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2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review
Hybrid fuel economy plus passenger comfort.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid marks the first hybrid to offer four-wheel drive, seating for seven, and an abundance of power. The Highlander Hybrid’s power reaches even higher than that of the Highlander gasoline model. This midsize crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) is very flexible and builds on the Toyota Camry platform. The 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid offers good fuel economy and performance, and the second and third row seats add flexibility to the vehicle that attracts families and singles alike.
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6 engine and electric motor
Transmissions: continuously variable transmission (CVT)
Models: Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
The 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid marks the second generation for this line. Since its redesign in 2008, it received a larger engine to replace the 3.3-liter engine. Other tweaks have resulted in a two mpg increase over the 2010 model and an additional 10 horsepower.
Other improvements include updated styling and more standard features. Toyota also adds some features to distinguish the hybrid from the gasoline model, such as a special grille and front bumper and color-keyed rocker panels with chrome accents. The headlights and taillights have a light blue tint. The third seat abandons the single bench seat style for a 50/50-split folding seat.
Exterior standard features for the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid include 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, daytime running lights, and a rear-view camera. The Limited trim adds 19-inch wheels, keyless remote entry/ignition, a power liftgate, a sunroof, silver roof rails, and vertically stacked fog lights. If you live in colder climates, you can get the optional Cold Weather package, which includes heated side-view mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. The optional Leather package adds an automatic dimming rear-view mirror.
The exterior is sleek and classy, with body-colored front and rear bumpers and chrome trim on the grille. The thinner headlights and taillights appear to have a wraparound design.
The 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a sizeable number of standard features for the base model. The base model offers cruise control, an air-conditioner with rear controls, a sliding/folding 40/20/40-split second row seat with a removable center section, a 50/50-split folding third row seat, Bluetooth, auxiliary audio connectivity, iPod and USB connectivity, and a CD player with satellite radio. The Limited trim adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a navigation system, and a dual-climate-control system. The Limited also has an upgraded JBL sound system and a rear-seat entertainment system.
The cabin of this SUV crossover is clean and attractive, with a deep-set instrument panel in the cockpit. This seven-seat model has easy-to-see and easy-to-use controls. The upholstery cleans easily in case of accidental spills, and owners can access the cargo area without trouble. The cargo area provides 94 cubic feet of storage space with the second and third row seats folded down. The storage space behind the second row seat provides 42 cubic feet.
The third row seat does not offer much legroom for average-size and tall adults. It comfortably can seat children and adults of smaller stature.
Performance & Handling
The 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is nimble, but the handling proves sluggish. The four-wheel independent suspension system includes Macpherson struts in front and a dual-link rear strut rear suspension system. Even with the stiffer suspension, the ride remains comfortable. This car comes with either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive (AWD). A separate electric motor powers the four-wheel drive system, giving the car a total of three motors. This car has a sprint time of zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, and it can tow up to 3,500 pounds. While the two-wheel drive model performs well, the AWD seems sluggish.
The cabin remains quiet, with engine noise being only an electric hum that passengers barely can hear when the gas engine shuts off. This car allows you to transition seamlessly between gas and electric modes to maximize efficiency. You can select the EV mode to propel the Highlander for short distances at low speeds on battery power alone, or press the Econ button to temper throttle response for fuel economy improvement.
The standard safety features for the 2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid include anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with hill start, active front-seat head restraints, stability and traction controls, and front-side, driver-knee, and full-length side curtain airbags. The hill start feature keeps the car from rolling backwards when going uphill. The brakes can stop the car from traveling at 60 mph in 120 feet.
Safety ratings for the Toyota Highlander Hybrid receive five out of five stars in driver collision protection and four out of five stars in side-impact protection for front passenger frontal and side-impact collisions. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives this car a best possible rating of ""Good"" for protection in frontal-offset and side-impact collisions.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE : 28/28 mpg city/highway
- Comfortable, smooth ride
- Quiet cabin
- Removable center section in second row seating can be replaced with a center table or provide walk-through access to third row
- Easy-to-use controls
- Good fuel economy
You Won't Like
- Steep price compared to the regular gasoline model
- Cramped third row
- Sluggish all-wheel drive performance
Hybrid fuel economy plus passenger comfort.
If You Like This Vehicle
- 2011 Ford Flex
- Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
- GMC Yukon Hybrid
- Ford Escape Hybrid
See the New 2014 Highlander Hybrid.
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