2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

Highlander Hybrid

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2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview

For those thinking green-leaning, gas-saving, passenger-toting utility, the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid might be just the thing. This 7-passenger midsize gas/electric crossover sports 3 rows of seating, a luxurious cabin, a handsome profile, 83.2 cubic feet of cargo area (with the rear seats folded) and, alas, a hefty MSRP. That said, this posh hybrid people hauler underwent a hefty redesign in 2014 that brought it into next-gen status, thus the upcoming model year offers no notable changes to either features or price.

A pair of trims, the lush Limited and the uber-posh Limited Platinum, return for 2015, with each once again sporting a standard all-wheel drivetrain (AWD). Said AWD system allows normal cruising in front-wheel drive (FWD) while standing ready to automatically shift torque from the wheels that slip to the wheels that grip when surface conditions dictate.

Power, meantime, returns in the form of a 3.5-liter V6 engine that combines with a couple of electric motors (one for power, one for accessories) to put out 280 hp under the management of the standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). Regenerative braking, of course, helps the V6 recharge the lithium-ion battery pack for all-electric spurts for short distances, thereby allowing an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/28 highway, which is about as good as things get in the segment.

Appearance-wise, look for the 2015 Highlander Hybrid Limited to return boasting 19-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, roof rails, a power liftgate and power sunroof to go along with its standard front fog/driving lights and LED daytime running lights.

Inside, the posh goes on to include leather upholstery (front and second rows), full power accessories, including heated power-adjustable outside mirrors, heated power-adjustable front seats, and sliding and reclining second-row captain’s chairs.

Cruise control is, of course standard in both trims, as is a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, memory for driver’s settings, keyless entry and ignition, and Toyota’s touted Driver Easy Speak driver’s voice amplification, which lets the driver converse with second- and third-row passengers in a normal tone of voice. Additionally, a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors, along with an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, are also once again standard aboard both Highlander Hybrid trims.

Delivered techno-goodies, meanwhile, include Bluetooth-integrated Entune infotainment with Smartphone apps, hard-drive-based navigation and a JBL premium audio system sporting 12 speakers, HD satellite radio and multiple USB connections. Oh, and all infotainment and navigation components remain interfaced with an 8-inch touchscreen display.

To all of the above, the Limited Platinum adds a standard panoramic sunroof, heated second-row seats and a heated steering wheel. Also standard aboard the Limited Platinum, even as it returns as an option for the lesser Limited, is the Driver Technology Package, with Toyota’s Safety Connect emergency telematics, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings and auto high-beam headlights.

Further standard safety equipment gracing each 2015 Highlander Hybrid trim, finally, includes 4-wheel antilock braking (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags and 3-row head airbags. Furthermore, both trims also boast standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts.

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Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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