2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

Highlander Hybrid

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2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Overview

Nearly two full decades have passed since Toyota introduced the Highlander to the world, but the first Highlander Hybrid didn’t arrive until 2006, offering a more fuel-efficient version of a favorite among crossover buyers. The list of hybrid 3-row is short, but the Highlander Hybrid faces plenty of competition from fuel efficient 3-row crossovers like the Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9. Last updated for 2017, the Highlander Hybrid rolls into 2019 unchanged with a few minor exterior upgrades.

Those visual tweaks consist of black rocker panel covers for the LE and XLE trims, and new chrome LED fog lights for the Limited trim. Shoppers intent on having body-color rockers will need to pony up for the Limited, where shiny chrome 19-inch alloy wheels are also on the menu.

Unlike the non-hybrid 2019 Highlander, Toyota doesn't offer the SE’s sportier styling here, and exterior distinctions are limited to blue-trimmed badges.

The Highlander Hybrid is available only with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. A hybrid powertrain consisting of a 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engine, dual electric motors that power the front and rear wheels, a nickel-metal Hydride battery pack, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Net horsepower comes in at 306, and the EPA suggests drivers will see 29 mpg city, 27 highway, and 28 combined. For the LE Plus with AWD, expect to see 30, 28, 29.

Inside, the Highlander Hybrid provides a welcoming space with fold-flat second- and third-row seats and front and rear air conditioning. In the middle of the lineup is an XLE variant that hits the sweet spot for many potential buyers, thanks to its standard moonroof, triple-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable heated front seats, and auto-dimming interior rear-view mirror, all of which are also found in the Highlander Hybrid Limited. To earn its top spot, the Limited goes a few steps further with second-row heated captain’s chairs, premium leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats with memory, soft blue ambient lighting, and a booming JBL audio system.

Entune, Toyota’s touchscreen infotainment system, includes Bluetooth and Siri Eyes Free technology, allowing users to deliver voice commands to a linked smartphone. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't included. However, to its credit, the Highland Hybrid does cover most of its bases with available satellite radio, navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch screen and wireless headphones, and a 120-volt power outlet essential for keeping all of those portable electronics charged.

The 2019 Highlander Hybrid is focused on safety, as evidenced by its standard intelligent cruise control, lane-departure warning system, and, for all but the LE, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Rear parking sensors are found only on the Limited, as is Toyota’s Safety Connect feature that delivers roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, and an automatic collision notification system that alerts emergency services in the case of an accident.

The Highlander Hybrid earned high marks across the board, with a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Safe, efficient, and as family-friendly as they come, the 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid continues to prove why it deserves serious consideration.


Thom is a lifelong car nut, owning cars ranging from Datsuns to Mustang GTs and, currently, a Hemi-powered Ram 1500. He has spent the past 15 years writing objective, thorough vehicle reviews and consumer-focused feature articles for Autobytel.com, Kelley Blue Book, The Boston Globe, Cars.com, and other leading websites and publications.

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