power.

The 2020 Toyota Highlander is an exceptional a few-row crossover, undoubtedly a person of the finest accessible nowadays, specially in hybrid kind, which provides unbeatable fuel performance.

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