in 2009 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $18,443 - $23,590
Original MSRP: $34,700 - $41,020
MPG: 27 City / 25 Hwy
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2009 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Interior

This interior review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Reviewers appreciated the Highlander Hybrid's cabin, saying that it's roomier and quieter than ever before, but features some subpar materials. The available third row makes the Highlander Hybrid especially useful for families.

  • "You'll be comfortable in the Highlander's roomy new seven-passenger interior, especially since the optional third-row seat is actually made for adults." -- Edmunds
  • "Inside, the dash layout, materials and fit-and-finish are excellent, and the Highlander provides a commanding driving position that makes SUVs a trusted companion on the road." -- MSN
  • "Inside, the Hybrid Limited is as well-appointed as any luxury car. There's plenty of room in the front and middle seats, but the flat-folding third-row seat is best left to the kids." -- Orlando Sentinel
  • "Our base model Highlander Hybrid used some questionable material in the cabin, such as fake wood-grain plastic over the console. We had a little trouble getting a 12-volt adaptor out of one of the car's console power points, and as we tugged at it, we saw the plastic cover bend and pull upwards." -- CNET

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Pictures

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The base Highlander Hybrid seats five in two rows, but reviewers had mixed opinions about comfort. A plus is the second row's Center Stow Seat, which adds family-friendly versatility. An available third-row seat makes room for up to seven.

  • "... Toyota has stolen every inch it can elsewhere in the vehicle, leaving taller drivers barely enough room for a comfortable driving position." -- Boston Globe
  • "Unfortunately the front seats offer little in the way of lateral support and as is too often the case the bottom cushions are too short. The steering wheel rim is also a bit too skinny for a comfortable grip." -- Autoblog Green
  • "The second-row seats recline and then also move fore and aft through 4.7 inches of travel. The second-row seat also incorporates a Center Stow seat, an occasional seat that can also be converted to a center console or even stowed away to create separate captain's chairs. It's amazingly light and easy to handle, and even a scrawny 6-year-old with arms like twigs was able to get the job done without whining for help." -- Edmunds
  • "The Center Stow seat provides decent comfort and can be removed when not needed." -- Cars.com
  • "We were surprised with the roominess inside, especially for third-row passengers, who made little consolation in terms of ingress, egress, and overall comfort. The Highlander Hybrid was quite flexible, easily morphing to accommodate different passenger/cargo needs, while providing outstanding long-distance comfort." -- MSN

Interior Features

The Highlander Hybrid comes with plenty of luxury features, but its interior is plagued by cheap materials. The Limited trim offers an availabel voice-activated DVD navigation system.

  • "Budget realities mean there are more hard plastic finishes than in a typical Lexus, but those plastics are nicely grained and assembled with care. Only the headliner, which looks like a cardboard egg carton, disappoints." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Visually the dashboard looks attractive enough and the plastic surfaces appear to be of a reasonably high quality. However, that impression ends when you touch the dashboard surface. All the plastic surfaces in the Highlander (aside from the armrests) are hard plastic with no padding." -- Autoblog Green
  • "The instrumentation is clear, with the exception of a kilowatt/power meter that seems as extraneous as the tachometers on most of today's vehicles." -- Boston Globe
  • "The audio system in this base model only uses six speakers, two tweeters in front and a woofer on each door. We were surprised how much bass came out of the speakers, but not in a good way. It wasn't a particularly deep bass, and it overwhelmed the sound quality." -- CNET


Reviewers were disappointed with the Highlander Hybrid's cargo volume with all seats in use on seven-seat models, but were pleased with the capacity in five-seat models or when the third row is folded down.

  • "Cargo volume behind the third row remains small at 10.3 cubic feet." -- Motor Week
  • "If you don't need the extra people capacity, a tug on the strap at the top of the rear seat allows the head rests to flip down and the seat back folds down providing a flat load floor." -- Autoblog Green
  • "The Highlander Hybrid was quite flexible, easily morphing to accommodate different passenger/cargo needs, while providing outstanding long-distance comfort." -- MSN
  • "The Highlander's third row is also a one-piece fixed design, so you can't configure the cargo area for a storage and passenger mix. However, the seat does fold flat into the floor, allowing for 42 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. With the second row folded down, the space opens up to a capacious 94 cubes." -- Edmunds

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