2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was new.
Test drivers are pleased with the Highlander Hybrid's sophisticated performance, even if the ride is geared more toward comfort than sporty driving.
- "On the road, the ride is smooth and quiet. The electric power steering has above-average feel, and while the Highlander is no sports car, handling is better than you'd expect." -- Orlando Sentinel
- "Toyota has engineered a larger, more powerful 2008 Highlander Hybrid. And its complex personalities understand the value of working together, each system quietly supporting the other instead of proclaiming its gas or green individuality." -- Edmunds
Acceleration and Power
The Highlander Hybrid comes with a 3.3-liter 209-horsepower V6 engine that's more than adequate. It's paired with a 167-hp electric motor and electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the 2008 Highlander Hybrid will net 27 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
- "The transition between electric and gas power is so seamless that it's easy to miss the handoff unless you're staring intently at the blue LED power meter and watching for the green or gas-guzzler personality to emerge." -- Edmunds
- "When we had to give it the gas, the Highlander didn't exactly leap forward, but it did seem willing to go the distance. It would sedately accelerate, and that acceleration would carry on up whatever hill faced us. That type of performance is typical for continuously variable transmissions, which lack a hard gear where you can build up lots of revs." -- CNET
- "The hybrid power-train in the Highlander operates more smoothly than some other examples that have been evaluated in the AutoblogGreen Garage. The automatic start-stop of the engine was smoother than either the Saturn Aura or the Nissan Altima hybrids although not as seamlessly as the Two-Mode Hybrid Chevy Tahoe." -- Autoblog Green
- "Acceleration is exemplary." -- Boston Globe
Handling and Braking
The Highlander Hybrid's rack-and-pinion steering and Electronically Controlled Braking System (ECB) please most test drivers, though there are a few minor complaints.
- "The size and high center of gravity of the Highlander Hybrid means cornering can be a little scary. We were initially disconcerted by the amount of body roll, but found the car handled an emergency maneuver without a problem. Steering is relatively tight on the Highlander Hybrid, without a lot of play in the wheel." -- CNET
- "Ride comfort has precedence over handling, especially in the Hybrid. It also carries over 300 pounds more weight than an equivalent 4WD gasoline model because of the hybrid motors and batteries. So it is tuned more softly. It's very comfortable and extremely quiet." -- The Auto Channel
- "One area where the Highlander was vastly superior to other recent Toyotas was the braking and slip control system. The brake pedal feel was good and braking force was easily modulated. Compared to the new Tundra pickup truck, the ABS hydraulic control unit was quieter and the feedback through the brake pedal was more subdued." -- Autoblog Green
- "Braking is fine until the final feet when the drive train disengages and the vehicle tends to surge forward a bit." -- Boston Globe