Its exterior style is a pleasing vanilla flavor, but you'll even more quickly forget about it once inside. Efficient interior packaging yields a roomy space that provides exceptional long-distance comfort for those in the first two rows. Reclining second-row chairs combined with low levels of wind and road noise let passengers arrive at the end of a day's drive with almost no road fatigue.
Handsome wood-grained trim of the Limited model we drove stands out from an otherwise monotone interior. Scores for fit, finish, and function are all high. The only major fault is the third row two-passenger bench. It's cramped and best forgotten about except when a pair of primordial dwarfs happen to be traveling with your party of five regular-sized people.
Driving The Highlander Hybrid
Performance from the hybrid's 3.3-liter V-6 hybrid powertrain stands out for commendation. With a combined horsepower rating of 270, the figure doesn't do the Highlander justice. The hybrid system's electric motors (in the transmission and rear differential) add considerable torque to the equation, so instant acceleration comes easily. This crossover feels fast. Maintaining an 80 mph interstate cruise is likewise a cakewalk.
At these speeds, the Highlander's soft ride coddles passengers in the way only luxury cars used to. Because the transmission doesn't use conventional fixed gears, the sense of smoothness is enhanced. Calling for extra power doesn't instigate a jarring downshift. The V-6 engine in the Highlander Hybrid simply revs faster to provide more power.
In a recent 1,100 mile trip with a good mix of interstate and city driving, overall mileage was 24.4 mpg. It was this figure that got us thinking...