First Drive 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Autos ca

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Toyota Highlander Electric Cars

October 4, 2010

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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Gravenhurst, Ontario – For people who want the space offered by a midsize SUV, but not the fuel consumption that comes with most midsized SUVs, there are few alternatives to the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

There are larger hybrid SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon, more expensive hybrids like the Lexus RX 450h, Cadillac Escalade and, more recently, the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid and BMW ActiveHybrid X6, or smaller SUV hybrids such as the Ford Escape and the no-longer-available Saturn Vue.

But the Toyota Highlander has been and continues to be the only hybrid SUV with seating for seven, the fuel consumption of a compact car and a price that is not beyond the reach of most mid-size SUV buyers.

For 2011, the gasoline-electric Toyota Highlander Hybrid and its conventional gasoline-powered Toyota Highlander sibling receive a major mid-term facelift and improved standard and optional equipment. The Hybrid also receives a new 3.5-litre engine with improved power and efficiency, while the gas-powered Highlander gets a new six-speed automatic transmission.

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Toyota Highlander Electric Cars

The Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5-litre engine uses an Atkinson cycle, as before, which reduces intake and exhaust energy losses. A new exhaust gas recirculation system also improves efficiency, while a cooled exhaust heat recovery system improves cold-weather performance. For 2011, the Highlander Hybrid’s Energuide rating improves marginally: 6.6 L/100 km in city driving and 7.3 L/100 km on the highway, an improvement of about 10 per cent from 2010.


Yes, the hybrid gets better mileage in the city than on the highway.

The Highlander has a full-time four-wheel drive system in which the gasoline engine drives both the front and rear wheels and divides torque between the front and rear axles depending on driving conditions. In contrast, in the Highlander Hybrid, the gasoline engine and an electric motor drive the front wheels. If front-wheel slip is detected, a dedicated rear electric motor provides power to the rear wheels for additional traction.

2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Changes to all Highlander models for the 2011 model year include standard 50/50 split third-row seat for seven-passenger seating, standard rear-seat heating and ventilation controls, standard automatic headlight system, and Bluetooth capability on all but the four-cylinder base Highlander. A voice-activated navigation system is standard on Highlander Limited and Hybrid Limited, while XM satellite radio is standard on all but the four-cylinder base model.

Despite higher fuel prices, Canadians still prefer larger SUVs. The Highlander Hybrid makes this choice less painful. Until other manufacturers step up and offer consumers more fuel-efficient choices in larger SUVs, it would appear that Toyota’s dominance in the hybrid segment, as well as the hybrid price premium, will continue.

Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars
Toyota Highlander Electric Cars

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