The Toyota Highlander looks like it could tackle some rough terrain, but it’s better suited for a family’s rough use. The Hybrid model is ideal for getting the the best fuel economy in the midsize crossover category. Families looking for versatility, comfort, practicality, all-weather capability, and three-row seating need to keep reading.
This week, we’ve been driving the top-trim, 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum V6 with all-wheel drive.
What’s New For 2018
The 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid receives no significant changes. For 2017, Highlander received a number of significant mid-cycle changes. The styling was updated with a more pronounced grille and LED taillights. The V6 engine was new, boasting more power and better fuel economy along with an eight-speed transmission and an automatic stop-start system. New feature content included the Toyota Safety Sense technology suite, which comes standard on every trim level.
Features & Options
The top-trim, 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum V6 AWD ($48,280) comes standard with windshield wiper de-icer, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure intervention, and adaptive cruise control. Keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, and Bluetooth connectivity are also standard.
Our Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum had a sunroof, a height-adjustable power liftgate, a flip-up rear window, and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems. Nice extras included power front seats with heat, leather upholstery, second-row sunshades, upgraded interior materials, a second-row 120-volt power outlet, an 8.1-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, and a navigation system.
Limited adds 19-inch wheels, LED running lights, rear parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats with perforated leather, driver’s seat memory functions, second-row captain’s chairs, a rear cargo cover, and a 12-speaker JBL sound system. Limited Platinum gets a panoramic sunroof, automatic wipers, front parking sensors, a 360-degree parking camera, heated rear seats and steering wheel.
Total MSRP including destination: $49,913.
The cabin of the Limited Platinum is extra luxurious and the leather seats are comfy for long trips. This model borders on being a true luxury vehicle with its refinement touches and plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the roomy cabin. The cabin is more car-like which is good for growing families on the go.
The navigation system features a large touchscreen, with many of the functions using real buttons which we like. We cranked up the heated seats and heated steering wheel, and kept warm with the late winter snowfall in Denver this week.
Visibility is excellent in the Highlander, thanks to a larger rear-quarter window and repositioned pillars. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited gets twin reclining captain’s chairs that can be pushed back for maximum legroom. We carried two large passengers this week who were lounging in the back on the way to the restaurant.
The third row works well for smaller kids and access is easy with the captain’s chairs. Cargo space totals 13.8 cubic feet behind the third row, and there’s plenty of versatility for busy families with a maximum of 83.7 cubic feet with the seats folded flat.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
Highlander Hybrid comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 paired with three electric motors. Total system output is 306 horsepower and all-wheel drive is standard. The Hybrid is rated at an EPA-estimated 29/27 city/highway and 28 combined mpg.
Because the hybrids are heavier than the gas models, acceleration is a bit slower but better with the new V6. Once underway, however, the cabin is comfortable and quiet. Our passengers kicked back, put the rear window shades up, and chilled as we drove around town. The suspension is somewhat compliant and it smooths out the bumps and rougher roads. If you want a smoother ride, opt for the 18-inch wheels over the Limited’s 19-inchers.
Power is sufficient enough for most driving situations. We pushed hard up I-70 at altitude and had enough power to pass slower traffic. The all-wheel drive worked well on the dirt roads this week too.
The safety features were evident as well. We heard the sounds associated with the system, like traction control, alerting us to various safety hazards as we drove. It helped us feel secure in heavy Denver traffic this week.
The three-row Highlander will be a good choice for growing families on the go. It’s easy to live with and offers plenty of utility and cargo space. We particularly liked the second row captain’s chairs that offer more comfort for adults and growing teens. This crossover won’t get you away from civilization like other more rugged vehicles, but it’s a good choice for city dwellers.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
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2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum Gallery
2018 Toyota Highlander Official Site.
Photos: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.