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MSRP: $36,970 - 48,630

8.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.0
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 8.2
Safety: TBD
Reliability: TBD

2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Review

The 2019 Toyota Highlander hybrid ranks in top third of the midsize SUV class, thanks in part to its high-end cabin, abundance of safety features, and potent hybrid powertrain.

Pros & Cons

  • Class-leading fuel economy
  • Strong powertrain
  • Upmarket cabin
  • Lots of standard safety features
  • Infotainment system can be tricky
  • Less agile than rivals

Is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid a Good SUV?

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid is a great midsize SUV. It has a classy cabin with plenty of room and a long list of standard features. The Highlander Hybrid’s ride is generally smooth, and its powertrain provides potent power and acceleration, as well as great fuel economy for the segment. However, this Toyota’s regenerative brakes are a bit touchy, and some infotainment functions take some time to master.

Should I Buy the Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

There are a lot of good reasons to buy this SUV. It has an upscale, spacious cabin and a lot of standard safety features. The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain delivers good acceleration, especially at low speeds. As you’d expect from a hybrid, it’s highly fuel-efficient as well. Rivals like the Mazda CX-9 are more enjoyable to drive, though. If you’re on a tighter budget, you might consider the nonhybrid Toyota Highlander or even the smaller Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Compare the Highlander Hybrid, Highlander, and RAV4 Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Highlander Hybrid?

The current generation of the Highlander Hybrid launched during the 2014 model year. Toyota did not make any major changes for 2018 or 2019, so you may want to consider saving money by getting an older Highlander. For 2017, Toyota refreshed the hybrid Highlander, strengthening the powertrain to produce 26 more horsepower and squeezing out 2 more mpg in the city. The 2017 also received updated exterior and interior styling and a bunch of standard safety features.

To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid »

We Did the Research for You: 30 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Toyota Highlander Hybrid in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and cargo space dimensions) with professional evaluations from 30 automotive sources. This Toyota Highlander Hybrid review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2014 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Cost?

The base Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE has an MSRP of $36,970. That’s more than the base prices of many other midsize SUVs, though that’s understandable, since this is the sole hybrid in the class. In the top-of-the-line Hybrid Limited Platinum trim, the Highlander has an MSRP of $48,630.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Subaru Ascent?

The Subaru Ascent and Toyota Highlander Hybrid are neck-and-neck in our rankings. Both of these 3-row SUVs are good choices, but the Subaru wins out over the Toyota in a few areas. The Ascent has slightly more cargo space, and it’s more composed on the road. With its traction control and X-Mode, it also has some light off-road capability. The Subaru is more affordable too. It’s starting MSRP of $31,995 is $5,000 less than that of the base Highlander Hybrid. On the other hand, the Toyota has a nicer cabin, and its superior mpg ratings will save you around $350 per year in fuel costs. It would take the average driver a little more than 14 years to make up the difference in price between the two vehicles. Both of these are good SUVs though, so your choice comes down to personal preference.

Which Is Better: Toyota Highlander Hybrid or Honda Pilot?

The Honda Pilot is another good midsize SUV. It’s one of the few three-row vehicles capable of seating adults comfortably in each row. The Pilot also has a higher towing capacity and more tech features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. For its part, the Toyota has a nicer cabin and better gas mileage, saving you around $350 to $400 per year in fuel costs over the Honda (and $500 per year over the all-wheel drive Pilot). Cargo space is similar between these two SUVs, and both have smooth rides. You can’t go wrong with either of these SUVs, and choosing between them is a matter of personal preference.

Compare the Highlander Hybrid, Ascent, and Pilot »

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the Highlander Hybrid Seat?

The 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV seats eight people on standard cloth upholstery. Opting for the second-row captain’s chairs instead of the split-bench seat lowers that number to seven. Upgrades include leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, and a heated steering wheel.

You’ll have no problem getting comfortable up front, and the back seats slide to allow easy access to the third row. The first two rows have enough space for most adults. Adults can fit in the third row, but it’s better left for children for anything beyond just a short ride.

Highlander Hybrid and Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors in the second-row seats. The second- and third-row middle seats have a single tether anchor. The whole setup is easy to use.  

Highlander Hybrid Interior Quality

This Toyota’s cabin is full of high-quality materials. It looks and feels nice, with soft-touch surfaces and leather upholsteries in the higher trims that approach luxury-vehicle status.

Highlander Hybrid Cargo Space

This Toyota has 13.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. Folding down the third row opens up 42.3 cubic feet, and folding down the second row unveils a maximum 83.7 cubic feet of space. Cargo room with all the seats in use is low for the class, but the total amount of room is more in line with rivals like the Subaru Ascent and Buick Enclave.

Highlander Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Highlander Hybrid features the Entune system with a 6.1-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, five USB ports, Bluetooth, and Siri Eyes Free. A navigation system, HD Radio, satellite radio, a larger 8-inch touch screen, a 12-speaker JBL premium sound system, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and a rear-seat entertainment system are available.

The Entune infotainment system is a mixed bag. The controls are well-positioned and easy to use without distracting you from the road. Quirks like the absence of a physical navigation button make it harder to use, however.

Neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto is available in the Highlander Hybrid. Many SUVs now offer this feature as either standard or optional equipment. These technologies help you integrate your smartphone with the vehicle’s infotainment system. For more information, read our What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? articles.

