Toyota Highlander Hybrid Performance
The Highlander Hybrid receives ample praise from auto reviewers for its smooth power delivery and effortless shifts. Edmunds calls it "an excellent family SUV," while USA TODAY says it's "fun to scoot in."
Several test drivers note that the Highlander Hybrid runs quiet - whether it's running on the gas engine or the electric motor. Cars.com adds, "You often can't tell the gasoline engine is running because it's so quiet. That quietness helps make the transition between electric and gasoline propulsion more seamless than some hybrids."
Acceleration and Power
The 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes with a 3.3-liter V6 engine with 208 horsepower and 212 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid engine accelerates "eagerly and effortlessly." Despite rave reviews, Toyota is replacing the 3.3-liter engine with a new 3.5-liter V6 for the 2008 model year.
A permanent magnet electric motor operates the front wheels, housing 165 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 247 pound-feet of torque at 0 - 1,500 rpm, and a traction battery. The 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid also has an additional rear electronic motor, fitted for the four-wheel drive models. Both electric motors regenerate during braking.
Auto writers agree that the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid's power delivery is smooth with faultless shifts. Edmunds finds the acceleration on the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid "terrific," and "excellent at any speed, thanks to the electric motor assist," although the reviewer also notes that it can be noisy (a few test drivers noted the brief, high pitched whine). Motor Week notes the electric motors' contribution as "very apparent accelerating out of corners, or when passing, when they deliver an extra kick of instant torque."
The 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) standard. Auto writers typically praise it. CNET reports that "the continuously variable transmission gives the entire acceleration band an enjoyably smooth feeling."
The 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has an Environmental Protection Agency estimate of 28 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway, which brings out mixed reviews from auto writers. Car and Driver calls the difference between the standard Highlander and the Hybrid "noticeable." In contrast, finds the fuel efficiency of the Hybrid over the conventional model less than remarkable, and Autoweb reports the fuel economy as "unimpressive" for a hybrid vehicle. The 2007 Highlander Hybrid gets poorer fuel economy than the smaller Ford Escape Hybrid, but slightly better fuel economy than the Lexus RX Hybrid.
Handling and Braking
The majority of reviewers agree that the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid is easy to maneuver, delivers an unruffled ride and has adequate braking. Both trim levels come with electric power rack-and-pinion steering; four-wheel independent MacPherson strut suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, and an Electronically Controlled Braking System with regenerative control, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management. Car and Driver cites the ride as "comfortable," and says, "Handling on the highway is appropriately carlike," in addition to praising the Hybrid for its "creamy ride."
Edmunds finds that although the ride is smooth, the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid "has a light and somewhat 'tossable' nature but the added weight of the hybrid version gives it a more cumbersome feel around tight turns," -- but it is still easy to handle in the city and is smooth on the highway.
Most auto writers praise the 2007 Toyota Highlander Hybrid's steering. "The Highlander Hybrid offers appealing steering feel and a comfortable ride," says Kelley Blue Book. Motor Week finds "the electric rack-and-pinion steering is very responsive, delivering quick direction changes, but it lacks feel. The soft springs do produce a fair amount of body roll, but it doesn't seem to affect the chassis' composure." In disagreement with most test drivers, Autoweb reports that the steering "felt numb under all driving conditions, and had a significant dead spot on center."
Reviews cite the Highlander Hybrid's brakes as adequate. "The brakes, while extremely effective, featured a sensitive pedal that went straight to full braking with very little pressure, turning modulation into a fine art," says Autoweb, while also noting that the regenerative braking was "almost undetectable while driving
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