Who needs a hybrid minivan when there's this?

2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

The tricked-out seven-seater feels like a luxury crossover

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: March 10th, 2016

Families looking for a fuel-efficient vehicle that can also seat seven will be hard-pressed to find a better vehicle that fits the bill other than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It's the closest thing the market has to a hybrid minivan, without the bulky look. Attractive and sleek, the Highlander Hybrid looks just as smart on the inside as it does on the outside. Updated technology, third-row seating, and impressive fuel economy make it a very capable, family-friendly crossover.

  • Exterior: Smart-looking both inside and out

    Two years ago the Highlander went under the knife for a massive redesign that brought about a larger, better-looking crossover. A pronounced front end is punctuated by an aggressive grille and LED lights and integrated chrome roof rails add a bit of flair, while minimizing overhead noise. Toyota nailed the look of the new SUV, giving it more sophistication and presence.

    • Athletic design marked by sleek curves gives the Highlander Hybrid a pretty shape.
    • Adjustable power liftgate lets you change how high it opens, which comes in handy if you have a garage with low clearance. To quickly grab an item out of the back there's also a convenient flip-up rear hatch window.
    • Sharp-looking 19-inch Chromtec wheels add style.

  • Interior: Useful and refined

    When it comes to space and comfort, the Highlander Hybrid doesn't disappoint. Ample room on the interior provides seating for seven, with second-row captain's chairs that make riding in the back much more fun. The front dash has a neat, organized layout that's easy-to-use, made with soft-touch materials, and accented by metallic and wood-grain details.

    • Buttons and knobs are used sparingly, but placed where you'd expect them to be.
    • An incredibly useful shelf runs from the center stack all the way to the end of the dashboard on the passenger side.
    • Third row 60/40 seat makes it easy to accommodate various sized objects.
    • Perforated leather-trimmed seats are heated and ventilated, providing a nice cushion for you derrière.
    • Power moonroof lets in ample sunshine and fresh air, making the cabin feel open, with greater visibility.

  • Driving Impressions: Smooth cruising and whisper quiet

    Despite the Highlander's large size, its Hybrid Synergy Drive system gets pretty good fuel economy numbers, with a combined rating of 28 mpg, versus 20 mpg for its traditional gasoline counterpart. A gas-electric V6 provides sufficient power, giving quick acceleration with seamless shifting. The ride is so extraordinarily smooth and quiet it's hard to know when the vehicle is even on.

    • Entune Premium Audio provides integrated navigation and app suite on an eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen display.
    • Despite its size, the Highlander Hybrid is agile, with responsive steering so parking doesn't feel like an enormous feat.
    • Standard backup camera provides a projected path to help guide you whether you're backing up or parallel parking.

  • Final Impressions: A hybrid family throne

    The Highlander Hybrid may ultimately boil down to a being an efficient people-moving machine, but it does so with atypical comfort and style of completely utilitarian vehicles. While it's good at doing what it promises - getting you and the entire car pool from point A to point B safely, without guzzling fuel, it also gives a premium feel so you don't have to sacrifice creature comforts for sensibility.

    Named a 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus, the Highlander Hybrid is equipped with numerous safety systems, while its all-wheel-drive system provides confidence in all types of weather. With a pricetag around $50K, it rivals many luxury brands. With the Highlander Hybrid Limited, you get a top-of-the-line Toyota with all the bells and whistles, so you end up riding in a throne that also happens to be eco-conscious.

  • Specifications and Price

    Engine: 3.5-liter V6 with Hybrid Synergy Drive

    Transmission: Continuously variable

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, All-wheel drive

    Power Output: 231 horsepower / 215 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 27 city / 28 highway

    Base Price: $47,870

    As Tested: $50,295 (incl. $900 destination)

    Standard Features: LED daytime running lights, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, power liftgate, power moonroof, second row captain's seats, third row 60/40 split seat, wood-grain trim, Entune Premium Audio with touchscreen nav, backup camera

    Options on our test vehicle: Driver Technology Package including: Safety Connect, Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Automatic High Beam Headlights

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• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid, click here: 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.