I am not reasonably certain precisely when the three-row SUV become the American circle of relatives automotive, however we are firmly in that generation now. The rustic has at all times favored its automobiles to be large, and the additional peak of an SUV makes it extra-bigger. Which is why it is disappointing that there are so few hybrid three-rows to make a choice from, specifically if you do not want a luxurious badge at the entrance. There are actually handiest two choices in 2021. You must opt for the Kia Sorento Hybrid, which we examined in January. However for just a little extra—beginning at $38,510 for a front-wheel-drive model—it’s worthwhile to get a good larger one: the brand new Toyota Highlander hybrid.
The rustic turns out obsessive about enforcing, bluff-fronted SUVs and vans in this day and age, and the Highlander conforms to this development, albeit with much less implicit threat than others have completed. Toyota is aware of taste sexy SUVs, however it is a problem for any automaker to make one thing this large glance sublime versus slab-sided. And also you do get a heck of a large number of car while you get a Highlander. It is 195 inches (four,950 mm) lengthy, 76 inches (1,930 mm) broad, and 68 inches (1.730 mm) tall, and it has a 112-inch (2,850 mm) wheelbase, all of which places it within the “midsize” phase (one thing that also baffles an immigrant like me who considers it ginormous).
The result’s an inner that is going past spacious. From the driving force’s seat, you have got numerous room between you and the passenger seat, and the door is a ways sufficient away that I began complaining there was once nowhere handy to relaxation my elbow. As is typically the case with press fleet automobiles, our take a look at Highlander hybrid was once totally loaded, on this case a $50,315 Platinum AWD type, so the inner is generously trimmed with leather-based. There are many cubbies and cabinets for garage, and I slightly like the way in which the 12.Three-inch infotainment gadget is framed by way of a bar that stretches out to the passenger-side A pillar. (As an infotainment gadget it is tremendous; it is the similar one you’ll be able to to find within the Venza hybrid crossover, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.)
Existence’s additionally beautiful just right if you are driving in some of the two captain’s chairs that make up the center row. At 41 inches (1,zero41 mm), you have got much more legroom than the front-seat passenger, and in Platinum trim, the center row may be heated.
As with many three-row SUVs, the 3rd row will have to be regarded as shipment house initially. The issue is that the gap between the ground and the seat is not up to within the different rows, so even quick other folks like me have to take a seat with their knees of their face. Plus, in the event you do have the 3rd row in use, your shipment capability is simply 16 cubic ft (453 L); with this row folded down, the capability is a a lot more helpful 48 cubic ft (1,371 L). One result of the captain’s chairs is that, even supposing they additionally fold down, you will not get a fully flat load flooring like you possibly can in the event that they had been a unmarried bench seat.
As an alternative of the three.five L V6 that powers different Highlanders, there is certainly one of Toyota’s 2.five L, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engines. This works at the side of a couple of electrical motors, one an built-in starter/generator and the opposite a power motor. General energy output is 243 hp (181 kW), with the gas engine contributing as much as 186 hp (139 kW), and a blended torque output of 175 lb-ft (237 Nm). There may be just a unmarried transmission possibility, irrespective of whether or not the Highlander hybrid is FWD or AWD. It is a incessantly variable transmission, and prefer such a lot of of the ones, it does the SUV few favors in relation to refinement.
At town speeds, the whole thing is ok, and the moment torque of the electrical motor does wonders in getting the all-wheel-drive SUV’s four,595 lbs (2,084 kg) of mass underway. However the CVT signifies that the engine revs build up sooner than you acquire velocity, which produces a raspy, buzzy noise that sounds specifically worked below load (if you are hiking a hill, as an example).
You understand that weight when it is time to decelerate, too. With an preliminary mild brake software, there seemed to be just a little lifeless spot at the first few millimeters of shuttle at the brake pedal, which was once just a little unnerving till I were given used to it. Now not that I used to be in any threat, however Toyota’s Protection Sense 2.zero bundle of complex driving force assists is same old on all Highlanders.
My greatest grievance with the Highlander hybrid is its gas potency. Its legit EPA ranking is 35 mpg blended (6.7 l/100 km), with the similar within the town, and 34 mpg (6.nine l/100 km) at the freeway. However I struggled to achieve 31 mpg (7.6 l/100 km). That is nonetheless beautiful just right while you imagine a V6 Platinum AWD Highlander is handiest rated at a blended 20 mpg (11.eight l/100 km), however it isn’t just about as just right because the 37 mpg (6.four l/100 km) Kia Sorento Hybrid. That automotive is rather shorter than the Toyota, however it is also meaningfully less expensive, and it is the one we would counsel.