Big, three-row crossovers tend to weigh a lot. That in turn requires powerful propulsion systems, which means using a lot of fuel.
Toyota has a solution: the Highlander Hybrid.
By combining a gasoline V-6 with a brace of electric motors/generators, the spacious Highlander Hybrid delivers class-leading fuel economy at 28 mpg city-highway combined. (The gasoline-only V-6 version manages 20 mpg combined.)
And with 280 horses, there’s no sacrifice in power: Acceleration is strong and smooth, and long highway ascents are easily dispatched.
Despite the Scottish name, the Highlander is a Japanese product through and through.
Based on the Camry midsize sedan, the CUV carries all the hallmarks of the automaker’s products: tight-as-a-tick assembly and superb fit and finish; excellent reliability ratings; and high value retention.
Our top-line Limited Platinum model’s cabin rivaled some true luxury competitors, with excellent comfort in leather-clad seats and generous overlays of soft-touch materials.
The big CUV’s near-silent road manners add to the upscale perception.
Back in the days of 35-cent-a-gallon gasoline, automakers promoted “road-hugging weight” as a attribute. These days, carmakers go to extreme means to cut weight in order to meet or exceed federal-mandated miles per gallon targets – while still meeting crash test standards.
At nearly 5,000 pounds, the Highlander Hybrid’s no lightweight, but that helps deliver a very smooth and serene ride on the highway.
Around corners, though, that porky poundage makes itself felt with a fair amount of body lean.
Even though a refreshed version for 2017 is expected later this year, the current one is well on its way to record annual sales.
The 2016 model delivers plentiful qualities of a caliber not typically associated with Toyota products (except in its Lexus lineup).
Even at $50 grand, that makes it a relative bargain.