2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review
This review was written when the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid was new.
The 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has good fuel economy, a roomy and well-made interior and a capable engine, but reviewers say it isn’t fun to drive.
Most people shopping for a seven-seat family vehicle with good gas mileage aren’t expecting an SUV with sporty handling -- which is a good thing, since the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid excels at efficiently transporting seven people in comfort, not carving corners. That said, the 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid’s detached driving dynamics are its biggest drawback. The Highlander Hybrid has decent power for most tasks, according to test drivers, but it hardly has any steering feel, and it has more body roll when driven through corners than most other midsize SUVs have.
If the Highlander Hybrid’s driving dynamics matter less to you than a well-made interior, comfortable seats, room for seven, family-friendly features and impressive fuel economy, this might be the right SUV for you. Test drivers praise its interior cargo space and its seamless, smooth powertrain, which isn’t always the case with hybrids.
Overall, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a practical, fuel-efficient seven-seater, though its high starting price means it will take more than eight years to make up the extra cost over the base model in fuel savings. However, the Highlander Hybrid's fuel economy, interior comfort and standard and optional features helped it earn our 2012 Best Hybrid SUV for Families award. If you're in the market for a hybrid vehicle to chauffer your family on road trips or to school or soccer practice, reviewers say you'll be happy with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
Other Hybrid SUVs to Consider
If you’re looking for another affordable hybrid SUV with seating for more than five, your only other choices are the GMC Yukon Hybrid and the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. These corporate siblings are truck-based large SUVs, so they drive more like trucks than the car-based Highlander, but shoppers with their hearts set on a hybrid with lots of seats will have to pick one of the three.
If your priorities lay more with general fuel economy than a hybrid powertrain, consider the Kia Sorento. Some models get four more miles per gallon on the highway than the Highlander Hybrid, and it also offers seating for seven. The Kia Sorento is not nearly as large on the inside, or as well-made as the Toyota, but it’s also about half of the Highlander Hybrid’s price.
Details: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in base and Limited trims, and both come standard with four-wheel drive. The gas-only Toyota Highlander is reviewed separately. Since all Highlander models were updated for 2011, there aren’t many changes for 2012.
See the full list of 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid specifications.
- "Despite its electric bits, the hybrid drives almost exactly like a conventional Highlander. That means a high level of equipment, a cushy ride, great interior versatility, decent power, and spacious passenger accommodations." -- Car and Driver
- "The interior is flexible and comfortable, it finally has a useful third row and interior controls don't get any more logical or easier to use than these. It may not tickle the enthusiast's fancy, but the … Highlander Hybrid is a very well-rounded and well thought-out family crossover that just happens to be a 28-mpg hybrid. … If you're going into this with a minivan budget but can make do with a little less size and space, the … Toyota Highlander Hybrid starts to make a good deal of sense.” -- Edmunds
- "Versions with the conventional engines best represent Highlander's positive attributes, as the Hybrid's stiff price premium may take years to offset in fuel savings.” -- Consumer Guide