One of my gripes about hybrids is that you have to be very light on the throttle to keep the vehicle in EV mode, but Toyota's system for the Highlander Hybrid -- in addition to the new 2010 Prius -- makes it a little easier. Punch the "ECON" button, and the accelerator pedal grows a little more resistant to your right foot. The "EV" button seems to really crank up the resistance, making it easier to keep the Highlander silently rolling along.
Sadly, these buttons don't change the fact that in order to run the Highlander as an EV, you absolutely have to crawl away from stoplights. Depending on your locale, this may irritate your fellow drivers, as I witnessed on three separate occasions. Top speed in electric-only mode is only 25 mph, so those stretches of road near my apartment -- posted at 30 mph and frequently driven at 35 mph by the locals - are impossible to traverse in an eco-friendly fashion.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer