2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid (764)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 4WD V6 SUV. Friend Mark who owns a Toyota Sequoia says the Highlander is his next car, but he doesn’t want a Hybrid. He’s been told to stay away from Hybrids. But from the research I’ve done and the absence of negative press I believe his concerns are not well founded. Time will tell but with all the incentives and great warranties it is comforting enough for me to take the chance. Look at Toyota Prius for example. I know several people who own them and not one complaint of horror stories and they have been around for a while now.

Correction:

Before I get on with the Highlander I have a correction on a recent review of the Toyota Yaris. Sam B. at Toyota called me to say he read the column I had written about the Yaris but the photography was of the Honda Fit. Can’t be Sam, but I’ll look into it! But Sam was right. Looking at the photos “side by each” and it’s easy to see how they could get switched.

Well, this Highlander Hybrid can’t be mistaken for much else, or could it? After a while they all blend together so it’s clear that manufacturers are keenly aware of what people like and don’t like in design. I just wonder if they are shooting themselves in the foot when they are conservative and play it safe with design. Ahh, but what about the Scion? That was a bold new look. Ok, ya got me.

But the 1950s and 1960s kind of design is what I’m referring to. There were ‘fins’ and bigger fins and grills that were so distinct you couldn’t miss what make it was that had just gone by no matter how fast it was traveling, or the split second glimpse you got. You knew if it were a Ford, Chevy or Chrysler – or European of some kind. Japanese cars didn’t exist in America then and they were just a budding industry in Japan back then. Korea was still producing bicycles shortly after they discovered the wheel. The world has come a long way baby in 50 years.

Handling & Performance:

Excellent. This Highlander is fast and smooth and quiet.

Styling:

Clean lines and attractive is what defines the Highlander. It comes in either a 5 passenger or 7 with 3rd row seating.

Fit and Finish:

Very nice – no complaints here.

Cost:

In the hunt.

Consumer Recommendation:

One has to wonder about the technology and the Hybrid cost of maintenance and repair over time. I like the way the Hybrid drive train is transparent but I also agree with those who express concern for what cost may be required after a few years.

There is some comfort in that several states offer tax deductions and incentives for hybrid purchases. The rebates vary from state to state, but when combined with the available federal tax credits, they can add up to substantial savings.

All the hybrid-specific components in every hybrid vehicle currently on the market are covered under warranty for eight years/100,000 miles or 10 years/150,000 miles, depending on the state, but these components have been shown to have a much longer lifespan in testing. Toyota, for example, reports that its battery packs have lasted for more than 180,000 miles in testing.

In ordinary vehicles the brake pads need to be changed regularly. But the hybrids’ regenerative braking systems and their reduced heat means their brake pads typically last much longer. Toyota says “We’ve seen customers go 85,000 miles before they needed to replace their brakes on their Prius vehicles” for example.

Recognized Competition:

Toyota Highlander Hybrid $35-41,000, Lexus RX 400h $42-43,000, Buick Enclave $35-39,000, GMC Yukon Hybrid $51-54,000, Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid $50-53,000, Mercury Mariner Hybrid $30-32,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $30-34,000, Dodge Durango Hybrid $45,040, Chrysler Aspen Hybrid $45,270, Subaru Tribeca $30-34,000.

Good News:

Nice design, fast, smooth and a very comfortable ride.

Bad News:
Uncertainty as to repair cost over time.

Standard Equipment:

3.3 liter V6 209 hp gas engine, hybrid synergy drive system, electric continuously variable transmission, electronic power steering, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes, tow prep package, vehicle stability with traction control, front air bags and driver knee airbag, front side airbags and rear roll sensing side curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, 2nd row child seat anchors and tethers, power heated mirrors, in glass antenna, air conditioning, rear back up camera, audio with CD, power windows and locks, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, 8 way driver and 4-way passenger seats and rear 40/20/40 split folding seat.

Gas Stats:

$2.97/ Gal avg. June 20, ‘09
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

27 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $34,700.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2009 – An Automotive Love Affair

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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