The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

After debuting nearly a decade ago, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid undergoes its first change, mainly gaining a more potent gasoline engine. The 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 engine, coupled to three electric motors, now puts out a total of 306 horsepower (up by 26) @ 5800 rpm and 215 pounds-feet (down by 2) of torque @ 4800 rpm. The crossover SUV is fitted with a 288-volt nickel-metal hydride battery, which is recharged by energy captured as the driver applies the brakes or coasts. Also, the Continuous Variable Transmission-equipped car gets a regenerative braking system. When the car is coasting or the brakes are applied, the electric power functions as a generator, capturing kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat through the brakes. Instead, it converts the energy into useable electricity for recharging the batteries.
Smoked chrome projector-beam headlights flank a two-bar grille hosting the centered Toyota emblem. The SUV offers cavernous cargo and passenger capacity, allowing for 13.6 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40 third row, 42 cubic feet behind the two second-row Captain chairs (which go aft and forth by 3 inches for easy access to third row as well as get a collapsible side tray with cup holders in center) and 83.2 cubes with both seats folded. The in-dash shelf is handy for small personal belongings. Also, the roll-top center console can comfortably swallow big items out of sight. Other amenities include a tri-zone auto climate control, eight-way driver and four-way power heated/cooled front-passenger seats, wood and silver-painted satin and chrome accents, and power lift gate and moon roof.
Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle stability and traction control systems, front active headrests, front/rear crumple zones, push-button start, rear parking sensor and camera, hill start assist, blind spot, rear-cross traffic and lane-departure alert systems, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
During the week we test drove the Highlander Hybrid, we earned the EPA-estimated 28 mpg in combined city/highway driving. The price, of course, is astronomical at $49,579. However, the practical and delightful midsize crossover can accommodate up to eight passengers in comfort. Besides, the vehicle comes with the solid reputation for reliability and durability enjoyed by Toyota.

Tires: P245/55R19
Wheelbase: 109.8 inches
Length: 192.5 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front; double wishbone rear
Steering: electric power
Tow capacity: 3,500 pounds
Weight: 4,965 pounds
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gallons
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