2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid review: Astonishingly efficient

    Like a bountiful harvest pouring forth from a horn of lots, there isn’t any scarcity of three-row SUVs obtainable at this time. The Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are standard choices, to call a number of, however there’s additionally the Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent and even Volkswagen’s up to date 2021 Atlas. Of course, Chevrolet can even fortunately promote you a Traverse. But if compact car-rivaling gasoline mileage is a precedence then Toyota’s made issues straightforward. The Japanese automaker’s Highlander Hybrid is actually the one alternative. 

    LikeLexus-like refinementLuxurious interiorSuperb effectivity

    Don’t LikeCurious placement of wi-fi chargerUninspired infotainment systemSmall third-row seat

    The most essential numbersJust how economical is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid? Well, engineers made this newest mannequin round 20% extra environment friendly than the earlier technology, which interprets to 36 miles per gallon metropolis and 35 mpg freeway for a front-drive mannequin. Range-topping Platinum-trim variants with all-wheel drive are barely much less environment friendly, although the distinction is, actually, negligible. My assessment unit stickers at 35 mpg metropolis, 34 mpg freeway and 35 mpg mixed. In real-world use, the journey pc indicated 31 mpg and alter throughout testing, which I received with out even attempting. If you drive in a extra conservative method, you would possibly even be capable to beat these EPA estimates. How dominating is the Highlander Hybrid’s fuel-economy efficiency? Well, compared, a rear-drive Ford Explorer Hybrid, arguably its solely direct rival, returns a claimed 27 mpg metropolis, 29 mpg freeway and 28 mpg mixed. Grab four-wheel drive and people figures are even decrease, making this Toyota’s effectivity scores look all of the extra spectacular.

    There’s lots of sculpting alongside the physique sides.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Two motors, one engineEnabling this SUV to sip gasoline like once you take that first, tongue-scalding slurp of piping-hot espresso is a well-known drivetrain. Behind that broad, smiling grille you will discover a two-motor hybrid system constructed round a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. That gasoline-burner is matched to a pair of electrical motor-generators that, amongst different issues, operate as a repeatedly variable transmission. Total system output clocks in at 243 horsepower, a more-than-adequate determine, if hardly an exhilarating one.It’s true, I want the Highlander Hybrid had just a little extra giddy-up. That drivetrain is generally easy and quiet, although you do know when it is straining. Give this automobile the spurs and unmistakable four-cylinder thrum turns into obvious. No, it is not obtrusive, particularly in Limited and Platinum fashions, which characteristic laminated front-window glass for a good quieter cabin, however you may hear that combustion engine churning away at sure occasions.

    The 2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is environment friendly and upscale
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    Highlander Hybrids can tow a modest 3,500 kilos. That ought to be sufficient for a small boat or a few filth bikes, stuff like that. Non-hybrid fashions are a bit extra succesful, in a position to drag as much as 5,000 kilos.

    When shedding pace, the Highlander Hybrid’s brakes are straightforward to modulate and the pedal feels good underneath your tootsies. Regenerative braking, which places electrons again into the battery pack to be used later, is easy, and the transition to friction braking nearly seamless.Since it is a hybrid, this SUV can be pushed brief distances in electric-only mode — emphasis on brief. This is just not a plug-in hybrid, so EV vary is not an actual issue, however the Highlander can silently motor down your block or waft into the storage with out disturbing anybody. Aside from hoses and cables, there’s not a lot to see right here.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    The softer facetThe Highlander’s cabin is extraordinarily properly accomplished. Even although its dashboard is oddly asymmetrical, the supplies used and general versatility are wonderful. My tester has loads of gentle leather-based, rendered in a hue known as Glazed Caramel. It’s wealthy trying and unique to the range-topping Platinum mannequin.Beyond all that, there isn’t any scarcity of USB ports, the storage cubbies on the dashboard are tremendous useful and the center-console bin is borderline cavernous, with a caveat. Someone thought it was a good suggestion to place the wireless-charging plate beneath the middle armrest, which slides away just like the lid on a roll-top desk. Not solely does this structure block entry to that middle bin, the pad itself is simply too small to accommodate bigger handsets in circumstances. My iPhone 8 Plus would not match within the recess, although it nonetheless costs whereas tipped up at a slight angle. I’ve so many questions on this design determination.For probably the most half, passenger consolation within the Highlander is a powerful level. Its entrance buckets present La-Z-Boy ranges of cushiness and the second row ain’t too dangerous, both. Unfortunately, the third row is a disappointment. Almost no autos on this class will comfortably accommodate grownup passengers of their rear-most seats for any vital size of time. But this Toyota’s third-row legroom is the tightest amongst main opponents. According to manufacturer-published figures, it has practically six fewer inches of legroom than a Chevy Traverse, and that may be a enormous distinction.The Highlander Hybrid’s cabin is properly designed and properly constructed.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    In retaining with the Highlander Hybrid’s polished and properly trimmed cabin, it solely takes you about 10 seconds behind the wheel to appreciate how refined it’s. It’s quiet, easy and, in lots of methods, appears like a Lexus. This automobile’s trip high quality is supple and the steering is gentle to the contact however fast sufficient to make the Highlander appear not less than just a little bit agile.Technically talkingAn infotainment system with a 12.3-inch touchscreen is offered. It might be had in Limited fashions, although it is commonplace tools on the Highlander Platinum. Aside from built-in navigation, it additionally will get you an 11-speaker JBL sound system, which is loud and clear.That show is kind of good, each crisp and colourful, however I’m not a fan of the software program that runs on it. Toyota’s multimedia choices are likely to have outdated consumer interfaces and complicated menus. While it is not horrible, the Highlander’s infotainment array is extra of the identical. I discover it a bit too difficult, it is not very fairly after which there is a bizarre smattering of mismatched bodily buttons beneath the display. At least Amazon Alexa compatibility in addition to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are commonplace throughout the vary, so that you solely have to make use of Toyota’s infotainment choices for so long as it takes to plug your cellphone in.This is just not my favourite infotainment system round 
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Protecting each Highlander proprietor, irrespective of their funds, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is commonplace throughout all trim ranges. This contains issues like automated excessive beams, adaptive cruise management, site visitors signal recognition and lane-departure warning with steering help. This final merchandise successfully retains the Highlander centered in its lane of journey. It’s superb, although it appears a tiny bit much less correct than Honda or Nissan methods nowadays. Keyless entry with pushbutton begin is commonplace throughout the board, ditto LED foglights and taillamps. Illuminating the darkness, Platinum fashions include super-bright LED adaptive headlights. Not solely are they self-leveling, they swivel as you flip the steering wheel to assist enhance visibility. Rain-sensing windshield wipers are commonplace as properly.Judgement renderedThe Highlander Hybrid is obtainable in 4 trim ranges, every of which might be had with both front- or all-wheel drive. An entry-level LE model, probably the most reasonably priced providing within the vary, is priced at $39,320, together with $1,120 for vacation spot. As for my top-of-the-line Platinum mannequin, it checks out for $52,512, a a lot steeper determine.You may do far worse than the Toyota Highlander.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Right now, the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride are the shining stars within the three-row utility-vehicle phase. They’re upscale and refined, versatile and trendy, plus they provide a great deal of tech. These company twins are good at nearly every little thing and, in some methods, higher than this Toyota, even with out obtainable hybrid energy.The 2020 Toyota Highlander is a wonderful three-row crossover, actually probably the greatest obtainable at this time, particularly in hybrid type, which presents unbeatable gasoline effectivity.

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