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Toyota Highlander Hybrid Performance

Test drivers agree that the 2015 Toyota Highlander Hybrid delivers a quiet and comfortable ride, and has controlled handling. Most reviewers say it feels peppy from a stop, though a few caution that its brake pedal feels too sensitive. The Highlander Hybrid's fuel economy is excellent for the class.

  • "Just like its gas-only sibling, the Hybrid is easy and pleasant to drive. It's quick to accelerate, smooth-riding and one of the quietest vehicles we've ever tested on the highway." -- Edmunds
  • "The brake pedal had a slightly artificial feel due to the energy recovery system, but it would have been far less noticeable had I not just stepped out of a non-hybrid Highlander." -- Road and Track (2014)
  • "If you wish to stretch those mpgs even further, opt for the Highlander Hybrid, which turns in 27 city/28 highway fuel economy. No matter which powertrain you decide on, the latest Highlander delivers a quality on-road experience, allowing some engine and road noise into the cabin, though certainly less than the previous model." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 and three electric motors that together produce 280 horsepower. All-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard. At an EPA-estimated 27/28 mpg city/highway, the 2015 Highlander Hybrid's fuel economy is excellent for the class.

Most reviewers say the Highlander Hybrid feels peppy from a stop, though some say that it can feel sluggish once it gets going. Auto journalists also like that the Highlander Hybrid transitions smoothly between gas and electric power.

  • "In city traffic, the 280-hp hybrid system provides decent pickup, and the V6/CVT combination gives it some real pep off the line." -- Edmunds
  • "The Highlander Hybrid may have a few more horses, but there's a noticeable delay when you step on it, whereas the regular Highlander V6 downshifts immediately and leaps forward with impressive pace." -- AutoTrader
  • "The Hybrid powertrain is more responsive off the line, where the immediate torque of electric motors helps most. However, the CVT never shifts, creating a somewhat numb feel during acceleration." -- MSN Autos (2014)
  • "The transition from electric to gas power is near-seamless and undetectable. The thud you used to feel in hybrids as the gas motor took over is gone." -- Road and Track (2014)

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the 2015 Highlander Hybrid's comfortable ride makes it a great highway cruiser. They say it has composed handling in turns, though critics caution that the brake pedal is a little sensitive, which takes a while to get used to.

  • "It's surprisingly solid in corners, though, with less body roll than we expected. … Of course, the main purpose of the Highlander is to take bumps and freeway expansion joints in stride, and it excels in this regard, providing near-Lexus levels of refinement." -- AutoTrader
  • "As with most hybrids, the regenerative braking system produces a characteristically odd pedal feel that may strike some drivers as a little touchy until they've acclimated." -- Edmunds
  • "Instead, Highlander buyers are looking for a solid, dependable vehicle that can handle a variety of road surfaces, from smooth suburban asphalt to concrete Interstate highways, to even the occasional light off-road duty. In each of these situations the Highlander excels. …" -- Kelley Blue Book
Review Last Updated: 8/27/15

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