Read more about interior »

Highlander Hybrid Performance

Highlander Hybrid Engine: A Powertrain for Everyone

All hybrid Highlanders uses the same powertrain: a 3.5-liter V6 engine and three electric motors. Together, they produce 306 horsepower. It’s paired with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT), a type of automatic. This hybrid powertrain is strong enough to tackle most driving situations. Even when loaded, this SUV still accelerates swiftly. Passing on the highway poses little challenge.

Highlander Hybrid Mileage: Best in Class

The base Highlander Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. That leads the class in fuel efficiency, but the Highlander Hybrid is the sole hybrid midsize SUV. With its V6 engine, the nonhybrid Highlander gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Shoppers that are especially concerned with fuel efficiency might want to consider other Toyotas, such as the Prius Prime. It’s a plug-in hybrid car that gets an impressive EPA-estimated 54 combined mpg in hybrid mode. Running on its electric motor only, it has a range of 25 miles.

Highlander Hybrid Ride and Handling:

The Highlander Hybrid opts for a smooth and comfortable ride rather than a sporty one. Its suspension absorbs most road flaws, and like some hybrids, the brakes are strong but feel grabby. However, this is not a small vehicle like the Toyota C-HR. It leans around corners, and some class rivals feel more agile. All-wheel drive comes standard.

Highlander Hybrid Towing Capacity 

A properly equipped Highlander Hybrid can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Highlander Hybrid Reliability

Is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid Reliable?

The 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV belongs to a generation that typically receives above-average predicted reliability ratings of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Highlander Hybrid Warranty

Toyota covers the 2019 Highlander Hybrid with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Hybrid parts are covered separately for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Read more about reliability »

Highlander Hybrid Safety

Highlander Hybrid Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid a five-star overall rating, with four out of five stars in front and rollover crash tests, as well as five stars in side crash evaluations.

Highlander Hybrid Safety Features

Thanks to Toyota Safety Sense becoming standard in most of the brand's products – including the C-HR, Prius Prime, and Highlander – this SUV has a lot of driver assistance technology. The base LE has a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and automatic high beams.

Available safety features include blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a surround-view parking camera.

Read more about safety »

Which Toyota Highlander Hybrid Is Right for Me?

Toyota offers the 2019 Highlander Hybrid in four trim levels: LE, XLE, Limited, and Limited Platinum. All models share the same powertrain and all-wheel drive.

For most shoppers, the midlevel XLE is the best choice. It adds a few luxury and comfort amenities over the base LE. The top-level Limited doesn’t offer much more than the XLE, other than a few additional safety features.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid LE has an MSRP of $36,970. Its equipment roster includes a rearview camera and Toyota Safety Sense, a package that consists of automatic high beams, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and a pre-collision warning and braking system with pedestrian detection.

Aside from safety features, you’ll get cloth seats, alloy wheels, a 60/40 split-folding third row, front and rear air conditioning, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start The Entune infotainment system features a 6.1-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, five USB ports, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, and voice controls.

No major packages are available with this trim.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE

With a base MSRP of $42,030, the XLE builds off the LE trim, adding fog lights, a moonroof, and tri-zone automatic climate control. You’ll also get comfort upgrades like leather-trimmed first- and second-row seats; leatherette third-row seats; heated and power-adjustable front seats; a 60/40 split-folding, sliding, and reclining second row; second-row sunshades; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; and Driver Easy Speak, which amplifies the driver’s voice through the rear speakers. The XLE also adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, a 120-volt power outlet, satellite radio, HD Radio, navigation, and an 8-inch touch screen.

A rear-seat Blu-ray entertainment system is available.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited

The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited (MSRP: $45,510) has all of the features of the XLE, plus rear parking sensors, upgraded leather for the first two rows, ventilated front seats, second-row captain’s chairs, larger alloy wheels, and a 12-speaker JBL premium sound system.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum

The Highlander Hybrid Limited Platinum has an MSRP of $48,630. It adds a surround-view parking camera, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a panoramic moonroof.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

See 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a potent hybrid powertrain, a well-designed cabin, and a smooth ride. A ton of safety features come standard too. There’s a lot to like about this SUV, but you can get many of those appealing traits – minus the top-notch fuel efficiency – for less money with the nonhybrid Toyota Highlander. The hybrid version is a good SUV, but it’s expensive. Because of that, it may be worth shopping around before selecting the hybrid Highlander.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2019 Toyota Highlander is among the most recommendable crossover SUVs for busy families. With three rows and seating for seven or eight passengers depending on configuration, the Highlander is roomy, versatile and easy to drive and live with. The 2019 Highlander is available in several trims, but all are exceptionally safe thanks to a robust suite of accident-avoidance and driver-assistance systems. Toyota’s midsize SUV remains a strong competitor to the Honda Pilot, not to mention newer competitors like the Volkswagen Atlas and Subaru Ascent." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "If the automobile market were a neighborhood potluck, Toyota would always be invited. It may not always serve the spiciest or most interesting dishes, but what Toyota brings to the party usually satisfies the masses. And the refreshed … Highlander and Highlander hybrid are the baked chicken and mashed potatoes of the automotive world." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "To many families who are interested in a new crossover, the … Toyota Highlander Hybrid will seem like a dream come true. On one hand, it offers the practicality and equipment you'd expect from a traditional crossover: 3-row seating, lots of room for people and cargo and a carlike ride with convenient storage spots throughout the cabin. On the other hand, the Highlander Hybrid also has something more: excellent gas mileage. … So what's the catch? Money, of course. The Highlander Hybrid isn't cheap. … But that sum buys you just about everything that most drivers will ever want from their family car, and that's why the Highlander Hybrid remains a popular member of the Highlander family." -- Autotrader (2016)
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