All right ladies and gentlemen, you're here for one reason. You want to pay less for gas, right? But you also want seating for 8 and enough cargo space to carry a small kayak or a couple of office chairs? Oh, and you would prefer a strong safety rating...and enough ground clearance to make it to your favorite camping spot...and can't forget that safety suite. A brand new car without that wouldn't be worth it, right? Wait...that's many more than just one reason.
No matter! What if we told you that one vehicle can satisfy all of those requirements? That's exactly what we're going to do. That vehicle is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
Toyota has made it a priority to offer as much or more standard safety features than competitors, which is why the Highlander comes with all of this at the base LE trim:
Toyota Safety Sense
Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection
Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist
Automatic High Beams
Dynamic Cruise Control
Star Safety System
Electronically Controlled Braking
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management
Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control
Anti-Lock Brake System
Electronic Brake-Force Distribution
Smart Stop Technology
Plus, you get lots of airbags, seatbelt enhancements, Hill Start Assist Control, Engine immobilizer and more. Some of these features contributed to the Highlander's 5-star safety rating. See the full list here.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has top-notch efficiency, reaching 30 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. That's the best you can do with a mid-size, three-row vehicle. What's really mind-blowing is that it's all possible even with a 3.5L, 306-HP gas engine. Even the smaller Nissan Rogue isn't as efficient at 22 city / 33 highway. Diesel alternatives such as the Range Rover Sport Diesel and Grand Cherokee Diesel also underperform against the Highlander, though they have advantages of their own.
Seating and Cargo
The Highlander's efficient capability doesn't come at the expense of space or hauling capacity. Just take a look at the specs.
GVWR: 6,000 lbs
Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs
Seating Capacity: 8
Fuel Capacity: 19.2 gallons
Cargo Capacity (behind front/second-row/third-row): 83.7/42.3/13.8 ft3
Off-Road Capability and Power
Maybe one of the best features of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is its standard AWD-i drivetrain, enabling off-road travel and traction on slippery surfaces. It also has independent MacPherson struts in the front and double-wishbones in the rear, plus stabilizer bars on both ends. Its 306 horsepower engine is powerful enough for most jobs you'll need to handle, and its Ni-MH battery helps you save gas. Plus, it'll get you a few extra miles down the road if you run out of fuel.
$36,270 is the MSRP of the Hybrid LE trim. It's definitely a reasonable price for this awesome new SUV. But don't forget you can have more, if it's what you want. There are two trims above the LE, which are the XLE and the Limited. You can pack even more good stuff into the SUV by opting for the Platinum Package. Even with that particular variation, you'll still only pay around $47,880. Not bad at all.